Overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’

Drew Goebel talks about confidence on Memorial Day

Gordon Woods / gwoods@theclintonjournal.com
Posted 6/5/24

CLINTON — Clinton Schools business manager Drew Goebel hasn’t always been confident in his abilities, but service in the military helped him overcome negative thoughts.

He spoke at …

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Overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’

Drew Goebel talks about confidence on Memorial Day

Posted

CLINTON — Clinton Schools business manager Drew Goebel hasn’t always been confident in his abilities, but service in the military helped him overcome negative thoughts.

He spoke at this year’s Clinton Memorial Day observance.

“I want to thank the veterans and the active duty service men and women here today and around the world,” the Shelbyville native told the crowd.  “Without them, our country would look drastically different.”

Goebel said he felt many Americans took from granted their freedom.

“They have no idea how good they have it,” he said.  “I’m proud I live in the United State of America, and I am proud I served in the Army National Guard.”

Goebel said he turned down the opportunity to address last year’s Memorial Day observance because, like many people, he finds public speaking intimidating.

“I also thought to myself, ‘People don’t want to hear me speak’,” Goebel said.  “There’s somebody else more qualified and better to be your speaker.”

He said he believed our often-negative inner voices prevented most people from making public addresses.  He added that other people’s opinions also could affect our confidence.

“Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, he once said, ‘Don’t let the noises of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice,” Goebel said.

He said believing someone else is better suited for a job is known as “imposter syndrome.” 

“It’s the persistent, unjustified feeling that one’s success is fraudulent,” he said.  “Imposter syndrome is characterized by self-doubt in one’s ability and fear of having one’s unworthiness exposed.”

Goebel grew up with his parents, his mother a special education teacher and his father an elementary school principal, and two brothers.

He decided to be a teacher, but his parents told him he would have to pay for college on his own.

His father suggested he join the army.  Goebel’s older brother was studying at the University of Illinois and was in the Army National Guard at the time.

“I wasn’t anti-military, but the army just wasn’t something I was considering,” Goebel said.  “My dad was in the army, and both my grandparents had served in World War II, but, I did not see myself in the armed forces.”

He said, however, the more he thought about it, the more he felt the army would be good for him. 

“I wasn’t a bad kid, and I had average grades,” Goebel said.  “But, I did have a strong case of imposter syndrome.”

He felt the army might build his confidence.

“The truth is, joining the army was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Goebel said the army taught him leadership skills.

“The army taught me how to overcome obstacles that stood in my way,” he said.  “It taught me how to work with all kinds of people, especially people who were different than me.”

Goebel enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in 1997 and took his basic training at Ft. Jackson, S.C.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and later a master’s from the University of Illinois.

“The army helped get rid of my imposter syndrome,” Goebel said.  “The army helped me believe in myself.”

He said it was normal to have doubts but felt, often, people weren’t encouraged to accept challenges.  He was glad his parents encouraged him to join the army.

Goebel’s teaching credentials were in social science education.  But, after graduation, he struggled to land a job.  His father suggested contacting large school districts and asking if they had any unfilled special education positions.

That advice made it possible for him to get his first teaching job at Decatur Eisenhower High School.  He taught at-risk students who were on the verge of expulsion.

“I had not taking any courses related to special education, and my students would be with me all day long,” Goebel said.

His students had their own entrance into the school next to their classroom.

“Most people in the school didn’t even know my class existed.”

He said it was a tough year, but he learned the most in that year.

“Leaders need to believe in themselves,” Goebel said.  “I believe in myself.”

He said great leaders, however, do not have big egos.

Goebel said he was nervous about starting the new school year as superintendent but “not losing any sleep over it.”

“I am confident because I am fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing staff of teachers, support staff, directors and school administrators.”
Goebel thanked retired principal John Pine and superintendent Curt Nettles for their mentorship, as well as the Clinton school board.  He also thanked his family for their support.