The other day I was at dinner with my husband.
We were grabbing Vietnamese food so I could satisfy my craving for some Bun noodles with Hanoi Fish Cakes (SO good!)
The restaurant was busy and we were packed in pretty tight next to a table of 20 something year old colleagues.
It was really hard not to eavesdrop because we were literally sharing a table (yep awkward).
As my husband and I caught up on the week I couldn’t help but smile as we were clearly both subtly listening to our neighbours conversation….
Something I was pretty sure we had ourselves had spoken about back in the day when we were friends/colleagues 10+ years ago.
“I want to speak up more in our team meeting but I get so nervous”
“What are you worried about?”
“Looking like an idiot”
“Ya know Imposter Syndrome is real.”
“It affects, like, all women. Studies have been done on it.”
Moments later my husband and I finished up our fresh lime sodas and made a swift exit from our neighbours table.
We remisced down memory lane when we had conversations about feeling like an idiot and looking stupid.
The truth is, it doesn’t ever stop. We were re-telling stories of how we felt that same way just days before.
When you’re learning and growing, you’re always on that growth edge…you’re always going to be in uncomfortable situations because you feel way out of your league.
Rather than fight it, there’s a way to work through it.
Not in a place where you can watch the video? Read on for the transcript:
One of the common challenges I see women facing in their careers is Imposter Syndrome.
This feeling of “I’m not good enough” and this feeling of being “found out” for being a fraud.
I can very much relate to this on my own journey and I have to admit that this is something that I sometimes struggle with.
When you’re always learning and you’re always growing, you’re always on that growth edge…you’re always going to be in uncomfortable situations.
That feeling of security isn’t always going to be there. And that’s where self doubt creeps in.
So what is Imposter Syndrome?
I believe that our brains haven’t really evolved from prehistoric times. We have a reptilian brain.
We’re simply hardwired for survival.
What does that mean?
That means that we are hardwired to stay safe, to fit into communities and not go out there be bold and risk being rejected.
Whether that’s in the form of:
……putting your hand up in a meeting and expressing your point of view.
…..quitting your job to start a business when you come from a family of lawyers and doctors
The fear of not wanting to go out there comes from that reptilian brain that simply trying to keep you safe.
We have to know what we’re dealing with and there are tips and tricks to work with your brain to be able to have the courage to step out in spite of how you’re naturally naturally hardwired. More on that in future episodes so do stay tuned!
I want to affirm and assure you that EVERYONE feels like an imposter at times.
One of the great things about coaching and the work that I do is that I have the privilege of having a front seat in my clients lives.
I’ve coached women from analysts working their way up the corporate ladder to heads of departments and heads of regions who are about to retire.
What I’ve seen, particularly as I work mainly with women, is that everyone feels like a fraud or an imposter.
You’re not alone in that feeling.
So just know and accept that your reptilian brain is helping you stay safe, conform and not rock the boat.
At the same time if you’re feeling conflicted because you want to go out there and you want to do something else, you have to recognise that you have a conscious choice to work with that part of your brain.
I love the work of Elizabeth Gilbert who talks about fear and doubt and how it can hold us back.
She has this beautiful analogy in her book “Big Magic” which I highly recommend — she’s the author of Eat. Pray. Love. which most of us know!
She talks about fear and how it’s always going to be there.
When it comes to imposter syndrome or feeling like a fraud the goal is not to fight fear but to know that it’s going to be there and how to deal with it.
Imagine you’re on a road trip and you’ve got the radio on and you’re headed to your destination (aka career goals).
This could look like:
- Becoming a director at a certain age.
- Launching a side business
- Quitting your 9-5 to become a freelancer
Whatever it is, chances are you have a path you want to follow.
The fear will be there — I call it the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) for short.
It likes to say things like:
- It’s not safe
- Why would you give up that steady pay cheque
- Why rock the boat
- What if your boss thinks you’re an idiot
- You shouldn’t speak before you’re spoken too
You know those limiting stories that hold us back!
So what’s the trick?
The way to think about that fear and that reptilian brain (which especially likes to spring up when we’re at our growth edge going for those big goals) is to:
Imagine fear sitting in the backseat of the car.
It can be talking at the back and have a chitty chat voice that doesn’t stop.
But it’s never going to be in the driving seat. It’s never going to be able to turn on the radio.
It’s not going to be able to affect you in the driving seat.
So I hope that analogy helps.
I want to remind you that you are enough with what you have right now.
This feeling of being a fraud or imposter is about that we feel like we’re not good enough and that we don’t have enough value to add.
And I see this with the clients that work with. They downplay their strengths, they downplay their gifts as if it’s nothing.
The true fact is that the sheer probability of you being on this earth is 1 in 400 trillion or even less.
The odds of your mum meeting your dad and that sperm meeting that egg is such a rarity and the fact that you’re here on the planet right now is such a gift.
Remember that you’re a miracle. Everyone is a miracle.
As the line in A Course In Miracles Says “All of us are special and none of us are special.”
So treat your life with reverence. This is a gift. Your presence to whatever is going on in your life is your first step to starting to create the life that you want. More on that in next week’s episode – so stay tuned.
So know that that seed of inspiration, desire is there for a reason.
Trust yourself. Trust that you are here for a reason and a purpose.
Only you can can do what you’re here to do.
The fact that you’re born:
- In a certain country
- To certain parents
- With certain skills and interests
No matter good or bad…are a gift.
I would love to hear from you.
- What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to feeling like an imposter?
- What is it holding you back from?
Leave a comment for me below.
I’d love to hear from you.