If this last 18+ months has shaken your confidence as a leader – whether you lead a healthcare team, an essential services organization, remote team or any number of other novel circumstances – the demands, drain and deviations no doubt have taken their toll on your confidence. Those of you providing mentorship, peer leadership, and are informal leaders, same thing. I bet there have been times, perhaps you still question your competence to handle the litany of challenges, constant change, and new crises that emerge.
This “crisis of confidence” is expected.
Not because you’re not exceptional. Quite the contrary. It’s because it’s right on schedule.
Plus, if you care enough to notice, reflect and try to navigate your way through it, this alone is a testament to your resilience, resourcefulness and resolve to come out more proficient.
The latest worry I have is that many of you feel guilt. For example, I have heard at least a dozen times lately that you don’t have the time, energy or desire to mentor, precept, and guide the next generation of students, interns or emerging professionals as you once did. As Brene Brown says, guilt is “I’ve done something bad.” My friends, you’re doing the best you can. You haven’t done (or not done) anything bad.
Pause. Deep breath in of self-compassion. Deep breath out of guilt.
If you are really struggling with feeling torn because of what you “should” do and what you “can” do, here’s a self-compassion strategy: acknowledge what you want to do (e.g. accept a student into a placement/internship) and give yourself a timeline of when you believe you’ll be ready to revisit this (e.g., winter semester). Just because you can’t right now doesn’t mean you won’t again.
Holding onto the guilt about being tapped out doesn’t serve you or anyone else. Having all you can manage on your shoulders is burden enough; ruminating in guilt only deepens the struggle. In fact, it might also make it last longer, pushing your timeline out further of when you get back to it.
I’m re-sharing a video I filmed back in early 2021 (when we thought COVID would be behind us by now…sigh). Given how many of you have shared with me that it was both valuable for you and that you forwarded it to colleagues inside and outside of your organization because they needed this message, too, I thought I’d share it again as a reminder or in case you missed it.
Even if you have already watched it, there might be a nugget or two worth revisiting, and there might be something else you take from it based on where you are at right now.
Feel free to share this article and even the video with anyone you think will benefit from a message that normalized leadership challenges. We are in this together. And remember, even in moments of doubt, you are already greatness. It’s there whether it feels like it or not.
If you’re experiencing your own crisis of confidence and could use strategies to rebuild it, check out these resources:
- Recognizing Your Own Greatness First
- Self Compassion and Recognition in Our Stressful Times
- Self Love: How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
PS. I recently did a podcast with my friend and colleague Roxanne Derhodge on Authentic Leadership Through Recognition Practices that I am sure you will find inspiring and helpful! It’s a 2 part series, so make sure to check back again next week for Part II.