24 May

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

I have the privilege of coaching some amazingly talented individuals. From all walks of life, cultures, ages and skill sets. Everyone’s goal is unique and every coaching session is different. You never go into a session knowing how it will end, it is always an interesting journey of discovery.
It’s a beautiful experience to be invited into their space of vulnerability, curiosity and exploration. I always feel very honoured to bear witness to some amazing transformations.
As much as everyone is unique in their ways there is one common thread I see quite often in coaching sessions. Something that affects both men and women, but in my experience, an issue which predominately affects women. That is Imposter Syndrome. The feeling of not being good enough and that one day someone will “catch you out” for not being the person you say you are. It doesn’t matter how talented or brilliant the individual is, they still believe that their career advancements and accolades came from pure luck or being in the right place at the right time.
As a coach, I have pondered this issue many times and what I’ve deduced is that one of the main reasons why people suffer from this syndrome is because they believe they need to be perfect. They strive everyday to achieve this unattainable goal of becoming the “perfect person”. When they have failed they seem to fall deeper into the idea of being an imposter.
The reasons behind this could come from many sources. However in coaching we look at the present and build new habits and strategies to help us move forward. Here are a few techniques you could look at implementing into your life, should you be someone who suffers from Imposter Syndrome.
1) Environment
Who you spend your time with and the people you surround yourself with everyday is a key influencer to how you see yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want people pandering to your every whim or agreeing with everything you say. You want people in your corner who will add value, who will help you grow, positively challenge you and support you. People who genuinely believe in you and your goals.  Are you keeping good company?

2) Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses

We all have weaknesses, whether we like them or not, they are part of who we are and make us unique. By ignoring our weaknesses and sweeping them under the carpet we prevent ourselves from accepting who we are. We  create a very distorted picture of ourselves, believing we are perfect. Acknowledging our whole being, our faults as well as our strengths allows us to create a realistic picture of ourselves. No filters, lies or stories. By facing our weaknesses we are not only able to start improving ourselves, but we can comfortably accept that we are not perfect and challenge the idea of being an imposter.
3) Celebrate your successes
We strive to achieve our goals everyday and when we do achieve them, we either ignore them, glance over them or challenge their credibility. Why? Stop it! Get into the habit of celebrating your successes everyday and every week, even the smallest ones. A win is a win and should always be celebrated. By acknowledging your successes you are re-enforcing the fact that you are not “winging it”. You are debunking the idea that your successes came from pure luck.
4) Partner with a coach or a mentor
Sometimes we need a sounding board, an objective voice who is not a family member, friend or colleague. An independent person who will provide you with that safe space where you can unload, question yourself and develop good strong habits.
Asking for help or guidance shows strength and is another way for you to shift your mindset out of thinking you are an imposter. It’s okay to not be able to do it on your own.
If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, make the decision today to start taking control of your future. You get to decide on who you want to be, nobody else.
26 Apr

What it takes to be a Leader

Throughout history there have been some exceptional leaders, Ghandi, Churchill, and Nelson Mandela are a few that come to mind. All these great leaders have stood out over the decades and have mastered the art of leading a group of people, where in some circumstances have had to lead in the most harrowing of circumstances. What was the reason that people chose to follow these great leaders?

There has been extensive research completed by many universities and organisations over the years to try and pinpoint what exactly are the traits or qualities of a good leader. The research has apparently come back inconclusive. As you can guess, every exceptional leader who has stood out in a crowd has come with a different background, value system, experiences and character. Unfortunately there is no such thing as one neat little set of leadership traits. If you had to compare Ghandi and Churchill, these two men were polar opposites in their leadership styles, even missing a few key leadership traits some would say. However, they are still regarded as great leaders of our time.

There are however two traits that do rise above the countless leadership traits that we see on personal development lists and job description requirements and those two are as follows.

  1. Good leaders have the ability to adapt to their circumstances: A leader is someone who can assess and acknowledge the environment for what it is. Expecting the environment to be perfect for their unique requirements would be an impossible ask. Good leaders can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a situation as well as identify future opportunities.  Never wishing what could be, but knowing what the results will be into the future. Good leaders truly believe in the vision themselves, so much so that their passion and motivation for achieving their vision shines through in all that they do.
  2. Good leaders understand the need for building relationships: Leaders understand that in order to reach the ultimate vision they need the people around them to firstly buy into that vision. Once that has happened only then can action plans be  executed.

How do you get people to follow you or buy into the vision? Well, this could be the place where some of the other important traits come in. Good leaders know that it’s not about spitting out orders and expecting results. It’s ultimately about building relationships. What are some of the characteristics of a strong relationship? What should a good leader be practising everyday?

