Posts tagged: tough stuff

How to defeat impostor syndrome with your own two feet


We recently talked about the phenomenon of impostor syndrome — what it actually means, how it manifests itself, and how to talk yourself out of it.

And though it’s difficult to describe a feeling of perceived inadequacy, especially one that often comes from an irrational place, sometimes a shift in perspective helps make everything a little clearer.

We recently stumbled across a story by Mike Kail who, despite being a high-powered tech executive, also battles impostor syndrome. He recently wrote about his struggle through the lens of running, a habit he picked up in college. What we like about his story is that it offers a very tangible metaphor for how impostor syndrome works and, more importantly, shows how it can be defeated (or, maybe in this case, defeeted):

My first race was the St. Patrick’s Day 8k in Saint Paul, and despite running approximately a 6:30 mile, I wasn’t even
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How to negotiate a power struggle at work


Power struggles personify the worst kind of office politics. They sap energy. Distract from purpose. And hold the potential to derail success and happiness.

It’s the rare individual who actually enjoys a power struggle. Most of us want to do what we’re paid for, joke around with our colleagues, and feel like we’ve contributed.

That’s not so easy when emotions are running high. Empathy is replaced with an “us or them” mentality that can quickly escalate. Then we’re stuck either dodging bullets or picking sides. What other choice do we have?

The heart of the struggle

Power often evokes the image of a corner office where people in expensive suits lay down the law for the rest of us. But the reality is, power — and the fight for it — can come from anywhere.

To help us understand workplace struggles, and how to respond to them, we asked our colleague Sara Kalick
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Coworkers won’t communicate? Break out the Tip Cards


Evie Racette is a straight shooter.

Bred in the Midwest, she was raised to speak her mind. But these days, as the new town manager of Pinetop Lakeside, a resort town in Arizona’s White Mountains, she finds herself in a communication conundrum. How can she introduce necessary change if she can’t talk freely with her coworkers?

“I just took the position in October, and I’ve felt resistance,” she explains. “In the southwest you couch everything you say, and that’s been hard for me.”

Then she came across Unstuck’s new Tip Cards, and it dawned on her that the cards might tackle the elephants in the office using a process that suited the culture.

“I thought it would be a great resource for the staff. I saw it as problem solving in a removed way.” Evie says. “We all have interpersonal issues, and sometimes that’s not easy to share with your manager. The
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You’re doing everything right — but you still feel stuck


How accountable are you?

Stuck moment: I can’t believe she thinks I’m not pulling my weight. I’ve done everything that’s required — what more does she want?

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Think of it as the silent stuck moment. There’s nothing wrong, really. What needs to happen happens. Deep down, though, you know something is off. And on the surface, it feels like treading water — tiring and not all that inspiring.

Take it as a sign that it’s time to reflect on your level of accountability in the situation.

There is responsibility — I do what I’m supposed to do — and then there is accountability — I do what it takes. It may seem subtle when put into words, but the difference is palpable when it comes to achieving our goals.

When we’re truly accountable, we’re all in. We’re motivated. We pay attention. We communicate. We battle obstacles and seek solutions. People see it in our facial expressions
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25 ways to make networking less dreadful


Stuck moment: I know this so-called networking event tonight is important for my career, but I’m not going to get anything out of it. I never meet the right people. And it always seems like everyone knows people there already — what am I suppose to do, just barge into a conversation with strangers? I hate this.

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There’s no shortage of people who detest networking, and no shortage of reasons why: It feels artificial. I have better things to do with my time. I never know what to say. It’s boring. It’s exhausting. There’s nothing in it for me.

All of these reasons are valid — and if we peek under the covers we’ll find the singular core: We’re afraid. Of being rejected, of failing, of not being up to snuff. Everyone feels it, even those super-smiley glad-handers we know we’ll never be. On top of that, research shows
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How to make the most of a big mistake


Mistakes are really stuck moments waiting to get unstuck. We fail, we learn, we do better. Sometimes, a lot better. Such is the case with the 25 successful women profiled in Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, edited by Jessica Bacal, Penguin, 2014.

We’ve culled five of the stories that offer some of the best advice for all of us, and categorized them by type of stuck moment for extra clarity. Experience is the best teacher — even if it isn’t yours.

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RACHEL SIMMONS GETS STUCK AS A TUNNEL VISIONARY BY CONSIDERING ONLY A SINGLE SOLUTION.

Rachel’s mistake: Rachel is used to being the best, and has a shelf of trophies and awards  — plus an acceptance letter to Yale Law — to prove it. When she wins a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to study political theory
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The secret to work-life balance


My husband, Jesse, has been 263 miles away since Monday. (Again.) I threw together an improvised childcare plan — involving two paid babysitters, some kind-hearted neighbors, and an indispensible Granny — so I could pull extra hours at the office while my boss was out of town. When I got home, I put the kids to bed with a stern message to win the going-to-bed-game so I could teach a few online writing courses. Later, I packed (okay, made a packing list) for vacation — which officially begins as soon as I finish writing this.

Did I mention that I may have called my husband in tears on my way to work because a political situation in the office was spinning out of control?

Balance? Not exactly. More like falling. And that’s the good news.

The fine art of falling down a hill
I learned how to ski last winter. My husband is a passionately committed
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How a bad boss made me a better person


I had little money and a lot of determination when I moved from Tampa to New York City three years ago. I was 27 and on the fence about pursuing a master’s degree, but I knew I needed to be in New York. While Florida was where all my amazing family and friends were, it was no longer enough for me to feel culturally fulfilled.

My opportunity came when a friend got into New York University and asked me to move with her. It was a golden moment, and I was ready to do whatever it took to make it work. At first, I had weeks when I had only $20 to my name, so I became very familiar with the selection of flavor packets offered by the Maruchan Ramen Noodle Co. Just when it seemed like I may have to return home, I landed a hosting position at a restaurant
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