May 17, 2023 | Emerging Leaders, Leadership

By: Sheri Nasim, President & CEO

I once worked for a CEO who challenged me to write my own job description. We’d been working together for a couple of years, and I’d met some pretty big goals that he’d set out for me. When I told my husband about the CEO’s invitation to write my own job description, my husband said,

“Why don’t you make it 25% about what you’re already comfortable with and 75% what you’ve never done before?”

After getting over my initial annoyance at my husband’s advice, I decided to go for it. I wrote a job description that would be my dream position at the company then shared it with the CEO. He thanked me for putting in the effort and asked for some time to think about it. A few days later, he handed my job description back to me across his desk. Not only had he accepted the role that I’d had asked for, but he added another significant amount of responsibility to it.

Quite honestly, it took a full year for me to completely understand what the new role meant in practice. But, the CEO patiently allowed me to grow into it and make it my own. A few years in, I’d fundamentally changed how the management team took responsibility both for strategy execution, budgeting, and accountability for meeting financial results. In the process, I watched our management team grow its collective business acumen and work cross-functionally to deliver results that exceeded our strategic goals. That was one of the greatest growth opportunities I’ve had in my career.

I share this story because this is the kind of imposter syndrome that I wish for my clients, my colleagues, and for you as readers of this message. I want to hear that you’ve been given so much responsibility – coupled with an equal amount of psychological safety – that you question whether you’re really up for the challenge. I want to hear that you’re excited to be part of something bigger than yourself and stretched beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished before. I want you to test your assumptions, double check your math, and have both a sense of excitement and fear.

If you’ve been given an opportunity to do something that’s significantly greater than anything else you’ve ever done before, don’t gaslight yourself into thinking that you don’t have the ability to deliver. Growth begins where your comfort zone ends.

Question: What percentage of your week are you really challenged?



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