This is part of a blog series about fighting insecurity at work and four phrases that have helped me keep myself in focus. To start from the beginning, click here.
Have you ever walked into a meeting and felt like you didn’t belong there? Like you had nothing to contribute? Nothing helpful to say? I think I felt that way for my first few years at Orange. I’ll never forget my first staff meeting. I thought…
1- They all have coffee. (I’m gonna like this place.)
2- They all have MacBooks. (I’m really gonna like this place.)
3- They’re all cooler than me.
4- And I’m pretty sure they’re all smarter than me.
It was an insecurity tornado. What’s worse? I was right. My coworkers were literally cooler AND smarter than me in almost every situation. But, over the next few months, I would discover something that has been a helpful truth to remember ever since. Even if everyone in the room is smarter than me, even if they know more, are more educated, have more experience, and say it better, I have something to contribute because….
No one in the room has my life experience but me.
Very often, I’d be in the room and realize I was the only person who had…
- Lived in a rural community OR
- Lived outside suburbia OR
- Taught in a poverty school OR
- Taught in a wealthy school (I did both) OR
- Live in an interracial marriage OR
- Taught language OR
- Lead a teenager through self-harm OR
- Lead a teenager through coming out OR
- Had done all those things.
Even if my experience wasn’t directly related, it had shaped me. It had given me perspective. And because I had a unique perspective, I always had something to bring to the table.
And so do you, because…
You are an expert in something.
Maybe it’s your own life story. Chances are you are an expert in a number of other things as well. But no matter what it is, you walk into a meeting with some level of expertise that no one else has, some perspective that no one else has, and you bring something that would be missing if YOU were missing.
You just have to figure out what that is.
And what's do you do as an expert? What is your primary job?
That's next week.