Enough, YES YOU ARE!!

I remember when I applied for my current position as the Assistant Director nearly four years ago like it was yesterday. With nearly fourteen years of experience working my way through the ranks, I knew I was ready for this position but self-doubt showed its ugly face. I recognize the majority of the women on my floor were administrative assistance essentially secretaries and the majority of executive directors were men. So of course, there was quite a bit of tension when I was chosen for the position. I can recall my supervisor telling me a secretary saw him in the hallway and commented I was not worthy of the pay or the position. And here’s why? In certain positions, once you given them your dreams come and go of becoming something better because often times you do not feel as if you are worthy of better. So, I listen to him and took what he said as a challenge instead of the end of the world. Following the comment, my immediate supervisor had the long discussion about dressing the part, acting the part, and re-developing myself for the position.

So of course, I embraced the constructive criticism and begin evolving into the Assistant Director.  I learned the job, in addition exactly what the position required. A new job required a new me. New level of commitment, sacrifices, and you know it long hours. My rest day was on Saturday, but Sundays I was in the office right after church and next stop the gym.  The most interesting part about my dedication to the job was I still didn’t believe I deserve the position because the seed of doubt was already planted. So, I started taking courses to perfect my craft starting with Executive Leadership and Marketing Strategies certification on-line through Cornell University.  Followed by Food System Leadership Network training and other course such as Tennessee Valley Leadership Colloquium for professional development purposes. In addition, I begin carving my niche in grant writing, one-on-one consultation with farmers, grants and grant writing for farmers, and government programs available for farmer. Finally, I became more comfortable being myself and becoming my own G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time.) I begin to work closely with people I admired and even to this day I continue to listen to their wisdom and words of encouragement. Over the years, I learned “leadership is taken not necessary given” and needless to say I earned every position by becoming a better leader.

Four years later as Assistant Director and (17) years on the job, there are days I still feel I am inadequate and just not enough.  I had to realize a bad day does not constitute a bad life or inadequate Lisa.  Listening to the webinar Organizational Wellness and Resiliency by Christina Garza reminds me of the power of daily positive affirmation and re-enforcing the power of self-care. Protecting my thoughts with  ‘”OH how fabulous I am” is just as important as eating healthy and working out. There are definitely days I know I’m ENOUGH, but on the other days positive affirmation always bring me back to my core replying YES YOU ARE.


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    ELICIA CHAVEREST on 4/4/2019 5:56:35 AM

    FRIENDLY REMINDER-Yes you are, Enough!!! Just in case you do not have enough energy to remind yourself....

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    Susan Lightfoot Schempf on 4/5/2019 10:03:08 PM

    Thank you for this, E'licia. I have struggled with issues of worthiness and imposter syndrome, especially when I first took on this job at the Wallace Center, and it has taken a lot of self work to finally accept that I am worthy, that I am enough!! And my job is so much more enjoyable now that I've decided to let go of my self-doubt and fear of failure. I so appreciate you sharing your story, which gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own journey.

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    ELICIA CHAVEREST on 4/6/2019 3:36:09 AM

    Thanks for reading my story and sharing Susan. Someone needs to know they are not alone. Each person is truly unique and amazing in their own way.

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    Taisy Conk on 4/8/2019 12:50:56 AM

    I also really appreciate you both sharing this!

    This was a significant theme at the FSLN retreat I attended in New Orleans. What surprised me was how people feel this imposter syndrome, as Susan called it, at every level! When you're early in your career you just assume that higher level people have it all figured out. Also there was a particular rock star (as we all are) at our retreat who clearly had so much going for her and was contributing so much relatively early in her career, yet shared her insecurities, which once I heard them were absolutely understandable.

    As we know, so much of this is compounded by gender and race etc etc.

    To bring it back to you, E'licia (is that right?): although I must commend your diligence and persistence, I have to acknowledge that it's a shame that others were denigrating you instead of recognizing your value and ability to grow in the role. That's a whole other societal question to delve into, but I'll just say I'm glad the hiring team saw past this.

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    ELICIA CHAVEREST on 4/8/2019 3:15:28 AM

    Hi Taisy, Thanks for reading my story and sharing your thoughts. I attended the FSLN retreat in Kansas City and we did not focus too much on the imposter syndrome. However, you're so right it at every level.
    And concerning the work force scenario, Forest Grump said it best "Life is like a box of chocolate you never know what you going to get- and that includes the your place of work and the people there. (Smile)