I enjoy watching television with my daughters. Correction: I enjoy spending time with my daughters and use the TV as a tool to talk about the world around them. They happen to like Hayden Panettiere – she was “the bomb” to them when she was on Heroes. So, when I heard she was going to be doing a new show on ABC, Nashville, I added it to my “preview’ list in the hopes that it could maybe replace “Pretty Little Liars” which I don’t so much like (2). Anyway, the music on the show for some reason got me thinking about the emotions we deal with and issues we face in various stages of our careers – or maybe it’s the fact that is what’s happening to several members of the cast on the show: they’re dealing with the various stages in their careers… from on-boarding into their industry, shifting as leaders, and learning to deal with the fall from the zenith of their careers as Country Music professionals.
While I doubt I’m anywhere near my zenith, it certainly has been awhile since I entered my profession, and that ‘first on-boarding’ has long since come and gone. The first time I gave into the siren song of ‘new & improved possibilities’ and was recruited away to another company was well over a decade ago, too. I’ve gained experience, learned to maneuver around office politics, gained stature to some extent, and most recently as it was pointed out? I’ve gained some level of mastery over reinvention: my career has evolved into something that, in a lot of ways, is very different from when I started on my professional journey.
In each step along the way, I had to deal with the temptation to stray from the course I originally wanted to take by shiny new roles, technologies, fast money, or the warm blanket of [perceived] “safety” that came with fading into certain roles within assorted companies… Roles that allowed for ‘comfortable’ instead of the greatness and adrenaline that we can feel with challenge and growth. I learned to temper my confidence to keep from overextending myself and subsequently the companies I represented, dealt with the doubt that came with stretch roles and the whispers of those trying to undermine my abilities in order to… what? Strengthen the light of their own stars by dulling the light of mine?
When my mentor congratulated me on successfully reinventing myself over the last few years not too long ago, it threw me. Had I reinvented myself? It wasn’t out of necessity I “reinvented” myself – more like I evolved since I’m doing what I had been working towards for years. In thinking on that, for a flicker of a moment, I was struck with this odd mix of confident pride in what I had achieved & doubt in the direction I was going all at once. Let me tell you, that’s an odd mix of feelings. Of course, confidence, doubt and temptation rarely come one at a time… rather they often come crashing in waves, one on the other, overlapping. Perhaps even at times they present because of each other… And it never goes away, really unless we stagnate in our careers. We’re not alone in our moments of doubt – nearly 1/3rd of male managers & 1/2 of women in management report feeling moments of self-doubt. (3) Harnessed and correctly handled, that doubt can give way to increased confidence and new opportunity that allows us to ‘know better’ ourselves and our capabilities… bolsters the confidence that others have bestowed in us and what we should have within ourselves.
As I watched this mini-marathon of bubble gum country music and big hair, I realized that lately I’d been feeling some of those same feelings.. waves upon waves of confidence in what I knew I could do, doubt about turns I’d taken – and others I hadn’t – in my professional road and the temptation to just do things that I could ‘control,’ that felt familiar in the face of fear in the others that it seemed I could barely even influence. Then I read my boss and friend, Jason Seiden’s, blog about fear and remembered that I wasn’t alone… and decided maybe I should talk about it.
So, I’m going to. We’ll look at having the confidence in ourselves and in our teams to tell our stories; the doubt that comes with rejection and leadership issues that can undermine both our individual and collective success… set to the music that inspired it. If I didn’t know better, I’d make excuses for the music – knowing some of my readers and friends don’t take to it quite as much as some of the others… but dammit, I do [so I won’t].
Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts through the series – the next installment is on Thursday – I’d like to hear from you.
(1) I happen to really love The Civil Wars version of this song but it feels less country, and that’s this series. 😉
(2) but they, much to my chagrin, do. It’s WHOLLY inappropriate for ABC Family.
(3) According to the European Institute for Leadership and Management, as reported in this 2012 Forbes article on Conquering Self-Doubt