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April 22, 2019

In the third and final installment in the 'self doubt' blogging series, I'd like to welcome back PJ Sangalang, BA, MA (Psychology) to talk about the Imposter Syndrome. Thank you SO much PJ for the interesting and insightful post!

The Little Voice grows up into the Impostor Syndrome

As Erin-Brie expertly described the last two posts, even a squeak of self-doubt can mushroom into a louder, more crippling voice, echoing throughout one’s psyche, infecting confidence and skills. “What am I doing here? How did I even get to this esteemed position without someone finding out that I’m not the best at what I do? I feel like such a phony.”

And with that angle, I’d like to extend this conversation to introducing the Imposter Syndrome, a cognitive bias in which someone feels as though they do not deserve their successes, believing their accomplishments are not due to their skills and ability, and believing that they are, in effect, frauds. Subsequently, this mindset leads one to think that all that they have achieved to get to this point—and anything they will accomplish from this point forward—is undeserved. A quote by decorated actress Kate Winslett summarizes this elegantly: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”

It really does feel like an extension, if not altogether a “grown-up” version, of that voice of self-doubt, does it not? It is important to remain confident in one’s internal abilities, believing in the hard work, sacrifice and natural ability that have led you to where you are. As Erin-Brie has noted previously, it is about turning negative, destructive thoughts into positive, constructive ones. Specifically in this case, explaining your successes as being due to you, not something else.

My job entails training and teaching new hires in the company, and in our busier seasons, I have a month to turn bright-eyed, motivated new hires into bright-eyed, motivated independent employees. As you may guess, the first day with the new group is the most nerve-racking, and that abstract self-doubt transforms into phrases such as “What if I mess up? What if I miss something? What if they don’t understand what I’m talking about? What am I even doing here?” Uh-oh.

To solve that, I like to catch myself even before that self-doubt has a chance to talk, and use it as motivation. “You’re not going to mess up and you’re not going to miss anything because you’re prepared. They’ll know what you’re talking about because you’ve dealt with dozens of groups and countless individuals and you’ve dealt with it all. And if you miss something or mess up? You know how to fix it. You’re here and you’ve been here this long because you’ve developed your style to suit different individuals and their own learning styles, with success. You’re no imposter.” To that effect, I don’t even give my doubts a chance to speak, explaining how I have done my best to overcome my obstacles, and in effect motivating myself even further to do a good job by reminding myself that I’ve done so before.

Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, it would be far more constructive to focus on how your abilities got you where you are—and will take you to where you want to go. Think of the things that you have done to get you to your successes. Don’t let that tiny voice of self-doubt grow further. Before it has a chance to speak, tell yourself and the world that “I deserve all this because of me, and of that, I have no doubt!”

Moving you forward, WLS

April 15, 2019

Why do we have this self doubt? What fuels it?? Perhaps we hear words/statements from long ago playing in our heads; memories from the past that still speak to us in the present. Maybe we were told in childhood or early adulthood that we weren't good enough or that we didn't have the capability to do something. Often we internalize other people's opinions of us, or even worse, the opinions that we perceive they have of us.

Perhaps we feel it is better to be a self-doubter than to appear overly secure. Do you think there is a fine line between confidence and conceit? A fear of appearing conceited or asserting our abilities only to risk failure, creates a vicious cycle of insecurity. We need to feel that it is ok to be proud of our accomplishments and successes. In knowing that we're taking responsibility for creating the life we desire, and in knowing that we are the ones taking action, we can acknowledge that opportunities and successes aren't happening to us merely because we are lucky, but that our skill, hard work and dedication is the driving force. Of course, we are assisted by others in our supportive network, or (depending upon  your beliefs) perhaps spiritually. But it is crucial that we value our own contribution and congratulate and reward ourselves for a job well done.

So, if a little voice in your head is saying "stop, you can't do this!" it's up to you to change your thoughts from negative to positive before the negativity spirals out of control and overwhelms you. Instead, tell yourself something along these lines, "I have the abilities and/or experience to do this. It's ok to make a mistake, everyone does. I've got this."

Think back to positive comments that have been given to you that reinforce the intelligent, capable, fabulous person that you are. Think of some tangible examples of your successes, ability to defeat challenges and to overcome obstacles. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in and support you, not who put you down or diminish your light.

