I saw a poll on LinkedIn recently asking if one suffers from Impostor Syndrome?
Options were Yes / No / No such thing
What is it? It’s that feeling that you are not good enough. That you don’t deserve to be here. That at any moment people will find out that you don’t have the skills and the qualifications and your world will come crashing round about you.
So – do you “suffer” from it? Or do you recognise that others do, but you don’t. Or do you just refuse to acknowledge that it exists. I have seen comments indicating that some people have no idea that it is a thing!
Some (most?) of us may find it appearing only occasionally – maybe when you pitch to a super big prospect – why would they want little old me?
Or maybe you hold off from going for a promotion or a better job. Or take up that opportunity to speak at a big event?
We can all (well apparently not all) sometimes feel we are not good enough.
So passing up the massive speaking engagement may not be a big deal – but if it starts to hold you back every day, it’s an issue.
People will read my blog and think it’s rubbish
I can’t appear on Facebook Lives or Reels.
Or even – I can’t speak up in meetings where everyone is more competent / senior / assured… And so on.
There are many ways to overcome this. One is to feel the fear and do it anyway – but that really doesn’t work for a lot of people – who feel the fear and do… nothing.
Oh and as an aside – there is a gender bias to all this. Women are more likely to be less confident at putting themselves forward – they won’t apply for a job unless they have a 90% skills match, but men at 50% will go “hey I can probably do that or wing it”! (and yes – that is a generalisation but it is true and measurable).
So – what if there were a better way to overcome what’s holding you back?
In her book Better than Confidence, Helen Frewin outlines some ways to think differently about these challenges and meet them head on. Some ways of thinking differently and not just “be more confident”!
Because just “Being Confident” isn’t quite enough, is it? We need to be prepared, we need to focus on what it is we actually need to do!
What if we focused on the OUTCOME we want – the Destination if you will. Or what if we considered what we want for OTHERS? Your team, your customers?
Being Brave (feel the fear and do it anyway) is all about stepping out of your comfort zone – and that will be my topic for another day.
Being Prepared is a bit of a given – if you have to speak in public then rehearsal and practice is obviously a solid strategy – so let’s focus on the first two.
Avoid the Rocks
So let’s examine Outcomes first – the issue is that we tend to talk to ourselves about what we DON’T want – I don’t want to look stupid, I don’t want to get this wrong. One of the stories in Helen’s book (which I have also had told to me when riding a bike on rough terrain) is to look ahead at where you want to go – NOT to look at the ground immediately in front of the wheel. If you focus on that hole or that stone then you are strangely drawn to it and BOOM – you’re off!
It’s the same with the “I don’t wants” – you will be drawn inexorably towards them. So look ahead to the outcome you want – in the pitch for example. Focus on where you want to go and not on the things you want to avoid.
Actually sitting down and thinking about the destination you are aiming for will give you the clarity you need to just go for it – and not get sidelined by the rocks and holes. And ask yourself WHY it’s important to you – “if I land this client it will keep me going for 3 months”. Think as well about how you will know when you have got there – how will you measure your success. Now we are looking at the end of the route ahead and off we go!
Similar – but slightly different – be Others focused. How can you help others – makes it less about you and more about others and therefore – again – your focus moves. What do others need? What can I do to help them get what they want?
Think about what you do know – ask yourself what you can do with that knowledge or skill that will help others. This gets you “out of your head”. It makes you fast forward to actually doing a good job rather than worrying about doing a good job! So think about the outcomes for others rather than yourself.
Hopefully these ideas will challenge you to think a bit differently next time you are plagued with self-doubt. And even if you don’t have “impostor syndrome” then maybe you can use this thinking just to do a better job? In a couple of weeks we will talk about the Growth Mindset and how you can challenge yourself to et outside your comfort zone! So take up that invitation to speak in public!
if you need more than confidence and would like to talk this through then please do Get in touch.