It’s weird, synchronicity. Upon my return to work after maternity leave I have found an uncanny similarity between the challenges at home and those at work.
In both cases, I am in over my head taking on new challenges. At home, it’s a second child (an actual living breathing human being, another one!) and at work it’s demand generation and marketing strategy.
In both cases, I’ve had well-meaning people nod sympathetically at what I’m taking on and say, in a kind of parallel unison, “Well, it’s one of those fake-it-til-you-make-it situations, right?”
I don’t believe in “fake it ‘til you make it.” I believe in actually doing it, from day one, knowing I’m going to make some mistakes along the way.
There’s some science behind FITYMI: A 2010 study demonstrated higher confidence and cortisol levels from people using “power positioning” that physically positioned them as seeming more confident. (While this study wasn’t able to be replicated, the core idea, that people felt more confident, was.)
But this idea that we are supposed to “act the part” until we are the part doesn’t sit well with me. It’s like a self-imposed impostor syndrome – and who needs that?.
I’m not pretending to be miniDivo’s mom – I am actually his mom. And I’m not pretending to run demand generation – I am actually running demand generation. I’m learning what miniDivo’s disposition is like, what soothes him, what upsets him; I’m learning how to allocate budget across demand gen tactics and understand the reporting that comes back.
I’m not faking these things – I’m doing them. Just not at 100% because I don’t know how to…yet. If I’m faking it, I’m not asking enough questions, of myself or of others. I’m much better off feeling like “I’m doing this for real, I’m not faking it, but I’m also not bad at it, I’m still learning.” I think it’s better for others around me to think that about how I’m doing too.
Why would I hide from my family and friends that adjusting to a second baby is HARD? And why would I hide from my colleagues that I am doing things I’ve never done before and it’s going to be a little bumpy for everyone? Well, those are rhetorical questions, I’d hide those things if I was ashamed, or embarrassed. But I’m not, I just want to get better at them.
“I got a lot of offers to speak all over the country — everyone from schools and parent meetings to Fortune 500 companies. And so many of the calls went like this, “Dr. Brown, we loved your TED talk. We’d like you to come in and speak. We’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention vulnerability or shame.”
“What would you like for me to talk about?” There are three big answers. This is mostly, to be honest with you, from the business sector: innovation, creativity and change.
So let me go on the record and say, vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
And that’s where I am. I’m making it without faking it.