If you're feeling inadequate today, read this.
CONFESSION: I follow a lot of people on LinkedIn in the L&D/ ID / LXD space, and some days, I'm overwhelmed by the accomplishments of my peers. I start thinking I'm not doing enough. I start to go down the rabbit hole of skills I need to learn, of books I need to read, of ways I need to redefine myself. This post is for anyone who has felt like me.
We've all heard the saying "comparison is the thief of joy," but as a highly-motivated person who enjoys learning, I find myself constantly comparing myself. I want to figure out the rubric for success in my industry. It's a struggle to not let that search become a process of noting lack rather than strenghth, and I have to remind myself of these truths.
Truth # 1: I follow people who are leaders in the field. I want to learn from people who are doing interesting things and possibly things beyond my scope of expertise/experience. I purposefully sought out those people for those reasons, and so it's ridiculous to think I need to be where they are right now. There are people out there who would also be awed by the work I'm doing. I know this because, every once in a while, one of them are nice enough to send me a message or ask me for help (thank you).
I want to learn from people who are doing interesting things and possibly things beyond my scope of expertise/experience. I purposefully sought out those people for those reasons, and so it's ridiculous to think I need to be where they are right now.
Truth # 2: The internet is a place to show your best. I don't often see the struggles my peers are experiencing. I don't see when they're in the middle of a job and come across a new situation, worry about their ability to complete the task, and then experiment until they're able to problem-solve; I only see the solution. But if you're learning new things, you're probably struggling, at least a little bit; growth happens when you step beyond your comfort zone. Most people don't want to show their mistakes to potential employers and clients, though, so, you're bombarded with messages about success, but struggles and mistakes are occuring.
Truth # 3: I don't always see the half-truths that are being presented-- sometimes intentionally and sometimes because I make assumptions that people are more successful than they are. I don't see when they leave out an entire team's worth of work and make it their own. I don't see when they borrow from a scholar they read without citing it. I don't see when they paid to be on a list. Though most of my peers are ethical, these things happen.
Truth # 4: You are reading this. You're aready ahead of the many people who don't understand the value of connecting with colleagues online, of showcasing your talents through social media, of learning from online content.
Truth # 5: You can do anything, but you can't do everything. Figure out what's a priority. Make a list. Then, make a plan and schedule your time. What do you really want to learn? What's necessary? How can you do it? How much time with it take? You won't learn it all by tomorrow, even if you really want to. You wouldn't expect this of your peers, your clients, or (if you have them) your learners. Don't expect it of yourself.
Truth # 6 -- the most important one: You are great, and your talents are needed. That's not being conceited. It's true. I have a specific skill set. I work to improve myself, but the clients with whom I work are the people who need those skills. The same can be said for you. You have a skill that most people don't have. You're not looking to please everyone. You're looking to connect and add value for those who need your skills.
**crossed posted to LinkedIn