I recently posted an article about impostor syndrome on LinkedIn and it was extremely well received from both women and men. It is something we all struggle with in various forms and during my career in Learning and Development, whether I am working as a consultant, delivering training or coaching, I encourage others to have confidence and believe in themselves.
Here are some of my key methods for overcoming impostor syndrome and ultimately fulfilling your ambitions and achieving your goals!
- Keep learning and hone your skills.
I love face to face contact, this means a lot of my work involves either coaching or mentoring others, delivering training, facilitation and consultancy work. But there are other ways to do this not just face to face. I recently took part in a podcast with Louise Duncan from TetraMap international. Prior to this happening I did have a few moments of feeling slightly anxious. Will I speak too quickly? Will I be interesting enough? I have a wicked laugh, should I control my laughter, so I sound more serious/professional? In the end I decided to prepare and then just enjoy the experience. Louise was a lovely host and made me feel extremely comfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had some great feedback! I am now planning on doing some podcasts of my own. Something else I have avoided in the past are webinars, I was convinced that somehow without the face to face element this type of learning intervention would not be as effective. I have now delivered 5 webinars on the CIPD Essential skills for trainers’ course, and I am finding it an enjoyable experience. There have been issues with IT sometimes, and other technical issues, however, as my confidence has grown it is now something that I look forward to!
So, when you feel like you can’t do something, or you are not capable, push yourself, give it a try. You may find you have a hidden skill or ability that so far has remained undiscovered.
- They say travel broadens the mind, and I could not agree more!
The ability to demonstrate that you are a well-travelled, knowledgeable person, who has an international outlook and can bring new and creative ideas to the table will increase your self-confidence. Every year I try to visit a different part of the world, not just for work but also for pleasure. In 2017 I attended a conference in Las Vegas called Go Pro, there I was able to see Anthony Robbins in action and listen to hints and tips from the great entrepreneur Richard Branson. Whilst there I visited the Grand Canyon by helicopter and walked along the Grand Canyon Skywalk, this is a glass platform which extends 70 feet over the edge of the Grand Canyon, believe you me, it is not for the fainthearted or someone like me who is not comfortable with heights. But I believe in getting out of my comfort zone, so I did it! It is a life affirming experience. One of the quotes that I took away which still stays with me is by Anthony Robbins, he said “Where focus goes, energy flows”! I came back and made some changes in my personal and professional life, making sure that I was spending my time and energy on my goals. This year, I went to the 25th anniversary of the Essence festival in New Orleans. The line up at the festival was mind boggling from Ava Delaney who directed ‘when they see us’ to Iyana Vanzant, Tyler Perry, Mary j Blige and the wonderful Michelle Obama to name a few! I fully immersed myself in the learning, listening to each person’s story, lessons learned, and advice shared.
No one but you understand the challenges you have had to face to achieve success. It is important that others benefit from your experience, share your story with others, the highs and the lows, so that other people understand that they are not alone in their struggles. Each entrepreneur shared a situation where they had to overcome adversity to achieve their goal, it was extremely motivational! leaving you with the feeling that if they could do it, so could you!
I came away with so much, one of the sayings that remains with me is by Iyana Vanzant she said, “People see your glory, but they don’t know your story”.
- Help others, either through networking recommendation or coaching and mentoring.
If I meet someone who I feel would benefit from one of my connections, I do not hesitate in putting them in touch with each other. Michelle Obama in her book ‘Becoming Michelle’ says “For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say finally; lets invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect it’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There is power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This for me, is how we become”.
This resonates with me because over the years by giving my time to others and helping them to achieve their goals I have grown and developed myself.
- When I feel self-doubt creeping in one way to overcome this is to remember past successes!
We have all done things that we are proud of, achieved goals, been recognised in some way. I keep my pictures on my office wall, so that I can have a visual reminder of what I have achieved. On my wall is: A) memorabilia from the commonwealth games in Manchester, we won the contract to deliver training to the volunteers and were filmed by the BBC whilst delivering the training. B) a picture of me with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development committee, I was branch chair for 2 years. C) A picture of Insider magazine, I was voted one of 100, most influential women In the North West by insider magazine for 3 years running. D) A picture of me in the business section of the Manchester Evening News, I won an international contract to train managers globally which meant, delivering training in 25 countries. E) a picture of me with Prince Charles, I was awarded the MBE in the queen’s birthday’s honours list for my contribution to business and export.
When you feel you are not capable, or not good enough have visual reminder to bring back those wonderful positive feelings. This will boost your confidence.
- Finally, there is nothing like positive feedback to help overcome impostor syndrome.
When I opened my consultancy in 1998 and received my first piece of consultancy work, after the project was completed, I asked the client if they were happy with my work and when I received an affirmative response, I requested that feedback in writing. In the current climate we have Linked In where clients can write recommendations and testimonials. There is no better way to overcome Impostor Syndrome than a positive client testimonial, you can say how good you are at your job, but others saying it makes you feel fabulous! So, when your clients says, thank you for a piece of work, ask them to put it on LinkedIn or send you an email with a quote which you can add to your website and on social media.
No matter how bad a day you are having, someone saying that you exceeded expectations and they would recommend you will make you feel worthwhile and build your self-esteem.