October 29th 2019

Today at work I was asked to do a piece of work that made me feel uncomfortable. And I only realised I was feeling uncomfortable when my boss said “it’s making James feel uncomfortable”. And, like, shit yeah it was. And so when I realised that I tried to unpack it and figure out what was going on, and I realised that it made me uncomfortable because I didn’t back myself to be able to do it.

I was in a meeting with my boss, and his boss, and I’d been asked to create a report that forecasted our sales performance for next year based on our allocated marketing budget, and our relative performance this year. I know how to do that, and anything I don’t know I could figure out, but I just didn’t back myself. I’d done the work, but I was hesitant to commit to the numbers I’d come up with because I didn’t back myself.

The numbers that I come up with are going to be used as part of the numbers against which our performance is measured next year, by the board, and by the CEO, and so I was feeling the pressure a bit. I didn’t want to undercommit and be accused of not being ambitious, but I didn’t want to overcommit and be held accountable for a failure to deliver what I said we could deliver, and so yeah, I felt uncomfortable.

I was thinking about it on the way home, and I realised that I didn’t need to back myself, because my boss backed me, and so did his boss. I was worried about being underqualified, or unprepared to complete the task they’d set me, but I realised that they wouldn’t have asked me to do it if they didn’t know that I was capable of doing it. Or at least capable of figuring out how to do it.

And that’s kind of always been the case. From the very start of my career, from fighting to hire me, to fighting to keep me, to sending me to Germany to have a meeting with the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Product, they’ve both backed me all the way.

Until tomorrow, and that, by proxy, allows me to back myself.


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