CareerThe Vulnerability Challenge

#TheVulnerabilityChallenge: Armouring up with certifications (Day 4)

Hayley Stanton
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Hayley Stanton

Director & Coach at Quiet Connections
Hayley shares her personal stories of feeling shy, socially anxious, ‘not good enough’ and fearfully avoiding the good things in life. Growing her confidence through coaching, gradually stretching her comfort zone and connecting with others, she now uses everything she has learned to help other people grow their confidence in her role as a coach. Hayley is passionate about connecting people with similar stories and creating safe, supportive spaces to make friends and try new things. Hayley dreams of a time when all of the strengths, skills and goodness in ‘quiet’ is recognised and appreciated as readily as being bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight is right now.
Hayley Stanton
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#TheVulnerabilityChallenge Day 4

Qualifications are armour that I wear to hide my self-doubt

In my career I’ve never felt like I’m good enough, like I know enough or I’m competent enough. I imagine that I’ll feel competent and knowledgeable when I learn this or practise that; when I get the next advanced certification or when so and so says I’m qualified. But the truth is, I get the thing that I’ve aimed for, and I’m already looking for the next seal of approval. The feeling of self-doubt just doesn’t go away and I end up with a pile of certifications and knowledge that I won’t feel courageous enough to use. My qualifications are armour that I wear to hide the self-doubt.

It actually hurts me to share this. I think I’d rather be talking about all the time I’ve spent hiding in the loos right now. I’m getting more comfortable with people knowing that’s somewhere I’ve spent a lot of my life. But in my career, I want to be seen as competent. I want to feel that way too. This is really important to me. Particularly now, as someone who helps people and is growing a company and planning on to collaborating with others. I don’t believe there’s room for self-doubting feelings and I ‘should’ feel confident in myself and what I do.

I guess from a young age, I’ve always been pretty focused on my career. I’ve had no family plans, I was the career girl. I set myself high expectations to live up to. In my mind, I was supposed to have my shit together by the time I was 30 (that gives me a whole 9 months to succeed then!) I look around at other business people and entrepreneurs and at first glance I see what looks to me like confidence and competence. I’m not sure I have that. Can I be successful?

It’s funny, when I look again or dig a little deeper, I see something else. Some of the most successful people I know are having the same kind of thoughts. Not all of them are armouring up with certifications like me. Some are perfectionists. Some wear a mask. Others are numb with analysis, over-planning, people-pleasing, or workaholism. Most of us are staying silent and hiding this part of ourselves in our efforts to protect us from judgement. To appear like we’ve got this whole career thing or running a business figured out. But some people have learned to get honest. To talk about these feelings with others and watch the power of those thoughts diminish as the words are spoken.

Knowing I’m not alone, and people I consider to be successful have had these sort of thoughts too – and that some still do – gives me the power to move forward despite the way I feel and the times I doubt myself. I’m starting to think that feeling confident and competent all the time is actually a pretty big ask for anyone.


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