Who me? Oh no, I can’t do that.

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not

It’s been nearly a year since I last talked about imposter syndrome. I want to touch on it again today. So, have a think about the following statements:

  •  I can’t do [x] because I’m not qualified or experienced in it
  •  Will someone notice I’m not quite doing [x] ‘right’?
  • Any success I have had has been accidental and/or down to someone else
  • I can’t apply for/start that because I won’t get it/be able to do it

I’d put a bet on 99% of you agreeing with one or more of those statements. I see it all the time, people (mostly women) shrug off their achievements and focus on the (often tiny) things that could be improved. One common example is when I am helping someone with a CV or LinkedIn profile and I ask ” can you give me an example of when you have made a difference?” and I get a blank look in return. Sometimes I get a “we” (as in the team) achieved [x]…but I know that you make a difference…yes, you. You might not believe me though.

It’s not only in professional scenarios either. I am seeing it more and more frequently in my running support groups online too. The number of times people say “I’m not a runner, I just walk/jog/plod/etc.” or “I just did one mile” or “I don’t deserve to win this medal, I didn’t do much training”.

I certainly see it myself, in my own business as I wonder if I am doing it ‘right’.

We need balance

We so often are so focused on the negative we completely miss out on all the amazing things we have done, or we don’t do them at all. I am absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t take time to reflect on where we can improve, of course, that is a good idea. However, there needs to be some balance.

Twenty minutes ago I put down the phone after a peer-peer video coaching call. It was my turn to be coached, using a new(ish) technique called ‘Clean language’. I had no idea what I was going to say but I ended up talking about being forgetful this week. I know, it’s only Monday. This morning I arranged and then rearranged two appointments, forgot one more and missed an important email from last week. I spent an hour or so berating myself and telling myself I was never going to manage this self-employment lark if I couldn’t even schedule my own calendar.

I know that I could ‘do better’ – though it really comes from a feeling of ‘should’ and that the simplest thing is to add things into my calendar when I say things, I mean every thing! What I forget though, is all the things I do get done – so this morning:

  • keeping the kids fed, showered and happy
  • getting the eldest to preschool
  • writing this blog
  • tidying up the kitchen
  • sorting out my P60 for the tax return
  • taking the bins out
  • tidying the playroom
  • making the beds
  • showering
  • making soup
  • checking emails
  • a peer-peer coaching session
  • arranging client appointments for this/next week
  • preparing for my webinar this evening on resilience (to join the private group click here)

All before half two. Yes, the blog is later than I would like, and yes, the kitchen is back to its natural state of ‘homely’ within 5 minutes and yes the majority of things on that list have nothing to do with being self-employed BUT I have achieved them. If I were at work you could replace much of the cleaning with the tidying we do in our jobs – talking to peers, checking emails, planning ahead – the things that oil the cogs.

You are amazing, yes, you.

My point is….when I started up my own business I had an idea of how it might work and on the whole it does work how I envisioned it, with a few tweaks here and there. I am not telling you the tasks I have done this morning to impress you (though if you are, good for you and thank you!) I tell you them to say, don’t forget about ALL the things you do – the small things are as important as the big things. In addition, I do them MY way, there is no right/wrong. In fact, I can’t get it wrong because if it doesn’t work the way I thought, I learn from it.

It would be easy to look down my list and say, “well, anyone can do those” – that’s what my critical voice would say but actually it’s not true. Some people can’t make soup, others might procrastinate too long about getting an appointment booked and many, many people I know wouldn’t do a Facebook live.

You might think you don’t/can’t do anything. You may think you have nothing to give at all, that nothing you do is worth anything to anyone. I am here to say it’s not true. Don’t let a thought get in the way of you achieving something amazing today.

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