Tuesday Tales: Do you know how awesome you are? Part 1 – Donna Thistlethwaite

It seems that many of us don’t always see in ourselves what others can see in us.

This has come up for me on a few occasions recently, particularly in relation to accepting award nominations. Recognition awards usually offer self-nomination, other-than-self-nomination, or both. Usually, once you are nominated for an award, even by someone else, you are required to complete a submission, aka application.

I recently submitted for the AusMumPreneur Awards after a contact nominated me. I knew of the awards but had no intention of nominating, mainly because my attention was focused on other things.  I ultimately figured that the recognition that could come from participating would likely expand the reach of my message and brand and I got to work on the application. I also recognised that I have come a long way in the eight years I’ve been in business and that I could be an inspiration to other mums considering starting a business.

The application was still in progress at the eleventh hour, and I felt like giving up, but I hung in there and have since heard that I have been selected as a finalist in a few categories!

Part of my journey to THRIVING has been to lean into expression – sharing what’s on my mind and my heart. Now it often happens automatically. Just yesterday I told someone how much I admire them. How amazing it’s been to see his substantial growth over the past two years and how inspired I am by his leadership and willingness to consistently step up and to serve people. He responded bashfully, even downplaying his achievements.

I mentioned that my observations motivated me to nominate him for an industry award early in the year. He responded with “Oh right, they told me someone had nominated me, but I didn’t put in a submission … I didn’t think I was ready yet.” Seems it’s not just women who experience imposter syndrome. Over the next 10 minutes, I pointed out his many worthy achievements. His humility was admirable, and it brought to mind a quote I’d seen on social media that very morning:

“Don’t work for recognition but do work worthy of recognition” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

This speaker clearly isn’t looking for acknowledgement, but he is definitely doing work worthy of recognition.

Would you believe later that night at an event the conversation of awards came up again when a friend congratulated me on becoming an AusMumPreneur finalist? I joined in the conversation with him and our friend Candice. Candice shared that she had been nominated for an award for achievements in STEM last year but couldn’t bring herself to put in the submission.

Let me just say that a mutual friend of Candice’s and mine has told me that Candice is one very smart woman and a fantastic leader. Candice shared that when she was advised she’d been nominated she thought they’d made a mistake because there was another Candice in the organisation, an engineer, and she was just a mathematician. Candice now recognises that she had experienced imposter syndrome in thinking that she was not worthy of the award.

So what can you do if you ever find yourself in this position? Here are a few of my recommendations:

  • Reach out to the person who nominated you and ask why they did.
  • Ask them what it is that they see in you and think about why you’re not seeing it too.
  • Speak to your support team (a group of people you have to bounce ideas off, people who see what’s awesome in you and who can offer you a different perspective). Find out their thoughts.
  • Believe in yourself and go for it.

This one’s for you Candice. It’s time all of us started to own our successes. You absolutely should be recognised for work that is worthy of recognition!

It seems that I have a bit to say on this topic so stay tuned for part 2 in next week’s Tuesday Tales.

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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