This is me

In a break from tradition, this isn’t a #WorkoutWednesday solution guide. Instead this is likely to be more of a ‘heart on my sleeve’ type of post; a bit of self-reflection and musings on my current state of mind. Don’t be alarmed – I’m perfectly well; I’m just having a little identity crisis and hoping that by putting ‘pen to paper’, it alleviates some of those feelings that bounce around in my brain.

2022 so far has been an epic year in terms of my career, and we’re only 4 full months in…. I’ve joined a brilliant consultancy, been named a Tableau Visionary and in a few days, I’ll be heading to my first major Tableau Conference in Las Vegas.

It’s all incredibly exciting, but also overwhelming at the same time, and the classic ‘imposter syndrome’ anxieties have started to creep in… am I really good enough, do people think I’m a fraud…?

You see, I worry about what people think of me. This isn’t anything new, it’s been like that since my school days, and it affects all aspects of my life, both professional and personal. I’ve accepted it isn’t anything I’m ever likely to ‘get over’, and work hard to try not to overanalyse things too much (but hey, I’m a data person after all, and isn’t that just the type of people we are 🙂 ).

On a professional level, since leaving a company I’d been at for 20 years, my confidence levels and belief in myself have increased significantly, and certainly helped me get my current role. But I’ve now gone from companies where I was the acknowledged Tableau ‘expert’, to a consultancy firm which is full of brilliant Tableau people. It’s fabulous – I’m surrounded by people who love Tableau and just ‘get it’; who are all incredibly supportive and helpful. But still, I can’t help but worry about peoples’ expectations of me and my capabilities. I’ve built up a profile in the Tableau community over the years, and some people in the company had heard of me….. “Is that THE Donna Coles joining us?” Gulp!

And then came the Visionary announcement.

I knew I’d been nominated, but never did I think I’d actually get selected!

I complete the #WorkoutWednesday challenges and blog my solutions, and I commit myself to that task. I plan my weekly activities around fitting in completing the challenge and writing up my solution (it’s sooooo helpful when the challenge actually lands on a Tuesday). And that’s it. I don’t come up with any clever ways of using Tableau, I don’t produce beautifully crafted visualisations. I don’t organise user groups or run any community projects. I am a Tableau Forums Ambassador and have been for several years, but even there, I’m not the one at the top of the leader board answering question after question. I tend to dip in when I can (which definitely isn’t as often as I’d like) and manage the moderation queue and be vocal in the forum ambassador meet ups, sharing my thoughts and experiences about the platform and the program.

When I was originally asked to be an Ambassador, I was told “just keep doing what you do”, and those sentiments were echoed again when I joined my first Visionary meet-up. It’s what I’m already doing that has got me recognised; there’s no expectations to do more. There may well be new opportunities that open up, but it’s my choice to pursue if I wish.

So that’s what I took onboard, and try to keep telling myself….”just keep doing what you do”. I don’t feel I have time to do ‘more’ – some days I do just want to ‘Netflix & chill’ – and that’s just as it should be.

And I was gradually beginning to feel more comfortable with the moniker I’d been awarded.

But then I was on a remote internal training session at work, and part of the activities involved reworking some dashboards in a short space of time. And I panicked. The weight of expectation built up and I struggled to come up with anything I felt worthy of sharing in the timeframe for fear of judgement. Others were confident to share their work, while I, the Visionary, couldn’t.

And so the questions over my worthiness rose again, which has led me to writing this post. I’m not seeking validation for being in the role I’m in. I’m simply writing this down to help me accept who I am.

I know what I’m good at, and I also know what I’m not so great at – there’s also plenty I haven’t got a scooby about! And that is most probably the case with all the Visionaries. We’re only human after all!

It is the Community and Tableau that have recognised what I do and if it’s good enough for them, then who am I to object? I will endeavour to continue doing what I’ve been doing and help where I can.

If you’ve made it this far, then thank you. Writing this down has been quite a cathartic experience, and if it helps anyone else who reads this, then that’s a bonus too 🙂

If you’re at TC22 in person, then feel free to reach out and say ‘hi’. Just don’t ask me to rebuild a dashboard in 20 mins 😉


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