Yesterday I had a networking coffee with an acquaintance who was recently restructured out of her organization. She didn’t see it coming, and is feeling a bit lost and uncertain.
I asked her what she wanted next for her career and what her ideal role would look like. She is a graphic designer and has significant experience in Marketing project management. She started talking about how she’d love a role in Marketing strategy and client relationship management. Almost as soon as she put this out there, she quickly dismissed her own idea! She said it wasn’t realistic because she didn’t have the actual experience and job title history to successfully target roles in this area.
As she started to describe advertised roles similar to the ones she’d held before and was thinking of applying to, her energy clearly dropped. She was talking like someone on death row. Zero enthusiasm. An air of resignation and hopelessness.
I asked her if I could interrupt and go back to something she’d said earlier. I inquired if she had actually DONE any marketing strategy and/or client relationship work. “Oh yes!” she said. “I was always at the table at the top of a project, right from the discovery session with a client. I was also the main point of contact for customers during a project, once the engagement was signed off with the account executive.”
So, while it’s true that this area had never been part of her actual job titles over the years, it was a significant part of the work she did for years!
It’s so interesting that when we have taken a hit to our confidence, or we change contexts, we often overlook what we bring to the table.
I observe this with my clients all the time. And with myself! Here’s an example. When I left my corporate career, I immediately enrolled in a coaching certification program. Near the end of my training, before I was even certified, my own coach and mentor approached me about coaching some leaders within one of his corporate clients. Hire me?! I was supremely flattered. And gobsmacked!
In our first meeting to discuss the opportunity, we chatted and he told me some context about the opportunity. Near the end, he asked if I had any other questions. And it just came spilling out: “I’m so flattered that you’ve approached me….and I’m really confused! Why me?”
He answered my question with a question: “If you were in my shoes, looking at your background and experience, what would you see?”
And that was it. Oh my god! I had such a strong image of myself as a beginner, a student, a baby entrepreneur, that my confidence was low. And I had completely dismissed the value of my 25-year career as a corporate leader and leadership development expert! My background, combined with my coaching skills, delivered credibility and proven experience, both key when pitching new team members to a client!
A wry smile started to show up on my acquaintance’s face yesterday as she described her experience with marketing strategy. She suddenly got it. Her inner critic had been telling her a story - that she couldn’t have what she really wanted and was actually well-equipped to do! It was time to dump her assumptions and reframe her view of what was possible. We ended up talking about how she could tailor her search to target what she really wants, and ways to help employers see the obvious match with her experience.
What about you?
Think about a time when YOU overlooked your own strengths or experience due to a kick in the confidence gut.