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- Colin Bertram
- Mar 28, 2018
How I Built a Successful Career By Refusing to Play the ‘What If’ Game
Tamika Tremaglio is not one to walk away from a challenge. In 2017, when she was named Deloitte’s Greater Washington managing principal, overseeing more than 10,000 audit, tax, advisory, and consulting professionals in the Washington, D.C. area, she became the first ever African-American woman to hold the position. But building her successful career over two decades meant overcoming many obstacles, including some self-imposed challenges. Here, Tremaglio shares the three top career tips that have helped her get ahead.
LIFT AS YOU CLIMB
I cannot say enough wonderful things about mentorship. That was very critical for me. I looked for people I wanted to emulate, women and men who really exemplified what I wanted to be and asked their opinion on what would help me to succeed. Many were gracious enough to offer their time and opinions.
Often, we look for mentors who look like us, but I think it is even more important to look for those who share the values that you want to bring forth. That’s really what is crucial, and, to be frank, for me as an African-American woman, the people who look like me do not always have a seat at the table. So, if I am just looking for those people, they are not always going to be there. Plus, while it is great to have role models who look and act like you, it can also be valuable to learn from people who are different from you.
As you grow your career, it’s important to be a mentor to others as well. My father would always tell me you can never forget where you came from and to always bring other people up, to lift as you climb. I make it a priority and there is not a week that goes by that I don’t spend time mentoring.
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE — AND FIGHT — IMPOSTER SYNDROME
I have learned a lot recently from a woman who I regard as a great mentor, Joyce Roche, author of “The Empress Has No Clothes.” In her book, Roche talks a lot about feeling inadequate — also known as “imposter syndrome” — and overcompensating by working too much and losing work-life balance. That was absolutely an a-ha moment for me.
I realized I didn’t have to continuously prove myself every single day, to show others that I belonged and that I deserved to be there. Throughout my career, I sometimes made the mistake of feeling insecurity in the roles that I was in, and that frame of thinking can lead to all sorts of other mistakes. You must recognize that you are good enough. Keep striving and doing the things that you do well, but you shouldn’t constantly feel you must prove yourself on a daily basis.
DON’T PLAY THE “WHAT IF” GAME
Another thing I have learned is to never look back. When a decision has been made, that decision is done. It’s natural to have those “what if” moments, but instead of asking yourself, “What if I had done this? Or what if I had done that?” live in that moment and realize that the decision has been made. You are meant to be where you are right now, so do the very best that you can in that role.
Sure, you may do things and realize that you could have made a different decision. The key is to not doubt yourself over past actions, which could lead to future missteps.
When you start focusing exclusively on other roles or things from the past, it’s easy to then make mistakes in the actual role that you’re in because it doesn’t have your full attention. You’re better off being very focused on what you are doing now. Move forward.
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