Recently I was asked to speak at a ‘blog-in’ about imposter syndrome. The request came from Sandra, who was organising the blog-in after a conversation we had a week or so before. We got talking about our skills and how often we undervalue them. I’m very grateful for my journey in life. It has steered my path to study Psychology, Gender & Cultural Studies, Sexology, Business, Training and NLP and my work is as a leadership coach and trainer. I’m also a writer and send a weekly newsletter to an email group. It’s fair to say I have a lot of skills and I have complete confidence in my ability to help others who may need some help to move forward in their life, business or relationship.
Because I work in the personal development space I am always looking for the latest research, following inspiring people and learning new things. I’ve always been curious about the world we live in and what makes people do the things they do. And it’s easy to forget, when we are following those ahead of us on our journey, that we have learned some things along the way.
As a young girl I rode horses competitively. I was very talented and would always get either first and second or first and third on my two show jumpers. My coach/trainer was my ‘earth father’ Uncle Roy. He always told me that my results would speak for themselves and I didn’t need to brag. One of his favourite sayings was ‘self praise is no recommendation’. And so now, decades later…when it comes to marketing myself and my business I struggle. It feels like bragging to tell people how great I am at what I do and I hear Uncle Roy’s words in my head. This is the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at work. It’s the fear that any minute now people will work out I’m not everything they think I am….that somehow I’ve bluffed my way here and ‘they’ will expose me for the fraud I am…which is ridiculous and untrue.
This was brought home to me in a dramatic way a few years ago when I was working with a Jack Canfield coach. I was expressing to him that people would often follow my journey, comment on how inspiring it was and eventually show up for either a coaching program or workshop I was offering. I told this coach I ‘just don’t get it….after all I’m no one special and yet these people look up to me’. He asked me if I had a mirror in my house. I said ‘of course’. He then told me to go and stand in front of the mirror and asked me what I saw when I stood there. ‘I see me’ I replied.
‘No’ he said….’what you see if a two dimensional representation of you and what other people see is all three dimensions’. He went on to tell me ‘you don’t have to understand why they follow you….the fact is they do. You are so busy looking ahead that you forgot that just as you are following others there are those who are following you.’ As I pondered this he said ‘just keep doing what you are doing…that in itself inspires others’. His last piece of advice for me was that whatever they decide about who I am and my abilities is a reflection of them rather than of me. As long as I stay true to my journey then it’s impossible to be an imposter in my own life. They will decide for themselves whether I am worthy to follow without me doing anything to ‘trick’ them into that.
- Don’t underestimate yourself. You have skills. You do your particular skills in a different way to every other person who may have the same skills. What you bring with you is your learning, your desires, your passions and your personality.
- You cannot be an imposter if you think about what you want to do and why and are taking steps in that direction.
- Do things your way.
- Hold your head high and keep going and being an inspiration to those who follow you.