The unusual, 3-step process to kick out Imposter Syndrome once and for all

Imposter Syndrome: you refuse to accept that your success is deserved, or that it’s been legitimately achieved due to your effort or skills. You doubt that you belong with the company you now keep because really, you’re an inadequate fraud and the people around you probably have their suspicions. What if they find out? What if you’re exposed as the fraud you know you are?

Does this sound familiar?

When you think about it, Imposter Syndrome is a ludicrous fear and lie with no rational basis but yet, it’s incredibly common, affecting people from all walks of life, including intelligent and measured people. For some, it strikes them following a promotion or an experience of success and for others, it simply lingers in the background regardless of how their lives unfold.

But whatever the reason, Imposter Syndrome leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety and it prevents people from putting themselves forward for things, which they’re perfectly capable of delivering, thus holding them back professionally and undermining their potential.

Most lifestyle gurus will advise you to affirm yourself by reminding yourself of your strengths, to focus on gratitude, to tackle your negative self-talk and all the other familiar things you’ve read a hundred times before, but when I coach leaders suffering from Imposter Syndrome, I take them through a butt-kicking, 3-step process which works a treat.

  1. EMBRACE IT

Don’t fight it, don’t try to conquer it or squash it, just embrace it and give it a big hug because if you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome, it means you’re a good person. It clearly matters to you that you live with integrity and you make progress because of your skills and contribution. So give yourself a pat on the back. Imposter Syndrome just proves you are a good, honest person and this world needs more good, honest people like you.

2. LAUGH AT IT

Choose to see the funny side because Imposter Syndrome is ridiculous. To be an imposter, you need to pretend to be someone else, in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain (according to the Oxford dictionary). So as long as you’re not pretending to be someone else, (taking on their character, facial features, accent, mannerisms and signature) for deceitful reasons, then you can’t actually be an impostor, so worrying about something you can’t be, is a bit silly and it’s always helpful to laugh at silly things.

3. DISEMPOWER IT

A) Remember that most people suffer from Imposter Syndrome, particularly in new situations, following change and following success, so it’s not big deal if you’re suffering from it.

B) Long term, no one really cares about your achievements, which university you went to, or whether you made it to the top of Mount Everest without using an oxygen tank. What people do care about is whether you are humble, kind and have good manners. If so, you’ll be liked and admired and if not, it doesn’t matter if you nailed Mount Everest, you will NOT be popular. So if no one really cares about your achievements and most people are too busy to think too much about them, then Impostor Syndrome is the weakest, most irrelevant bully who ever existed, so do what you would do with most bullies (particularly the weak ones), stand up to them, face them and kick them in the butt.

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Why Arnold Schwarzenneger's advice about success is flawed and what to do instead

“Forget plan B. To test yourself and grow, you have to operate without a safety net.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Who can argue with Arnie?

His success, those biceps, the cigars the size of cricket bats, which he effortlessly smoked: it would take a brave (or foolish) man to argue with him, but let’s think about his statement, FORGET PLAN B.

In 2010, 33 chilean miners became trapped nearly a mile underground when part of the mine they were working in collapsed. The story created headlines around the world, particularly when news emerged that they were alive, one mile underground and a rescue attempt was put into action.

When the miners were rescued in a stunning feat of engineering several months later, three holes had been dug known as Plan A, B, C, because the experts knew that the chances of a successful rescue were remote and that naturally, some of the holes would veer off target as the drilling intensified to deeper levels. Thankfully, one of the holes was successful, it was plan B!

FORGET PLAN B?

REALLY?

IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE?

  1. Arnie’s point is to fully commit to your goals if you want to achieve them and that without a high level of commitment, your ability to hang in there when times are tough, will be compromised and you’ll be less likely to achieve your goals (fair point).

  2. Any advice, inspirational statement with an ‘always’, ‘never’ or ‘you must’ sentiment is destined to let you down from time to time because life is complicated. With motivational quotes and ‘rules for success’ from experts and billionaires, test them, question them and pick them apart. A course of action which worked well for one person in one situation may well be disastrous for another person in entirely different circumstances.

  3. Some people actually find it easier to focus fully on plan A, when there is a plan B and plan C in the background. Having a plan B and C doesn’t make them focus any less on plan A, it simply gives them more confidence to move forward, in the knowledge that their overall planning has been thorough and well executed.

