Imposter Syndrome Knows When to Take a Backseat to Winning Mind
Updated: Jul 2
Cleaning up the Past
Last week, I travelled to Los Angeles to take care of a court matter. A situation that had been hanging over me for about a year and the resolution of which I knew would be important to moving forward.
Leading up to the trip, I had to deal with looking over old materials and conversations. It brought me back to a particular place in time in which I was finishing up my 2nd to last class in my MBA and starting the preparation for my journey to Japan.
There was essentially no break between a really challenging and fast-paced management strategy course and a pile of reading on Japanese business and culture, as well as fears and stress about the trip itself. Two years into a rigorous and demanding MBA program, along with working full-time at a fast-paced job had taken its toll.
I suffered from a type of PTSD by this point, undiagnosed and palpable. Stress on top of stress with no room for processing. I didn’t sleep well, drank too much and ate in an unhealthy manner. My health deteriorated to the point that I was rarely well physically, that second year. I caught flus and then got well, then caught a sinus infection, then got well, then caught a cold…
I attended an acupuncturist and did BodyTalk sessions almost weekly just to keep the symptoms from dragging me into an early death, or so it felt. Beyond that, I knew I needed to strengthen my immune system which didn’t seem to be working. In November, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids and in western medicine the treatments are not that great.
I knew from my previous experience in spiritual and healing circles that the stagnant chi of a “fibroid” related to an imbalance in my systems and ancestral templating – emotions stuck that went back through many generations of women in our family. Neither side of my ancestors were free of female issues, my paternal grandmother had many miscarriages.
I chose to pursue alternative healing for my condition and changed acupuncturists to someone who specialized in female reproductive issues as well as saw the care of someone who specialized in Maya Abdominal Massage. I knew it somehow effected my financial flow.
Back to my case. I knew there would be polarized positions presented, but one interesting thing that struck me was that my mental capacity at the time of my decision to enter into a contract was dismissed handily as “not a gun to my head.”
Sure felt like it. Every deadline. Every financial up and down. Every request. Even getting out of bed in the morning.
My Dad still describes our exploration into the cultural context of leadership as a “feel-good trip to Japan.” Maybe he should have been there when I flew to Japan with $100 in my checking account hoping that would be enough to eat for one or two weeks, and hoping that my money would last and hoping that I didn’t get into any crises – my credit cards were maxed out.
Knowing that since none of my classmates had asked me to be in their groups stateside, the study abroad option was likely my best bet for finishing school and would provide a type of experience that you couldn’t really put into words. In fact, spirit wanted me to go to Japan – I wasn’t really given another option as the deadline approached.
However, my capacity to get the implications of complex contractual structures was most definitely impaired. I may have written A papers on business strategy but my emotional intelligence had diminished on the impact of stress alone.
I didn’t feel good. The trip to Japan though broadened my leadership capacity and opened my heart to other worlds I would not otherwise experience. That was priceless.
The evening after my case was closed, I went to the hotel bar for happy hour. I planned to turn in early. I’d already been up to Universal Studios. located in close proximity to the hotel, and gone on almost every bone-jarring ride experience I could get to in the two hours I had between the time I got back from court and closing time.
It happened to be the night the SF Giants won the closely contested Wild Card game with the Mets. I ended up staying later at the bar just to watch the game at which point I had made friends with the bartender Jeff and a Hitachi sales manager called Pete. Before long, Pete and I were discussing my MBA, my future in marketing and my confidence.
He hit the nail on the head when he said “you need more confidence.” He didn't have any quams about my capability to manage or my capacity to obtain a much more lucrative career position. He just knew I didn't always believe it myself.
I sometimes feel that thing Sheryl Sandberg wrote about in her book Lean In – Imposter Syndrome. I had a hard time believing I brought much to the table for a very long time. Even in my MBA, I was the Executive Assistant trying to change careers with the people who already had marketing titles, some of whom were VPs in their organizations and managing teams.
Nevermind I had already made a 16mm film for my previous Masters in Fine Arts, had built the organizational processes for my current company from scratch with little to no input or direction and onboarded almost 150 staff members while running complex office structures. I’d completed a book of short stories and poetry and published it with my own publishing company in 2010. I had multiple MLM type businesses under my belt and marketed my massage practice for years in California. As an EA, I had regular exposure to executive teams including CEOs and had experience as a contractor in almost every industry including start-ups in Silicon Valley.
But my mind concentrated on all the things I HADN’T DONE RIGHT. All the time. At least until I started using EFT regularly to reprogram my brain and release some of these old beliefs that still lingered, and influenced my existence.
Back to Pete. Pete made a compelling case for my wins – the court case, the Giant’s game, the trip to LA (paid for by someone else), the fact he was going to pay for my drinks/dinner. Pete said “you need to believe that you will keep winning.”
This week, I will attend my first MIMA marketing committee meeting as a volunteer. I already wrote about my resistance to this process. But whose resistance was it really – that part of me that felt I’d never succeed? My parents who thought that organizations could “take advantage of me?”
I came back from LA with Pete’s words echoing and a massive headache from the sushi and sake we ate and drank later with his co-worker, and another woman in town up for the adventure, Maria. But the words rang true. I would keep winning. I’d show up at that board table and at my networking events knowing my future was in front not behind me. I knew I may not please everyone and some people I’d make downright uncomfortable. I’d be doing it anyway.
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