Do I really belong here? Will I be found out as a fraud?
Will my gifts be recognized and welcomed?
In the middle of this networking event, I was feeling drained and discouraged. At that moment, a community artist who inspires me happened to walk up to me to ask about the network mapping activity I was working on. In our conversation, this artist surprised me by telling me about the self-doubts he had about how he fit in this large group of leaders. As he vulnerably and openly told me about this, I felt a wave of grace wash through us.
I've spent much of my life asking myself why I was so shy, and why I had such trouble connecting naturally with people around me. The morning after the event, I woke up early with a desire to reframe this history of self-doubt and insecurity. I saw in a new way the value of the path I've been on from intense shyness to choosing a career as a group facilitator that stretched my natural tendencies. My own experiences have increased my attention to and compassion for these insecurities. That morning, I felt called to a new way of facilitating connections and collaboration--a way that acknowledges and integrates our insecurities about belonging. I felt the opportunity for healing of my habit of believing that I can't deeply and naturally connect with others. I felt a desire to continue my facilitation work, but from a place of compassion for those hidden insecurities about belonging that are in me and many others I work with.
If we see leadership as something that a small number of powerful individuals do, the hidden doubts we have as leaders will probably always feel lonely and alienating. If we see leadership as an activity that anyone can do, as a way of taking responsibility and initiative for what we care about--then our weaknesses and doubts can point us to the ways we need each other. If leadership is something we do together, my limitations can open up space for connection and opportunity for others.