This article is based on a recent interview I provided to Authority Magazine related to how I have reinvented myself over the duration of my career. I hope you enjoy these expanded reflections!
Marketing professional in a high-tech polymer analysis lab.
Associate Vice President.
I have occupied a lot of distinct roles during my career adventure. Some of them were occupied simultaneously and others ended entirely such that I could step into something new. When I look at the list I feel a little amused and tired all at the same time! The list is so varied and while I may feel old some days, I’m really not. I have progressed through the professional world in a way that doesn’t always make sense for others but for me, it has produced beautiful meaning, fun, success, and opportunities. That’s not to say it has always been easy or felt comfortable. Change can be so hard!
Recently, I was asked how I managed to reinvent myself, overcome barriers, and manifest new strengths. I’m not sure there is a single solution but I do know that having to “get over myself” was one of the biggest barriers to overcome. Chiefly, imposter syndrome and insecurities. I was my biggest roadblock to success. That is, until I was able to embrace the complexities of who I am and what my career journey has looked like.
From Law Enforcement to Marketing + Communications
Let’s look at the transition people seem to marvel at most: leaving law enforcement to work as a marketing and communications director for Polymer Solutions Incorporated, a high-tech testing lab.
I initially felt like a fraud because my degree was in criminal justice, not marketing, communications or business. I was so insecure I omitted my degree and experience as a police officer from my LinkedIn page. Erroneously, I was convinced that if people really knew my background they would question my credibility and overlook me. Little did I know, it was my unexpected background and that made me memorable, a conversation piece, and highly effective. Because I was a novice, I approached everything with fresh eyes, curiosity, and a whole lot of questions.
My intuition-driven approach to marketing and business let me lean into the basics that have to be present for success. Being a good listener, prioritizing relationships, staying up-to-date on best practices, pulling in expertise where you may be weak or lacking. I had no “bad” behaviors to retrain or refocus because I was a blank slate of possibilities within the marketing, communication, and business world. And that is a beautiful thing.
I’m not the only one with career changes or the need to reinvent oneself. Sometimes our transformation is self-induced and other times there are forces beyond our control that instigate a shift. Last time I looked around, our entire planet was weathering a season of tremendous change – and turmoil. It can be so hard — anxieties and insecurities can abound. However, you have opportunities to reevaluate and reinvent as you weather change.
I’d love for you to consider these questions to help you reflect on your own career journey and transformation.
What skillset or talent have you always displayed, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in?
Example: I’ve always been a great communicator (verbally and in writing). As a police officer I wrote great reports and testified in court really well. I then used those skill sets when I wrote copy for clients when I owned my marketing agency. And in higher ed, I was a spokesperson and communicated alllllll the time with local media (like that emphasis? ha!).
When you start to feel overwhelmed or insecure, how can you ground yourself in the reality of your worth and abilities?
Example: I like journaling and coffee to help keep my thoughts clear. Left in my head, I can think some really unkind things about myself. When I put it down on paper I can quickly determine what is unkind and untrue – something about seeing it in black and white is clarifying.
Who can you turn to for support and encouragement as you wrestle with the highs and lows of a season of change?
Example: My mom is one of my best friends and serves as a life historian for me — after all, she’s been there since day 1! She is able to remind me of my life’s trajectory and all I have weathered and overcome. I love the perspective and truth she reminds me of, when I find myself feeling overwhelmed or insecure with something new.
Change is tough – but so are you.
Seasons of change are so tough because they are riddled with the unknown. And often, I think the fear of the unknown is what plagues us at our core. The unknown can’t be controlled and embracing it ironically requires letting go. Stay grounded in the reality of who you were created to be and your track record of overcoming challenges. Surround yourself with those you are your fans and steadfast supporters. Stay the course and embrace the adventure of transformation.
I always love to know the thoughts and reflections my writing prompts for you! Leave comments here or find me on Instagram to connect.