It is June. Exam time for many. Hay fever for some. We have had the first hot days and people have broken out their summer clothes. Here in Bedford we have just had the kite festival and our first ever festival of motoring. A customised Ford Focus (said to be worth £25000) ended up in the river because someone let the handbrake off to move it! Happy Days!
I have been thinking about Imposter Syndrome. I am always thinking about Imposter Syndrome because it is so prevalent. Last night I saw Rocket Man with a younger friend who was not conscious of Elton John’s story. She ended up in tears; she could not believe how close a megastar came to killing himself through the addictions he developed to deal with his insecurity. So the syndrome is everywhere however outwardly successful someone looks. It is particularly prevalent amongst business people.
Imposter Syndrome is when we listen to that little voice inside us that insists that we are here by mistake. We are not thin enough, not good looking enough, not fit enough, not clever enough, not qualified enough, not experienced enough to be doing whatever we are doing. In the working environment we think we have been given a job we cannot do, and we will only keep it until we are found out. We should not be here.
It is principally a confidence issue. We do not believe in ourselves and so do not feel the world should believe in us either. Every little word about us is taken as proof we are right.
What we ignore is that we all feel it. This is especially true when we are first in a new organisation or take on a new role. The euphoria of the new opportunity is soon smashed by the inner voice telling us we are not worthy; they appointed us because they are deluded, and we cannot hack it.
Now this is usually absolute nonsense. We do not have any evidence to back it up. We feel this or that, but we do not know it. The person who invited us to join their business or the one who gave us a new role sees something in us that meets their needs. Often they are thrilled to have us and consider themselves fortunate. In fact there is a lesser known phenomenon – the Messiah Effect. The belief is that this brilliant new person walks on water and will solve all the woes of the business. Expectations run high.
Of course, then the person who thinks they are an imposter realises they are expected to be the messiah and they become even more scared; no one can meet these expectations. The whole situation spirals and much sadness can ensue.
Let’s stop this right now. We need to get back to reality. You may not be good at everything. Undoubtedly there are others better than you at most things, but you are the person on the spot, the person who has decided to take on a role and the person who has been trusted to do it. If you have started your own business it is because you have passion, you have seen an opportunity and you have the energy and the desire to make things happen.
Experience, training and recognition will make you better every day at what you do.
Be brave and run with it. Remember the four stages of skill development:
Unconscious incompetence – you are hopeless and do not realise how hopeless. Remember the first time that you stepped into a car and all you could do was stall the engine?
Conscious incompetence – then you realised that you had to work on clutch control. You concentrated hard specially on hills and you knew when you might make a mistake.
Conscious competence – then you realised you could get through a lesson without stalling, without running backwards on hills, without steering into other people or only doing 15 miles an hour. The skill was developing.
Unconscious competence – you passed your driving test (so someone decided you were competent) and now you handle the car without thinking about the driving skills, you only have to worry about other people on the road.
You have worked through the stages and learnt. And everything in life is like that: we need to learn a skill and practice it. We do not pop into the world fully formed. Those around us do not expect us to be the finished product.
My point is that everyone suffers from Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives. If you have it you are not unusual. The person you loath who spends all their time talking at you about their perfect life, wonderful partner, super achiever children and mind boggling work successes is probably over compensating for the syndrome.
Last week there was a post on LinkedIn in which Stacey Dooley chairs a panel of women speaking about it. Take a look: https://www.rbs.com/rbs/news/2019/05/60–of-women-put-off-starting-a-business-due-to-imposter-syndrom.html
NatWest considers imposter syndrome prevents many entrepreneurs starting out. Their #OwnYourImposter campaign aims to support entrepreneurs by building their confidence.
There is another good initiative out there: https://www.itv.com/hub/tresemme-poweryourpresence/2a6896a0001
Take a look at it and work your way through it – you have nothing to lose.
I wish both these initiatives well.
Working with a mentor is a successful way to overcome the syndrome. At the moment I am offering free 30 minute taster sessions so you could try this. If you want to book one just give me a call on 07968 822275.
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Life is good; let’s live it to the full, enjoy it and be the best we can be.