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Don’t confuse skill and worth

Posted by Meg Bear on November 25, 2009


It’s a common problem, especially in women.  To not feel worthy or able to do a job, unless we have all the skills.  Lucky for us, the inability to believe our own worth becomes self fulfilling, in that people cannot imagine us successful in a role.

In reflecting on this challenge, I was remembering times in my life where I doubted my ability to be successful.

Two stories come to mind.

The first was in college.  I had been accepted to the Entrepreneurship program and was required to submit a business plan proposal at the beginning of the term.

I had worked on this proposal all summer, but I had never done something like this before,  and I had no idea what I was doing.  I found myself lying on the bathroom floor in a blubbering heap the night before I was to turn in my work.  I had convinced myself  I got it all wrong and was going to be laughed out of the program.  Of course, my proposal was actually chosen as one to pursue (essentially, the top 50% of those submitted).

My second story, was my first promotion to vice president.  I was not yet 30, and was being asked to manage a development group who were building a product with a  CORBA architecture and a MFC based presentation.  I had no idea what either of those things were, and I was completely convinced I was going to fail.

Lucky for me, I had a mentor who stopped me cold with his reply to my claim that I was not capable of doing the job.  He said:

I would rather have you managing this project not knowing the technology Meg, than having a technical expert who doesn’t know how to manage.

That belief  taught me something very powerful, knowing that I needed specific skills was helpful, but my doubting I could do the job, was not.

Armed with this belief, I set about to gain the skills I needed.  I can now  sound very smart (and out of date) talking about how CORBA helped  further the cause of Object Oriented Programming.

The lesson is, that if you need skills, quit stressing and get them.

If you need strengths, find someone who has them and befriend them.

If you are doubting your worth, stop, it’s not helping you!

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