Just One Moment That Changed my Life

pocket watchesI remember this day like it was yesterday.

I’m sitting in a conference room with three MBA’s, an attorney and a Certified Financial Analyst. A very talented and professional group.

The meeting is the advisory board for a consulting client of mine who owns a large company out of state.  She’s very sophisticated — extremely bright, completely driven and a perfectionist in the best sense of the word.  She expects excellence in everything she does.  (And in everything everyone else does too!)

She’s reached that predictable growth stage – you know the one – rapid growth, few systems, even fewer policies and the company is completely dependent on her.

Now she’s having a hard time keeping things together.  The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and things are falling through the cracks.  There’s too much to do and everything is a 1-A priority.

That’s where I come in.  She hired me to lead the company through a process to get them through this growth stage.

On short notice, she asks me to attend her advisory board meeting.  I have no role other than to meet the members and hear their discussions about upcoming plans and decisions.

Ah, that’s what I thought!

Without warning, she asks me to come up to the white board and sketch out the model I would use for the changes that needed to take place in the next year.

I launch in and began to draw a diagram with captions.  As I write, I explain that the company needs structure – strategic planning, an organizational chart, job descriptions, and definitions of accountability.

Now, as a trainer and a speaker, I’m right at home with a marker in my hand and a white board.

But now there’s a moment, just one moment…

As I write, I turn to face the board members and notice something.

I’m speaking and they are listening.  No, not just listening.  They’re taking notes. 

For a fraction of a second, my knees go weak. 

Three MBA’s, an attorney and a Certified Financial Analyst are writing down what I say.

I push this awareness out of my mind and continue.

As soon as the meeting ends, I retreat to the ladies room and sit down on the floor, trembling with … what?  Fear?  Adrenaline?  (Classy, right?)

I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life because this is the exact moment I went from feeling like a fraud, an impostor, to knowing I was a capable, competent consultant. 

I bet you know the feeling I had in that moment.  That sick worry that you’ll be discovered, found out.

This feeling, commonly known as “the impostor syndrome” is one of the biggest factors holding women back.  We suffer from the dreaded disease of self-doubt.

We were raised to be nice girls and nice girls are humble.  We don’t brag and we don’t boast.

Some of us were also raised to defer to other voices.  Some of us were taught to be seen and not heard.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a Professor of Business Psychology, spoke to this gender difference in his article about why so many incompetent men become leaders.  “When it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women…is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.”

He explains that people in general confuse confidence with competence.  Men typically behave with more confidence than women.

Women see right through this mistaken belief.  And in a desire to NOT be like that, we go too far in the other direction.

Women confuse confidence with arrogance.  They are not the same thing.  Arrogance is overconfidence — definitely not a desirable leadership quality.

Women value humility, which is indeed an admirable quality.  But any strength overused becomes a weakness.  And false modesty is just as distasteful as arrogance.

Women commonly default to self-discounting behavior.  We discount our own competence and that’s self-defeating.

This self-doubt is what leads to feeling like a fraud – the impostor syndrome.

Women would be smart to adopt a healthy dose of confidence (stopping short of hubris of course!).

Our self-beliefs define our success. 

It’s time to stop feeling like a fraud.  Give yourself credit for what you do well.  

In that advisory board meeting, all that mattered is that I knew what I was talking about — that I was the only one in the room with the particular expertise that the company needed at that point in time.

In that moment (more accurately, sitting on the floor of the ladies room!), I stopped feeling like a fraud.  I never want to over-promise and under-deliver.  But I won’t sell myself short either.

And neither should you.  Believe in yourself!  Find your moment.  (And tell me about it in the comments!) Take care,




P.S.  Would a little knowledge help you develop your competence and find your moment?  Check out my webinar:  9 Specific Steps on How to HIre Great Employees for YOU

8 thoughts on “Just One Moment That Changed my Life

  1. Jena

    This SCREAMED at me when I read it. YES! I have been in that same conference room, at that same white board with marker in hand….and that same aha! But my ladies room moment came later in the car… with a huge smile…. As women, when something comes natural to us… when something isn’t a struggle… we think it is not valued. From the office to the kitchen. Just because “seeing” the answers so clearly to problems and issues in a company is like riding a bike to us we think we are being frauds. I love that you called it that because I have often said those exact words to my close friends or spouse. I often ask…. what makes that man worth more money than me? What does he know or do that is worth so much more? This was an excellent reminder to all of us who hold a talent that we keep hiding or thinking is fake somehow. Thank you!

    1. Darcie Harris Post author

      Hi Jena, I’m so glad you spoke about your experience. I agree, when we deeply grasp or understand something, we assume anyone could, instead of giving ourselves credit for our own learning. Just another small, subtle way of self-discounting. Keep sharing your skills and your talent!

  2. A. Gray

    Wow. This message was just in time for me. This morning I left my safety net (a good salary) to find #my moment. I have finally grown tired of selling myself short. I’m stepping out on faith in God and belief in myself to fulfill my destiny. 🙂 Thank you for this message. I’m sure this speaks to so many women.

  3. Mulinda Mbabazi Grace

    Dear Darcie,

    Thank you so much, I love your trainings and reading from you. I learn a lot from each message your send out. In my country way back women never used to speak in a loud tone or speak in public. thx to women like you who motivate us to stand out.


  4. Darcie Harris Post author

    Hello Grace, I’m so happy to near from you. It pleases me deeply that my words and training reach women as far away as Rwanda. You — the women of Rwanda — have rebuilt your country by standing in your strength. My thanks to you for touching my life deeply. Take care.


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