  • Respect: Earning respect from the team by practising active listening, being accountable for one’s actions, practising what they preach and  stepping up and leading from the front.
  • Empathy: Taking the time to understand the team and how they view the situation. Considering their feedback and suggestions to make them feel part of the process.
  • Loyalty: Being honest and open with the team builds loyalty and trust.
  • Treating everyone as unique: Good leaders take the time to get to know the individual team members. Their style, strengths, challenges, personal goals and dreams. The leader will help each team member to grow, develop and reach personal goals whilst working towards the business vision.

Do you have these leadership traits? If not, what do you need to do to develop them?

08 Jan

Is your environment causing you to re-think your career?

A new year often brings ideas of career or job change. The idea might have been mulling around in your head for a few months, or you might have just been sparked by the new beginnings and potential of the year ahead.  Whatever the reason, it would be wise to explore why these ideas of change are surfacing and then whether or not to enact these changes or else confirm that the idea was just a fleeting thought and you are committed to sticking with the status quo. Allowing closure to take place helps you move on.

However when there is no closure and there is a desire to change, it is important to understand why. As the answer to this question, “Why do you want a career or job change?” should be very clear to you before you embark on a whole new chapter in your life. Making changes for the right reason and being honest with yourself will eliminate future frustrations and regret.

In this article I will be focusing on the question, “Why do you want a career or job change?”    and applying it to the first level of Gregory Bateson’s model of the Logical Levels of Change, Environment.

When you first contemplate a career or job change, it is very natural to initially look outside of oneself and blame someone or something “out there” in the immediate environment for the reason as to why you want to change.

Take a look at the following questions and try and answer them as honestly as you can. This exercise is aimed to clarify if your environment is or is not the main reason for your need for change.

  1.  What are your biggest frustration about your working environment? These would be the things you allow to dominate your thoughts on a regular basis. Focus especially on environmental areas such as your physical working space, equipment, resources, offices day-to-day general policies and procedures, fellow colleagues, etc.Then ask yourself why? You need to be specific as to why you feel this way.For example. Do you hear yourself saying the following?
    • “If I had some proper peace and quiet at work with fewer interruptions…
    • If I had more available resources on this current project…”
    • “I wish I was able to work flexible hours…”
  2. If you had to eliminate any of these frustrations, how would you feel about the actual work you do and your current area of responsibilities?
  3. If you couldn’t eliminate any of these frustrations, how would you feel about your work?
  4. Can you separate your environment from your job? This may initially be a simple question, but it is suggested that you take a moment to think about it and consider how much they influence each other. Do you go to work for the job or the working environment? If you agree with the latter, how would you see your job  if your environment radically changed?
  5. If you believe your issues are environmental, what is your action plan to improve it? What is your change plan?

If the reason for your career or job change is not located in your immediate environment, then look out for next week’s blog post on behaviour. 

29 Aug

Building confidence from the outside in

A friend of mine who works from home, tells me that she always makes sure to wear shoes when walking into her home office. Her wearing shoes, or how she was presented wouldn’t make a difference to anyone as no-one actually sees her in her office. However, as she pointed out to me, she felt more confident in her position when she wore shoes.

People use many different techniques to assist with building their confidence levels.  A lot of these techniques are based on how we think,  feel and process information. Most of these self-help, positive self-talk techniques you could say work from the “inside out”. Get your mind and/or your belief system right and your behaviour, mood and confidence levels start to shift.

Let’s flip things around though. What would happen if instead you worked from the outside in?

How often do your mood and energy levels change for the better after you’ve simply had a new hair cut or dressed in your best outfit?  Putting on your favourite pair of shoes and strutting your stuff can also provide the necessary confidence boost.

The last time you needed a lift in your confidence, how did you look and what were you wearing?  If you had changed your outfit, popped a bit of lipstick on, or wore your lucky tie, would that have made a difference?

Besides your personal presentation and attire, have a look at how you could change your environment to help re-inforce your confidence levels.

Take a look around you. Your environment should put you in a good “head space”. In order to be productive and confident you cannot  feel uncomfortable, irritated or annoyed by your surroundings.

Trying to think positively whilst feeling irritated and annoyed by a messy office, unorganised diary or dirty dishes in the sink can be extremely challenging and very distracting. Why make things harder for yourself?

So not only can you focus on building your self-confidence levels through positive thought (from the  “inside out”), but you can also focus on your environment and how you present yourself. Start thinking about building confidence from the outside in.