The second annual Ignite! Women in Insurance Symposium was held Tuesday, May 7 at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha. The gathering joined more than 150 women for an empowering, educational morning featuring two keynote presentations and a mediated panel discussion.
In my opinion, women’s conferences can become overly thematic and hollow – all buzzwords and clichés without any calls to action or applicable takeaways. Ignite! was different. The speakers shared personal examples of successes and failures alike, and attendees had the opportunity to network and collaborate through small group exercises.
Of all the career insights and stories shared, a prevailing theme of overcoming Imposter Syndrome is what stood out to me most.
Imposter Syndrome is especially common among women, though it does affect men as well, and can be described as the feeling that one’s success was gained through luck or good timing rather than hard work or talent. People with Imposter Syndrome have trouble owning their achievements and are in constant fear of being “found out” as being not nearly as intelligent or capable as their title may suggest.
As a 25-year-old young professional and the newest member of the event’s Planning Committee, I was harboring some of these very sentiments on the morning of the symposium. I felt small among the group of well-established businesswomen. But by the time closing remarks were given, I had an entirely different attitude. After hearing about the shared struggles and successes of these accomplished women, I left with a bolstered sense of purpose and contentment.
The education around Imposter Syndrome offered perspective on how one may be feeling in the workplace, but what was even more enlightening was the advice on where to go from there. What started as discussions about Imposter Syndrome morphed into talks on bravery, risk-taking and mentorship. The concepts below felt especially worth highlighting:
- A career path, or at least a fulfilling one, is rarely linear. Lateral job shifts and even restarting at the bottom can end up being the most worthwhile move.
- Acknowledging our personal fears and asking others for help are not signs of weakness. There is growth and strength to be found in vulnerability.
- Success looks different for everyone. Set goals that matter to you.
One speaker put it best when she said that “igniting another’s flame does not dim your own, but rather makes more light.” These words really summed up the event for me. We all have the ability to fan someone’s flame and create a brighter workplace, industry, world. It’s not easy to admit to our weaknesses and it may not feel comfortable to broadcast our successes, but getting over our Imposter Syndrome and embracing our competence is its own type of female empowerment. So, support others and accept support when it’s offered to you – and let’s see how much stronger we can all become as a result.