If in doubt, pretend

If in doubt, pretend

Stefanie Daniels explains how she bridged the gap from selling media, to elevating women in the industry, and three ways she overcame self-doubt throughout her career.

This month, a really funny thing happened. I graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine and gained a Diploma in nutrition.

That’s not the funny thing.

When I received my email confirming I was officially certified, I looked around the room expecting to see a crowd of faces cheering and celebrating, screaming “YOU DID IT STEFANIE, YOU DID IT!”

There were no faces — unless you count my dog Darcy who reluctantly raised her head hoping for a treat.

There was no fanfare and no difference in how I felt two minutes earlier — apart from, I was now qualified to do what I’d told myself I was capable of doing for the previous three years.

The reality of self-doubt

In 2020 I took a massive risk pivoting from media to midlife support (read the full story in my previous article) and although I had the usual, circulating narrative along the lines of “What on EARTH are you doing?”, “You’re going to be found out” etc. etc. I dutifully thanked the voices for being protective and replaced them with a more nurturing approach I usually save for the kids.

After a while, something wonderful happened.

No one turned up to knock at my door, and no one questioned my choices. The years passed, and eventually so did I, and while I’ve accepted doubt as a part of my make-up, I consistently work with it in the hope that one day it will get bored and melt away.

What follows are my favourite three lessons and actionable steps that help me on my journey and that you can start implementing straight away.

Three (Surprisingly Effective) Lessons on Self-Doubt

1. Practice

Throughout the chaos of my life, a few things remain steady — putting on my mascara each and every day, always trying my best (which varies depending on the day) and the power of practise!

I have a picture in my office that says: “It’s better to arrive late than to arrive ugly”, but sometimes, just arriving in the first place is an achievement!

Continued practice of <<insert personal goal here>> is boring, but it’s also extremely self-empowering and has the ability to elevate your career…. And self-worth!

For the week ahead, I invite you to laser focus on one skill you’re working on improving right now and simply keep showing up.

Eventually, practise becomes progress.

2. (Don’t) Fake it ‘til you make it

I used to get on stage and physically shake at the sea of eyes staring back at me. I would get palpitations at the thought of presenting to colleagues and if I was ever in the spotlight, my mouth would do this Elvis-type move as it attempted to smile.

I internalised that if I just hid and stayed small, I would be okay! I tried the whole “fake-it-till-you-make-it” approach but even sucked at that.

Then I had a humbling realisation.

I could continue to shout affirmations at myself in the mirror and pretend to be the biggest, bestest or whateverest, or, I could work from the inside out whilst gently acknowledging I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be.

It removed the pressure and gave me permission to not always get it right… but to continue to try.

In the case of public speaking, I found Toastmasters (look it up, you won’t regret it) which enabled me to craft my talent but there is support for most things if you look hard enough.

3. Community Spirit

This may well be my favourite one.

In my experience of media sales teams, the BEST and most effective were those that had a shared bonus.

Where we would pull together to cheer each other on and lift each other’s spirits…

I have kept that energy with me to this very day and never underestimate the power of community and mentorship, providing a supportive network where ideas are exchanged, experience is shared and emotions (yes, emotions) are validated.

I am writing this article in the hope that my shared experience will somehow inspire you to pay it forward.

Sending that one email congratulating someone will lift their spirits and lower their stress levels. Calling that person to let them know I’m thinking of them allows them to step out of their comfort zone and into a community spirit that is that catalyst for personal growth, creating a ripple effect of empowerment and inspiration.

My invitation to you is to commit to one small thing this week that amplifies community spirit. With no hidden agenda or preconceived notions, send a message lifting someone’s spirits and watch your own spirits soar too!

Show up for yourself consistently

These are not just strategies, these are commitments to show up for yourself day after day, month after month and year after year…

Whether you’re flipping the script on your career or simply seeking to elevate yourself and others, the strongest ingredient is taking the first step.

In each step, there’s a story and a lesson to be learnt — a piece of you that becomes a part of your grander narrative, and while life rarely hands out standing ovations, that doesn’t mean you’re not deserving of one. So says my dog Darcy, anyway!

I can’t wait to hear what YOUR next step is, so take a step out of your comfort zone and comment below with your commitment so we can start celebrating each other.

Stefanie Daniels is the founder of Life Begins at Menopause and and worked in media sales for two decades, including for Wireless Group (News UK), Bauer Media Group, and GCap Media (now Global). 

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