Finding Your Windows Of Opportunity

 

Last Saturday I spoke at NEPABlogCon 2015, a gathering of bloggers and web professionals from Northeast Pennsylvania and the surrounding area held at East Stroudsburg University.

It was just one of those things. I saw the call for speakers, came up with a topic, and submitted a proposal all on the very same night night. It was a window of opportunity – a chance to meet fellow bloggers, hear a great line up of speakers, and pull together my ideas into a concise Powerpoint, which, as we know, is an excellent way to make sure you know what the heck you’re talking about.

A special added bonus to the day was finally meeting the keynote speaker, Ash Ambridge, the marketing maven behind The Middle Finger Project, who I’ve been following online for at least six years. If you don’t know her, you need to follow her for the kick in the pants to get you moving to make your business dreams a reality.


Yes or No?

I’m someone who says “yes” and immediately regrets it. One reason I say yes is because I think whatever it is would be “good for me” like the time I volunteered to be Treasurer for the local Library Board of Directors thinking it would be a wonderful opportunity to learn Excel. Anther reason I say yes, is because I’m a pushover, especially at meetings when someone looks around the room and says “Do I have any volunteers?”

Learning how to start saying “no” has been a challenge. At best, I’m able to say “let me think about it” and avoid the regret of adding one more commitment to a schedule that is already crazy full of obligations. However, it’s easier to say no when you realize it’s more difficult to change a “yes” to a “no” than it is to change a “no” to a “yes.”

But sometimes an opportunity comes along and you know you have to say “yes”, no matter how time-crunched you are. NEPABlogCon was one of those — for reasons that any of you starting down the encore career path would definitely understand.

Impostor Syndrome

For years (30+) I taught piano lessons. Yes, I’ve always done blogging and built websites “on the side” but underneath it all I was really a “pianist”, a pianist who dabbled in web design.

Recently I’ve been learning HTML, CSS, Javascript, spending hours every day with CoffeeCop Editor, CodePen, Codecademy, and my Blueprint class on SkillCrush.  I took on the challenge of building my own portfolio site from scratch and hanging out my shingle as a web designer and infopreneur. But still had this lingering feeling that I was a fraud — that there was so much to learn before I can really claim to be any sort of expert.

I found out that there’s a name for this. It’s called “impostor syndrome.” Margie Warrell writes about this “fear of being found out.”

She writes that Maya Angelou once said:

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ ”

Yes, Maya Angelou!

Don’t let doubts dictate choices

Warrell continues:

“It takes courage to take on challenges and pursue aspirations that leave you wide open to falling short,  losing face and being ‘found out.’ But when you refuse to let your doubts dictate your choices, you open new doors of opportunity  and discover just how much you can really do.  Even if you never accomplish all you aspire toward, you will accomplish so much more than you otherwise would have. In the process you’ll come to realize that the only impostor you ever had to worry about is your fear of people thinking you are one.”

So, by saying yes to writing that first proposal for the opportunity to speak at NEPABlogCon, I was opening a new window of opportunity. I was taking that step into a world where I found myself speaking with confidence about a topic I happen to know very well. No, I haven’t been practicing code since I was 8 like I practiced piano, but I was able to talk about building information products, setting up online courses and writing e-books. And I loved every minute of it!

And, for the first time, I felt that shift. That moment when I can actually say, without qualification, I’m a web designer. How can I help you?

Thank you, NEPABlogCon!


 

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