Can I let you in on a secret? For years, I was scared to call myself a writer.
I had spent my entire academic career writing things. I even wrote for the student newspaper at my university. But I never saw anything special about that because everyone writes in school.
Things began to change soon after college, though. An adviser to the student newspaper staff called me shortly after graduation and asked if I had a job yet. He had a friend who was looking for a travel writer and wanted to meet me.
That friend was Mac Lacy, publisher of this magazine and its sister titles, The Group Travel Leader, Select Traveler and Small Market Meetings.
I took the meeting, and Mac set me up with a travel writing assignment. I was excited to go but also apprehensive. I didn’t feel like a professional writer — I didn’t even have a business card — and I was nervous that the people I met there would discover my secret.
Somehow, I made it through that trip, wrote the article and turned it in. The editor accepted it and ran it in the magazine. And I got paid.
By definition, that paycheck and the stream of assignments that followed made me a professional travel writer. But I still felt like a fraud; in my mind, real writers had some credential, talent or qualification that I didn’t see in myself.
It took some time for me to accept that the only qualification that mattered was that I was doing the work, and doing it well. I eventually realized I was as qualified as anyone to call myself a writer. Because the only thing you have to do to be a writer is write.
I share this story because a lot of you out there may secretly be harboring similar feelings. You’ve been given a job to do, a group to lead or a ministry to take over, and although you’re excited about the opportunity, a part of you believes you don’t have what it takes.
I encourage you not to let this fear hold you back. You may not see enough talent or strength in yourself, but someone else does — that’s why they offered you the job.
All that’s required to be a leader is to lead. All that’s required to be a teacher is to teach. All that’s required to be a minister is to minister to people. All that’s required to be a travel planner is to take someone on a trip.
For your church, company or travel organization to thrive, you must embrace your position and approach it with confidence. Lean into your calling; don’t let your qualifications, or lack thereof, stand in the way of your potential. Your identity does not come from who someone else says you are; it comes from who you decide to be.
You’ll make mistakes along the way. I did. But those mistakes taught me important lessons and eventually made me a seasoned professional. Today, I proudly call myself a professional travel journalist because I jumped into the deep end, did the hard work and learned what I needed to know along the way.
If you take the same approach, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go in your role, no matter how qualified you think you are.