At the office, the morning after a work social thing with free pizza and severely moderated drinking, my boss (who was also my good friend) looked at me and said matter of factly,
“You’re not yourself with him.”
I was in my 20’s. I'd brought my then significant other as my +1 to a work social event.
As soon as she said it, I knew she was right.
I wasn't doing it on purpose or even consciously, as her comment made me realize. Even if you don't know someone well, you instinctively sense you're not getting the real person.
These last few weeks, I've spent some time working in an office (for the first time in a long time.)
The result? Flashbacks...to the early years of my in-an-office career.
By "early years," I mean when the Nokia "brick" was the cool cell phone to have and 1 in 1000 people used the texting feature.
Back in my "Nokia Brick" days, I spent waaaaaaay to much time second-guessing myself at work.
When I stopped, my career's speed went from slow roll to high-speed train.
Self-doubt is a drag. If your fingers have hovered over the keyboard while you worry about using right words to your boss, a recruiter, a hiring manager... that's the self-doubt I'm talking about.
Or maybe you decide not to send the follow-up to the recruiter (..."don't want them to think I'm a b#tch or a nag!")
You bail out rather than "bother" that friend-of-a-friend at your favorite company. Imagining it won't work out. Or that you'll use the wrong words and blow your chance.
Whatever gives you pause is giving your career a bigger pause.
Here's the crazy part.
A weird, yet universal way people tend to deal with self-doubt is to compromise and send your “representative” to do it for you. The real you goes on a coffee break and your “representative” steps in to handle your messaging - the email to the boss, recruiter, hiring manger that you think "real you" messaging is not "good enough" for.
Here's why you might want to send your "representative" on vacation or at least out to get cupcakes. (Salted caramel for me, please.)
It's from Dr. Seuss.
"Do what you want to do, say what you want to say, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter."
If you find yourself shrinking from taking action, hitting "Send" or venturing over the boundary into new territory, say a prayer to Dr. Seuss and go for it.
Here's why. That little gremlin of self-doubt doesn't survive on cupcakes and coffee (like me) it eats your opportunity for breakfast and your peace of mind for lunch.
If there's a devil on your shoulder saying "Don't do that. You'll just screw it up," try this:
Open your desk drawer. You know, the big one at the bottom where you put your lunch, handbag or shoes (or all three!)
Knock that little green gremlin off your shoulder into that drawer and lock it. (Take your stuff out first!)
Throw a 🧁 in there if you want to be nice. (I wouldn't, but you do you.)
Your representative is the voice of that little green gremlin of self-doubt and they will never be as good as you. (Neh-VER!) because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. Here’s the thing: you're going to make mistakes.
As long as you're not an astronaut or a heart surgeon, no one's going to be buried if you make a mistake. So get it over with already!
You and your career will move ahead with every one and there will be fewer over time and they will bother you less and less.
The cup-cakey good stuff - respect, raises, happiness, career freedom, fearlessness - comes faster when you push through self doubt. Give your representative the day off and cage that green gremlin in the desk and the next time you're thinking of holding back, push forward.
Believe me, your flashbacks will be way better if you do.
You matter like crazy and I don't mind at all. P.S. Know someone who might like these emails? Forward this to them and tell them to click...
P.S.S. Has self-doubt held you back? What's the story? Share it in the comments.