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.
20 Jul

5 steps to dealing with limiting beliefs

Put your hand up if you’ve ever doubted your abilities, considered yourself a fraud or an imposter? Have you ever thought you were operating on borrowed time waiting for someone to catch you out, and expose you for the fake you believe you are? These thoughts are what we calling self-limiting beliefs.  Welcome to the club, everybody experiences limiting beliefs at different stages and ages in their lives and careers, it is normal.

The trick here is learning how to keep the nasty little voices in your head at bay and to learn how to manage and control them.

  1. Don’t ignore them

    Trying to ignore these thoughts and push them under the carpet might hold them back for a short period, but they are still under the carpet. Ignoring your limiting beliefs  doesn’t miraculously get rid of the beliefs, it just delays the inevitable, causes a lot of undue stress and creates a tripping hazard in your life. So when you least expect it, you could stumble over the limiting  belief hump which lies buried under the carpet.

  2. Acknowledge and name them

    So often we turn away from these limiting beliefs because we see them as weaknesses and perhaps character flaws. Because we find it painful to deal with them and shamefully believe that these little voices are confirming a truth. The more we turn away from these negative beliefs or ignore them they tend to grow.  They become larger, more hurtful and more controlling. So instead of ignoring them, acknowledge them. Face them head on. Acknowledge their existence and name them. By doing this you are able to start the journey of learning how to manage and control them on your own terms.

  3. Get curious

    Start by taking some time out of your schedule and get really curious about why these limiting beliefs seem to appear in your life. Where do these thoughts originate from? What experience is supporting these beliefs? What triggers these feelings and beliefs? How am I benefiting from holding onto these thoughts? Was there a time were I didn’t have these beliefs and why is there a change?

    Dig deep and question everything. Pull your thoughts apart. Challenge!

  4. Make a plan

    Once you’ve dissected the belief and examined every side of it, warts and all, come up with a plan for how you will deal with it. Depending on what you discover, you may need to work on positive affirmations, learn a new skill, seek professional guidance or work on changing a behaviour, which is not serving you. There are many ways, but it is essential that you find the alternative. This will allow you to take charge. To take control.

  5. Let it go

    Once you’ve started implementing your plan, your habits will start to change for the better. There is no place to store your old limiting beliefs, they just get in the way. Make the decision and learn to let them go.

I am aware that this is easier said than done. It’s damn hard work to wrestle your negative thoughts into submission and sometimes we don’t always get it right. But, ask yourself this. “If you don’t change your limiting beliefs, what will happen?” If you are not satisfied with your answer then go back to point 1 of this article and start taking control of your limiting beliefs.

Need some help with taking charge of your limiting beliefs? Need a coach? Contact Nicole @ nicole@tikumu.co.nz

19 Jan

Labelling employees can lead to negative behaviour

To get the best out of a team, to keep things fresh and to avoid the uninspiring practise of “group think”, organisational teams these days are purposefully constructed with a mix of complimentary talents, thinking styles and competencies.

Playing to your individual team members strengths is key to achieving business goals and keeping  your team motivated, however be careful not to fall into the trap of stereotyping your team players. Boxing them into set characteristics and personality styles can stunt their growth and development.

Many years ago I worked with a chap who was brilliant at coming up with unique ideas. He had the ability to dream big, motivate the team to buy into his unique concepts and get everyone charged up to turn the dream into a reality. His talents according to himself ended there.

Here’s the thing, he kept getting told and labelled by his managers that he was strong at creative ideas and big vision , but rubbish at working out the final details and follow through. He wasn’t taken to seriously in the planning phase as everyone was told where his talents lay. He then started to exclude himself from the planning sessions and follow-through phases.  He started believing he was given the green light to be rubbish at certain skills. “My boss tells me I’m poor at planning, so therefore I am poor at planning”. He stopped trying, he stopped stretching himself.  This mindset then started filtering into other areas of his life. “People tell me I’m rubbish at being a good communicator and sympathetic to my peers needs, therefore I am no good at those touchy-feely skills.” 

Constant repetition of the same action, self-talk or feedback will result in permanent results. Eventually you are totally convinced and accept that your weaknesses will and can never be changed or there is some else who can perform the skill for you. In some instances, yes we can ask a colleague to assist, as they are brilliant at said skill, but unfortunately for other skills, especially the soft skills, we are on our own. If you think that you should only play to your strengths and ignore your weaknesses then you have lost.

Our weaknesses are generally skills we don’t like to perform. We often find no pleasure in doing them and quite frankly would rather do without. That I understand and appreciate, however by telling yourself that you don’t need to work on them is foolish and limiting.

Ask yourself, “If you never tried to improve yourself and work on your weak areas, what would your life be like?”

Then ask yourself, “If you changed the way you thought and you started to work on your weaknesses. What would your life be like?”

By just trying, you never know you may find a new strength buried amongst the weaknesses.

Acknowledge your weaknesses, but don’t let them hold you prisoner. Take control.

Need assistance? Contact Nicole to book a  professional coaching session. nicole@tikumu.co.nz

01 Mar

Work with what you have, not with what you think you have

Here’s a thought for you. Instead of just looking at how to improve your team’s weaknesses and fine tuning best practice on how they can overcome challenges, think about how to leverage their strengths.

Constantly looking for weaknesses within the business and within your team is a common mindset of many managers. Rightfully so, in order to achieve the business objectives there needs to be constant evaluation, improvement and streamlining. So, over time the default thinking pattern is continuously shifting to “Where are the weaknesses, shortfalls and gaps?” and “How can these be avoided and improved apon?” The danger of adopting this type of pessimistic mindset is that you start seeing your business and team as “glass half empty” .

Don’t get me wrong this mindset has its place, but it shouldn’t be the only way to analyse  your business and team. Take the blinkers off and stop thinking of just the weaknesses. Start identifying the strengths you already have within your business and amongst your team.

This is an interesting exercise to complete.  Without wearing the critic’s hat, are you able to identify your businesses and your team’s strengths?

Once you’ve completed this exercise. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are your team members aware of their own strengths? Are they able to quickly identify what characteristics or abilities makes them an asset within the business?
  2. Besides their own strengths are they aware of each others strengths or is their a continuous focus on the weaknesses?

With the business and team strengths in mind, the next step is to figure out how to develop and grow them. This is a great coaching conversation.

Work with what you have, your strengths. Don’t just work with what you think you have, your weaknesses.