I had been waiting for this moment for months. I was so freaking excited.
I had flown out to Chicago for my first in-person facilitation. Even though I had run workshop sessions and conferences in previous jobs, this was my first official gig under the One Eleven Leadership banner. Plus, it was not going to be virtual, but IRL (in real life) which meant real people with real emotions instead of boxes on screens with emojis. The night before the event was set to begin, I prepped my sticky easel paper and practiced my transitions. I cracked open my still-shrinkwrapped Visual Explorer cards, which were the very first purchase I made when my very first One Eleven Leadership check came in because they made me feel like a legitimate facilitator. This was really happening.
The two-day leadership retreat flew by and I felt like I was in my element. I was in my Zone of Genius. I experienced Flow. I had found Ikigai. I celebrated with a $16 beer at the airport bar before my flight home.
A few days later in advance of our scheduled debrief, the program leads shared the results of the feedback survey they had sent to participants. I quickly scrolled down to one of the questions we had discussed including: What did you like most about our facilitator, Marissa Lifshen Steinberger?
I skimmed the overwhelmingly positive responses such as, “I thought she did a great job. I loved some of her activities and hope that we can use them for some of our PD and staff meetings throughout the year” and “her style, she kept things moving, was able to read the group, the varied activities, the way she made everyone feel comfortable.” I cracked a smile when I saw, “Amazing!!! I want to be her friend.”
I kept scrolling to the second question: What feedback do you have for Marissa? I ignored “none actually!” and “you have a wonderful, calm, generous presentation style." Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy obsessing about one particular comment: “I wasn't amazed by her.”
I know it wasn't actually personal, but it certainly felt that way. I had just publicly declared that this was my calling, that I believed that this is the work I was meant to do in the world, and that facilitating impactful experiences for teams was the way I could most meaningfully share my gifts with others, so to see that note was a gut punch. It definitely triggered the critical inner voice in my head that reinforced that I’m an imposter, have no clue what I’m doing, and now someone had found me out. I felt shame. Loads of it. I wallowed in it for days.
The following week, my mom was visiting me and my family. When she is in town, she loves cooking for us, and I love that she loves cooking for us. We were having dinner one night and she noticed that my husband only took a small portion of the large quinoa salad she had made. “Is there something wrong? Do you not like quinoa?” she asked. He simply shrugged and said, “not really.” She turned to me for validation and genuinely looked wounded. I said, “Mom, the quinoa salad is delicious. I’ve already had seconds. It’s just not his thing. It’s not personal.”
As the words came out of my mouth, I realized I needed to take my own advice to heart. One person's lukewarm opinion of me doesn’t indicate that I’m in the wrong profession. One outlier response doesn’t mean that I’m a fraud nor that I am a failure. In fact, I realized that other people's experience of me had very little to do with what I think about myself, what I consider to be my passions, and how I choose to share them with the world.
And, if I ever lose sight of that, I just have to remind myself that I'm not going to be everyone’s thing, just like quinoa salad.
If you (or someone you know) could benefit from working with a certified coach and trained facilitator who will provide customized, holistic, and tireless support as you or your team identify and take action towards your goals, please reach out to One Eleven Leadership to set up a complimentary consultation.