Trailblazing NFL Coach Katie Sowers tells 2020 graduates how to crush imposter syndrome
NFL coach Katie Sowers wants young people to stop selling themselves short.
The second full-time woman NFL coach and the league’s first openly LGBTQ coach imparted her wisdom to recent graduates on self-doubt and perseverance during Verizon’s Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement series. (Verizon is Cashay’s parent company.)
“We all have doubts, and I think oftentimes we find ourselves hiding these doubts in fear that someone might find out we're not as good as they think we are,” said Sowers, offensive assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Sowers stressed that given the amount of rejection that comes with life — especially when starting your career — your attitude and inner confidence are crucial. Otherwise, roadblocks and rejections can lead to imposter syndrome, the consuming notion that your accomplishments aren’t impressive and you’ll be outed as a fraud.
“When you have confidence in what you can bring and what you can offer, be assertive with confidence— don't be overbearing — but be assertive,” Sowers said. “Get the facts, show what you have to offer, believe in yourself, and go for it.”
Sowers advice to graduates: Since it’s not realistic to expect to hear from every job you apply to, stop yourself if your thoughts start to devolve into thinking you’re not good enough. Don’t write a false narrative that devolves into thinking you’re not a strong candidate or undeserving of an opportunity. Competition is fierce and you’ll be up against opponents, but Sowers says it’s assuredness that sets you apart.
Recent graduates aren’t alone in feeling like their lives have been upended by the pandemic: Sowers’ livelihood also hangs in the balance of COVID-19 as the upcoming NFL season remains undefined.
But rather than allowing herself to obsess over what’s beyond her control, Sowers has used the two months of lockdown as a time for reflection and arrived at the realizations of “what's important in life” and that “nothing in life is guaranteed.”
The pandemic is just one obstacle that Sowers impressed to the graduates that they will encounter and she said it can be perceived as a “roadblock” or a “detour.”
“It's not that you're on a different path, it’s just your path is just different than what you expected,” Sowers said. “It is your path, it is your story, and you're writing your story.”
Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement address series will stream live on Fridays at 11 AM ET through June 12. You can watch on Verizon’s LinkedIn Channel, simulcast on Yahoo and Yahoo Life, and will be reaired on Yahoo Finance Fios. Speakers include President Bill Clinton, Hugh Evans, Kevin Love, Jen Rubio, and Hans Vestberg.
Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.
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