Face Your Fears
Early in my career in higher education, I accepted a position as an admissions advisor. I’m passionate about education and its ability to provide opportunity and change someone’s life dramatically.
When I was offered the position, I accepted enthusiastically. It seemed to blend my past work experience in teaching and in sales. Training was a blast. I soaked up everything about how to talk prospective students, academic program information, financial aid resources, etc. I was on fire. I knew the material, and I knew inside that I would be good at helping people take the next steps in their educational journeys.
As a matter of fact, the last couple days of training, I was so antsy and impatient in training class. All I was thinking was “just let me out of here and let me do the job!” I was ready.
Here’s the odd thing.
When I reported to my desk a few days later, my enthusiasm level was high, but my confidence plummeted. I had a note waiting for me on my desk with instructions to call my first prospective student, and…I froze. I didn’t want anyone around me to hear my phone conversation.
What if I didn’t know the answers? What if I said the wrong thing? What if I sounded ridiculous and unsure? I didn’t want anyone to hear me, so I sat at my desk frozen.
For nearly three hours, I faced my doubts, my insecurities, and my fear until I finally was able to make the call. I don’t remember the details about that call, except that I spoke much more quietly than normal. But, that humbling beginning led to many more conversations with students. I did well. I moved into enrollment management, then enrollment training which transitioned to campus leadership, then finally into executive leadership as an executive vice president.
I later learned that what I experienced that first day was a combination of imposter syndrome and analysis paralysis.
Imposter Syndrome is when someone has feelings of inadequacy even when faced that the opposite is true
Even though I knew that I would be good at the job, that I had experience in education and sales, and that I was excited about the job, there came a moment of severe doubt. What if I was bad at it? What if I wasn’t as good as the experienced people around me? What if I failed at something that I was excited about? This instance of the imposter syndrome led to analysis paralysis.
I spent hours trying to figure out the perfect solution to do the task at hand, rather than just diving in and making the call even if the result wasn’t perfect.
So, I’m writing about this incident from many years ago, because as a new entrepreneur with OvationSocial.com and the Standing O Show podcast, the imposter syndrome and analysis paralysis can sneak up and attack me. They can attack any of us.
Even though I have a history of successful experience teaching, coaching, and leading people to high achievement and performance, and although I have undergrad and grad degrees in communication and marketing, there are moments when I pause and ask myself, “Can I do this? Do I have a place in this field? Will I make a difference in the lives of others? Will I be as good or better than others doing similar work?”
Move Toward What You Want
The difference between now and my first day as an admissions advisor is that I’ve learned to recognize the fears, face your fears, then to immediately take an action step that changes my focus and moves me forward. It doesn’t matter if the action turns out great or not. I just move forward and adjust if needed.
I’m training my mind daily to always move toward what I want, and to not give valuable time to the things that I don’t want.
The key is to always face your fears and make decisions, even imperfect ones, which keep you moving in the direction of your goal. This builds up your efficacy and your confidence, and keeps you out of analysis paralysis.
As General Patton once said, “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied later.”