Recently during lunch with a friend of mine, we were talking about why the leadership world needs more women, and which barriers are holding women back from moving forward. Her answer was raw and honest and one I believe that many women face in their career: the feeling of “not being good enough.”  As she talked about her own self-doubts, it made me think about my own journey. My journey was full of bumps, distractions, self-awareness, and moments of being extremely vulnerable.  It was also full of moments where I stepped out of my comfort zone and did things that scared the heck out of me.

It wasn’t long ago (at least, it doesn’t feel like that long ago) when I had a complete breakdown outside of a classroom full of university graduates who happened to be the smartest humans in the world. I may be exaggerating a little, but at that moment, in my mind, they resembled Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

I had just finished a six-month online course in academic writing and critical thinking so I could prove that this little girl with only a college diploma could handle the Master’s level program that I was tentatively accepted into (did I mention that I was also mere months away from turning 40?). I passed, hopped onto an airplane, and flew to join my cohort in beautiful British Columbia.  There was a lot of self-talk happening on the long flight, and I had myself convinced that I was good enough, and I wasn’t going to be out of my depth, and that everyone would love me.

After twenty minutes of being in class, I found myself pacing the hallway outside of the classroom, talking (and maybe even crying a little) to my husband on my cell phone and feeling like I was about to faint (I’m very fortunate, he’s my biggest cheerleader ever).  I was out of my depth!  I did not belong here!  What the heck was I thinking?  I am not even close to being as smart as any of these people!  They’re going figure me out! I was ready to get on the next flight home to be with my people… and then the wisest words came out of the mouth of my head cheerleader:  “You are good enough.  Stop underestimating yourself.  You are the smartest person I have ever met.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be.”

It was a bumpy ride, but I made it.

Fast-forward four years. I have my dream job as the Executive Director of an amazing non-for-profit organization, and I have created a community of women leaders who learn from, support, and empower each other to be leaders in their lives… and I continue to face my fears every single day.

These are the four practices that I have incorporated into my life to help me keep that voice of self-doubt quiet:

1.    Step out of your comfort zone.  Purposefully attend an event that you feel is way out of your depth, or schedule lunch with someone that you feel would never want to have lunch with you.  You will be surprised at how you actually do fit into the event, and how that person winds up being so thrilled to have lunch with you.  Every new success, even small ones, will keep you feeling positive and in control of a little more of your life.

2.    Meditate: Meditation has been a huge buzzword for a while now, and it’s one that I reluctantly embraced just a few months ago.  But turns out it actually works!  In the wise words of Gabby Bernstein, “Meditation is for everyone, it doesn’t have to take much time, and anyone can sit still — even if it’s for just a moment.”  In my own personal experience, the more I mediate and visualize, the more confidence I have to be the most fearless and fabulous version of me.  

3.    Self Talk: Look yourself straight in the eye in every mirror you encounter and tell yourself: You are good enough. You are a powerful woman. You are on fire. Tell yourself whatever it is that energizes and empowers you. I have sticky notes all over my bathroom mirror that remind me of just how important I really am. If you can’t be your biggest fan, then how can you expect anyone else to cheer you on?

4.    Get some cheerleaders:  Guard very closely who you surround yourself with. You want your circle to be full of like-minded, motivated, positive, and forward-thinking people. Get rid of those who don’t share these traits. It’s not always easy to delete people from your life, but trust me, you won’t regret it.  Find people who celebrate your success and cheer you on.

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