Take ownership and be proud of who you are....and let your light shine.

Moving you forward, WLS

April 8, 2019

Do you sometimes feel like you don't belong? As though you're 'faking' your way through your career successes, or that you're just having a lucky streak that will end at some point? Think about it....do you own your successes or do you have feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-confidence?

Truthfully, many successful people feel inadequate. Their feelings of self-doubt are overwhelming and can be all-consuming, but on the outside they look secure and confident. I recall being in court with a senior Crown Attorney while I was articling. When I got up to face the judge, I felt my legs turn to jello. Of course, the words came and all went well. Afterwards, I explained to my colleague how I felt and he made the analogy to a duck - it appears to be gliding across the water effortlessly, while in fact it is paddling like mad underneath!

What was really important in that situation was my internal dialogue. What was I saying to myself to get through? And what did I say to myself afterwards to have the courage to do it over again? I honestly can't recall, but I want to stress how important it is to have positive self-talk. We are our own worst critics and what may appear disastrous in our minds, often goes unnoticed by an outsider! We are often the ones who stop ourselves from progress, from taking new opportunities and challenges. Why? Because we give too much "air time" to the little (or big!) voice of self doubt in our heads.

Self-doubt can negatively affect us in all areas of life. For example, professionally we can limit our opportunities for advancement and socially, we can withdraw and become less engaging with others.

We are not only fearful of failure but can also be fearful of success. We wonder, will a new opportunity be accompanied with difficult challenges? And, can we really do what we are setting out to or will we disappoint ourselves and others?

For the next 2 weeks, we'll further develop this topic. There will be an interesting guest blog post on the "Imposter Sydrome" as well. Stay tuned! See you next week!

Moving you forward, WLS

March 25, 2019

Last week's post raised the idea of focusing on your strengths. Is this an unsettling idea? It may be. As a young child in school, we were taught a number of subjects and required to demonstrate proficiency in all to pass and achieve good grades. Our parents and teachers told us to spend extra time working on those areas in which we were not strong.
There was tremendous value in that - it taught us persistence, dedication and patience.

However, in our adult lives today, to get us from good to great, playing to our strengths will help us to be more successful, helpful to others - including our colleagues, confident, rewarded and motivated. It's something to consider.

A few questions to ask yourself when considering your strengths (paraphrased from Marcus Buckingham's Put Your Strengths to Work):

-What are my positive qualities? What do others say positively about me?

-What do I do that when completed, I look forward to doing again?

-What do I want to know more about so I can become more proficient?

-What activities make me feel energized, fulfilled, accomplished and strong?

Quoting (Psychologist/Author) Cheryl Saban, "When you take the time to engage in activities that absorb your full attention, you'll experience a sense of well-being and contentment. Use your natural gifts and talents. Find ways to enhance your quality of life with them."

Moving you forward, WLS

March 18, 2019

Where do you focus your time and energy? Try spending the majority of your time building upon your strengths and talents and expanding your current knowledge. What are your natural abilities? Do you spend adequate time and focus on these?

This does not mean that you must avoid what you do not like, as life is full of mandatory tasks that we do not enjoy! It also does not say that you must stick to a few activities and never expand your knowledge elsewhere. In a work environment, that is often required and expected.

It's saying that if you focus on the things that fuel you up instead of depleting you and your energy resources, you will feel renewed as opposed to constantly drained. Consider what gives you the greatest pleasure, sense of fulfillment and excitement.

A quote from Andy Stanley says that, " if you really want to make a lasting impact, then you need to eliminate what you do well for the sake of what you potentially do best." My best guess of what he is trying to say is that to maximize your potential, spend the majority of your time focusing on your strengths/talents/abilities.

We spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to overcome our weaknesses and not enough time growing our strengths. For a good read and hands on exercises that focus on identifying and playing to your strengths, I suggest Marcus Buckingham's Put Your Strengths to Work.

As a broad overview, Buckingham looks at identifying your own strengths and weaknesses and discusses how to put your strengths into practice while navigating away from the activities that weaken you. He discusses how this can be applied in your professional life at work.

In next week's blog post, we'll continue the topic of focusing on your strengths. How do you feel about this? Does it feel wrong to navigate towards the things we enjoy and are good at, or do you feel like it makes perfect sense to do so?

Until next week.

Moving you forward, WLS

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