Confidence, Networking, Personal Development

Don’t Be an Imposter: Take Responsibility for Your Successes

I was asked this week by a member of a content management team to provide a project management story, an example, for a project management module the group was working on. He reached out to me saying they were looking for “project management experts” to share career experiences.

My first thought was,

I’m not an expert at anything, let alone project management.

This is often my first thought when someone says I am an expert or experienced in a topic. The shock of someone considering me an expert and my own resounding echo of self-doubt were classic imposter syndrome. The imposter syndrome is that feeling that people will find out you can’t cut it, that you’re a fraud, or that you’re incompetent.

What if I submit one of my projects and it’s not any good? Or it shows that I really can’t manage anything?

These were just a few of the thoughts going through my head.

But anyone who feels the effects of the imposter syndrome, like I did this week, can’t let it put up roadblocks in your path. If it’s drained all your confidence, you can either “fake it ‘til you make it,” or pull out a stash of confidence boosters and run through those road blocks. Take responsibility for your successes, write them down, and pull them out in these moments of self-doubt.

That’s what I did. I have a great resource of projects I’ve worked on written down in a Dropbox folder, built from my professional engineering licensure application. I pulled that out and thought,

Yes, I can do this! I have made it from through several ranks of project engineer. I have managed projects from manufacturing to consulting services; I should be able to provide something.

Do you ever have moments of self-doubt or are overcome by the imposter syndrome? How do you deal with that? Do you fake it ‘til you make it,” or do you have a stash of confidence boosters? What are some of the ways you take responsibility or record your successes?

Networking, Personal Development

An Abundant Mindset

During the weekly Toastmasters’ meeting this week, we were challenged to develop an Abundant mindset or mentality. A mentality of abundance is that line of thinking that there is a slice of the pie for everyone, you just have to reach out and grab it. The opposite, a scarcity mindset which thinks competitively such that if you take that slice of the pie than I do not get one.
While I do consider myself more of an optimist and having a mindset of abundance seems to be an optimistic way to look at things I cannot say that I have or always have a mindset of abundance. I am more the person that would frown a little over you taking my slice of the pie but not be too heartbroken because it keeps me from eating too many sweets.
I would like to cultivate more of an abundant mentality after hearing the speech this week. I found several articles on the internet with the six, eight, ten ways to develop an abundant mindset in general, in leadership, in business. There is much information, but one of the items most consistent items across many of the resources is gratitude, finding gratitude each day or creating a gratitude journal. In a gratitude journal, you can reflect daily or weekly even on all of the good things in your life and make a note of just one of them, some of them, or all of them.
I found a 21 Day Gratitude Challenge app to help me keep up the positive reflection as I travel and better cultivate a mindset of abundance. I will check back in a few weeks on this project with the progress made. What will you do create a mindset of abundance, join me in journaling gratitude, get organized, great win-win situations, or something else? Let me know.

Networking, Personal Development

Make New Friends but Keep the Old: Connecting at Conferences

Professional society and industry conferences are a great time to connect with old friends or colleagues that you may have moved away from or just may not get to see that often. They are also an excellent time to meet new friends.

There are lots of different opportunities at conferences and workshops to meet up with people and make new friends.

1)     Sign up for a Social Event, or Tour-Many conferences have social events in the evening or event tours during the day depending on the type of event you are attending. Tours and social events are an excellent way to meet new people and strike up a conversation. You can usually find a mutual interest from the social event or tour.

“Did you like the performance?”

“Can you believe that is how that is made?”

2)     Volunteer!-Sometimes conferences need volunteers for various activities like checking in attendees or session monitors. Volunteering at the event you are attending is an excellent way to meet other conference attendees and to help out the event that you enjoy participating.

3)     Eat and Be Brave- Have a meal at a table with someone you do not know. There are some great lunches, dinners, networking events at conferences and workshops. We tend to gravitate towards those we know, but go ahead and sit at that table with those you do not and introduce yourself. You never know what interesting people you will meet.

4)     Go Bold and Get a Roommate (or 2)- Sometimes for a conference, you can find an email or message board of people looking for roommates to save on on the costs of attending the conference. If you are brave, go bold and ask online or through one of these emails to be paired with a roommate that you may not know. You will meet some interesting people and learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Now that you have some ideas on how to meet new people and make new friends at conferences do not forget about scheduling a time to connect with old friends or colleagues as well.

1)     Find out ahead of time whom you know that plans to attend the conference and how long they are staying

2)     Schedule time for lunch, dinner, coffee, or some other shenanigans

3)     Attend a friend’s presentation

4)     Rideshare to or from the airport (or make it a road trip to the conference location)

5)     After the conference, try an extended stay or a vacation for some extra quality time

Try out these tips next time you attend a conference or workshop and see how your circle of friends and colleagues shine. Don’t forget to follow up with new and old friends after conference letting them know it was pleased to meet them or see them again and that you would like to keep in touch and hopefully meet again at another event.


Working on a Superhero Introduction

One of the things I continue to work with on a weekly basis is giving and providing an introduction for myself. Now I know most of us have all heard about elevator pitches, there is a wealth of information about crafting them online like this article for example, and workshops you can attend even to practice crafting your pitch. These have always seemed like creating a sales pitch for new business to sell myself for a new position or promotion, what about just an introduction that says who I am, how I got here, and what I am doing. An introduction that I can use for example at my next Toastmaster’s meeting as an introduction before my next speech, which is not about trying to sell me or a product.

I have been inspired recently by the superhero dramas on TV that start with that opening monolog from the main protagonist. Like this one from Season 2 of The Flash,

“My name is Barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive. To the outside world, I am an ordinary forensic scientist, but secretly with the help of my friends in S.T.A.R. Labs, I fight crime and find other meta-humans like me. I hunted down the man who killed my mother, but in doing so, I opened up our world to new threats, and I am the only one fast enough to stop them. I am The Flash.”

These introductions on these superhero TV shows all have a similar formula. The hero tells who he or she is and about his or her powers or unique abilities. The protagonist also says how he or she got to the position of having to use these powers/abilities and what they are doing with them now. These elements are present in the opening monolog from Super Girl to the Green Arrow though they may mix up the formula to keep the introduction fresh from week to week. This superhero formula is what I am going to try use to create my next introduction. Maybe, I will try something more like the Super Girl introduction:

My name is Jennifer Cooper. When I was a child, I loved the stars. As much as I loved looking through a telescope, I loved telling stories about the stars- Andromeda, Perseus, and others. I loved to write my own stories, poetry, plays. But I followed the science stars to engineering school and forgot about my hidden writing powers until my first engineering job after graduation where I had to write assembly operating procedures. With my ever-strengthening writing powers, I work with energy operators to develop operating procedures and regulatory compliance programs. To most people, a project engineer at RCP, Inc., but in secret, I am also a poet who is particularly fond haiku.

It is a start; I am not looking to saving the city from a supervillain. Why don’t you try? What’s your superhero introduction? Let me know in the comments.