Guest Post by Eleanor Beaton, Women’s Leadership Coach
Uplevel: To raise one’s standards; to embody a larger version of oneself; to go through profound discomfort in the journey to true success
Of all the commonly-asked questions I get as a women’s leadership coach, this one is my favourite:
“Am I crazy?”
The question usually comes after a smart, accomplished and intuitive woman has just explained that years of work and dedication have paid off. She has the life/career/business she wanted. She’s making good money. She has met — even exceeded — the goals she set for herself.
Her “success” doesn’t feel like she thought it would.
There’s something (important) missing.
It’s as if her achievement has brought her a new set of challenges that are larger and more bewildering than anything she has faced before.
Now that she has stepped into the light and shown herself and others what she’s capable of, she’s conscious that people are watching what she’s doing. They look up to her. They expect things. They rely on her. She wonders if she has what it takes to live up to the success she is beginning to create. She’s scared of the work involved in maintaining it. She feels a little like Oz behind the smoke and mirrors: you know, just a little ol’ human being.
And with that dose of success fear and Imposter Syndrome, a quiet, disbelieving voice inside her whispers. “And who precisely, are you to be doing this?”
The great irony of it all is that while she’s never been so accomplished and outwardly successful…she has never felt quite so confused and discombobulated.
To get really technical about it, she feels like a hot mess.
Some of you will read this post and have absolutely no clue of what I’m talking about. I say, go forth sweet women and continue knocking it out of the park with grace and conviction.
But for those of you who know that “If I’m so smart why do I feel so unclear” hot-mess feeling, there is something you must know.
You are not crazy.
You are not an imposter.
You are upleveling.
A decade ago I interviewed a CEO whose business had grown more than 1000% in 18 months. I asked him what the experience was like. He was very matter of fact in his response.
“Eleanor, you simply exchange one set of challenges for another, bigger set of challenges. You’re better equipped to meet those challenges, but they are still challenges. And they are still hard to overcome.”
At the time, I thought the CEO was borderline negative and a touch ungrateful.
Today I see that he was pointing out a reality of growth.
Growth is awesome. And it hurts.
You’re not just born once. Throughout your life you are continuously re-born. And each time you uplevel, you move through a dark and mysterious path to reach a new level of YOU.
When you’re going through a little growth spurt, the confusion and discomfort are minimal.
But when you choose to accept your brilliance and seek out major up level — well, that can be painful. Especially when you take into account the over-arching rule of upleveling:
The bigger the uplevel, the hotter the mess.
In the midst of the chaos, it’s helpful to remember this:
Darkness, confusion, uncertainty: this is the starting point for major growth and transformation.
They are the necessary ingredients of try change.
So if you feel lost, lonely, dissatisfied and “crazy” for feeling all of these things despite all the wonderful things you have in your life, I tell you this:
You are not insane.
You are not in your own way.
You are upleveling.
So buckle up and relax into the ride my dear.
We’ll all see you at the top.