How are you doing this week? I do hope you’ve been able to enjoy a little of the brighter spring weather and the lifting of the lockdown restrictions. It makes such a difference doesn’t it?!
Reading some of the opinion pieces about our responses to coming out of lockdown and creating “the new normal” that supposedly comes afterwards, I’ve been intrigued that people focus on stories of change. The professionals who abandon their city-based lives and reinvent themselves as dogwalkers or decide to retrain as care workers. I suspect these are the headline-making minority but it’s interesting to read how the last year has caused us to think again about our priorities.
Going through a time of reflection on what I deliver for my business I did take time to ask why I do what I do and does it matter? If ever there was an opportunity to refocus, is this it?
In the end I didn’t refocus as much as add another string to my bow… I’m creating a new product and wonder if you’d like a little early preview? You can sign up for my Out of Overwhelm Route Map here:
Please do let me know what you think! This is the free lead magnet while I’m working on the main product. I’d be delighted to have some feedback.
But given that I’ve not changed my focus, why do I think Imposter Syndrome feelings are still so important? Does it even matter?
In my work within organisations and with individual clients I find many people who are pretty good at what they do but who still feel that they are not good enough or that they don’t deserve the recognition that they have. Some will label this experience as feeling like a fraud, others as feeling like a bit of an imposter. Most will wish that they felt as good as other people seem to think they are.
Whatever you call it, if these are feelings you experience occasionally or only in certain situations, do they really matter?
Yes, I think they do. I still find many people, women and men, are held back, they don’t contribute their best at work and spend much of their working lives feeling pretty awful about being there and, personally I think that’s a shame.
I see three ways that this works out. They are self-protective behaviours that look very different in practice but they can share a common root, the intention to hide and protect the vulnerable heart.
So what are these behaviours? People might hold back, push forward or drop out.
Holding back: Many people who feel like a fraud spend a lot of time holding back, trying to hide a part of themselves from the public view, they hesitate when presented with the opportunity to shine…
Trying to stay out of the spotlight and have a successful career – can be challenging.
Trying to have a successful career and never making a mistake – almost impossible.
If you’re afraid of being found out, not being good enough the chances are that you will play within your comfort zone. It might be your zone of expertise but it will likely be a place where you feel safe. And playing it safe can stifle growth, innovation and creativity.
Pushing forward: Some people who are afraid of being found out react in what feels like a very different way. They are so afraid of being found wanting that they will work incredibly hard to make sure you never guess that they have a hint of self-doubt. They will rise to the challenge, volunteer for the opportunity, challenge anyone who doubts them. The work that they produce will be crafted and polished to perfection. The feeling here is that, if I can just make my work perfect enough I might never have to experience the pain and humiliation of being judged as not good enough. The price they pay for this display of brilliance is overwork, anxiety and burnout. The hamster-wheel is out of control and they are only ever as good as their last piece of output.
Dropping out: The antithesis of the over-achiever is the dropout. There will be some people who are so disturbed at the prospect of being found wanting that they won’t even try. They don’t play within their zone of expertise. They daren’t try to be perfect. They are so concerned that they don’t have the resources that they’ll avoid being in the game at all. They give up on their dreams and play in a different game altogether, a game where there are few challenges, fewer surprises and precious little satisfaction.
When I wrote my book “Beyond Imposter Syndrome” I said “To journey beyond imposter syndrome we need the courage to know ourselves honestly as we tell our own stories, compassion to treat ourselves gently as we grow and to accept the truth of ourselves secure in the knowledge that we are enough.”.
When we accept ourselves in this way we don’t need those self-protective behaviours of holding back, pushing forward or dropping out. Our work becomes an exploration. It can be centred in our passion, in curiosity about ourselves and our potential for growth. We discover the capacity to surprise ourselves.
When we let go of our armour we release so much creative energy in that final breath, at last… this is me.
So yes, here I am, doing what I do, helping people know themselves and bring their best selves to work.
How about you? Do you know your best self? Do you celebrate your shining through your work? Are you still struggling, holding back, pushing forward, dropping out, anything as long as people don’t see the real you?
Is there anything else you need to break this habit?
Do let me know!
PS I’d be delighted if you shared your thoughts about my Out of Overwhelm Route Map – it’s always a joy to hear from you!