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Understanding the Value of Invisibility

What is an invisible strength?

A skill you have perfected from a talent or asset that comes naturally to you.

These are your superpowers.

You may diminish how valuable they are as you love what you do. Sometimes even feeling like a fraud for earning money doing something that can come so easy or seamless. You have spent time working on this technique so you should praise your accomplishment and understand that not everyone can do what you do. They may teach or do research, but not exactly like you do.

You have unique hidden talents!

In academia these biggest strengths can be ignored for so long or even exploited by an employer that it then makes it hard for you to find what to do afterwards. Many academics remain stuck because they are in their own head and start to think that their assets are not valuable. They then wrack their brain to think about what they want to do, where they can work, what skills are valuable but don’t always believe that it is possible. Don’t forget that we are big thinkers.

Have you heard of imposter syndrome?

This is when you have an ongoing inability to believe in the success you deserve – how great your skills are – and lessen the worth of the results you create from the effort you have made.

Remember who you are. You have unique superpowers that are invisible because you perform them effortlessly. They are valuable regardless!

Harness a radical mindset to see this as the truth. Push away that doubt and understand how great you are. You are enough and you don’t need any other spices!

Let’s reframe that message of being an imposter

Imposter syndrome mindset…

You believe your employer when they tell you “You’re not showing leadership skills because although you’re bringing in the big funding streams, you’re doing it as a collaborative group of women with equal credit given to everyone instead of as a lone genius.”

Radical mindset…

You counter the employer’s framing with repeating to yourself “My greatest assets are not appreciated here. My employer does not share my values of *teamwork, collaboration, co-production and community building.”

(*whatever your biggest talents are!)

How I can help you regain the belief in your worth

I spoke to an academic who is tenured/permanent and has been in academia for a decade.

All he can see is his contribution to teaching. We had an interesting conversation about how academia doesn’t tend to acknowledge or even align the job to people’s biggest strengths! They are ignored. For this client of mine, he’d forgotten that he’d actually had a successful business idea prior to the PhD and once we talked about the steps and actions he took, he started to see a way out of his circular and rigid thinking pattern.

I also see this play out when I convert CVs to resumes or non-academic CVs. My clients often feel the skills, talents and strengths I’ve translated for them couldn’t possibly be real!

They laugh because they think it’s deceptive language.

For example…

I have strong knowledge and experience of the public service sector and community level change as well as in wellbeing and education, as shown by my work across different stakeholders who have a role in the lives of families and young people.

As you can see, being able to build wide-ranging networks across different hierarchical structures is a talent. Field building is a talent.

I know you are similarly talented, although with different actions!

My personal journey

For me, academia was my personality and I struggled to see my strengths as the assets they are, since I was asked to dim my light so many times in academia. The longer I was in it (20 years), the more I realized my feeling of being a round peg trying to fit in a square hole that wouldn’t flex, or bend was because of the systems in place, not a reflection of my worth.

After a lot of journaling and self-reflection, I’m in a place where I can recognize my value and connect with my priorities in life and align my work with my values. So, I lean into my rebelliousness and my radical way of being in the world. I’m happy to be out of a place that was attracted to my light but wouldn’t let me shine!

I am now in a position where I can help academics to take recognition of their invisible strengths and assist them to find their own brilliant light so they can shine in their own way when making the move away from academia.

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