To sum up, my advice for success (not that I have Arnie’s biceps, money, fame or cigars) is:

Plan thoroughly and live boldly. Make the most of your time to achieve your most important dreams because time is a precious gift. Time is given to people in unequal amounts, we never know how much we’ll get, and we never know when it will run out.


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My Latest Blog Post: 1 baptist mission trip, 1 brothel, 1 coca cola and 1 great life lesson

I never intended to end up in a brothel. It wasn’t a key goal when preparing for my baptist missionary trip, but life has a habit of putting you in random places when you least expect it.

As soon as I walked in, hot, sticky and tired, I sensed all was not well. The waitresses looked friendly (surely to be expected in the hospitality industry), their skirt length was less than demure (it’s a hot country to be fair) but it just didn’t have the usual vibe of the cafes I’d frequented during my time in El Salvador. The waitresses seemed surprised by my presence and then … something strange happened.

The (all male) cliental were ushered away and out of the cafe, something which caused a storm of protest and which left just me in the ‘cafe’ as the sole customer. The ‘waitresses’ then gathered around me as I sat there drinking my coke. They kept asking me if there was anything else I might like and I kept assuring them:

no thanks, I’m fine

really, it’s very kind of you but the coke is lovely: cold and fizzy as it should be and I’m happy with it

One long, awkward silence and a few exasperated faces later … reality dawned!

THIS WAS NO ORDINARY CAFE!

  • The excessively short skirts.

  • The graphic pictures on the walls.

  • The name of the ‘cafe’ (la casa de amistad / house of ‘friendship’)

  • The clearing out of their customers.

This was a brothel where the ‘waitresses’ were selling more than just drinks and they were banking on me being their cash cow for the day but:

1) I was penniless, on a baptist mission trip and soon to take part in a bible study.

2) I carried very little cash (about 5 quid) enough to give a potential mugger and/or get myself a drink if necessary.

3) I wasn’t in the market for sex.

They got rid of their customers so they could focus all their efforts and attention on one potential customer, someone whose profile fitted their dream client and someone who they could confidently make some assumptions about.

One young, white, male gringo who has knowingly entered a brothel = one hormonal desperado with loadsa plata!

It’s an obvious equation, right?

But this young, white gringo had not knowingly entered a brothel, nor did he have loadsa plata. He was in fact, Mr Penniless-Pocket, blended with Mr Scrounger Scrooge. As for hormones, well, I was 18 years old, but far too innocent to head to a brothel for my kicks (and of course, at 44, I still am).

We all make assumptions about things and people we know very little about, hedging our bets too quickly, without doing our due diligence. I refer to it as Daily Mail thinking. The need for general, sweeping beliefs, so we can quickly make sense of our world and feel like we understand it, whilst avoiding the effort of research and testing whether or not our beliefs are well founded.

And we all go through life, experiencing relationships and situations where we fear asking direct questions, just in case we get answers we don’t like. So the impulsive assumptions stick and they become our ‘well-researched’ truths, leaving us ignorant and narrow-minded.

Learning is critical for success, even if what we learn is painful and not what we would have ideally wanted to hear. As for assumptions, if you’re interested in; performing at the highest levels, mastering your time like a pro and being a high achiever, you must consistently question your assumptions.

ASK DIRECT QUESTIONS + MAKE LESS ASSUMPTIONS = TIME EFFICIENCY + BETTER RESULTS … now that’s an equation that makes perfect sense!


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My latest blog post: Why procrastination is simple AND complicated and how to defeat it once and for all

1 wardrobe, 1 abusive wife and 1 horrible dilemma:

I was terrified of my bullying ex-wife and one of her most annoying habits was deliberately putting me in lose/lose situations. But I had an annoying habit of my own when faced with lose/lose situations: PROCRASTINATION!

For example, in our charming, french town-house, there was an alcove at the top of the stairs and she wanted me to build a wardrobe to use the space. You’re probably thinking that sounds like a good idea and what a great use of space, so where’s the harm in that? But there was one tiny problem: I absolutely suck at woodwork and thus I had 2 unenviable options:

A) Agree to do the work, make an utter hash of it and wait in dread for the explosion to occur: the screaming, the shouting, threats and occasional violence, it made me utterly miserable and emasculated me.

B) Suggest we delegate the job to a carpenter, in which case, she would have put on her disappointed face, before reminding me of my male friends on a pedestal, you know, the heroic ones who buy their wives a different gift every day, who do 50% of the household chores and childcare whilst earning a 6-figure salary and who never forget anyone’s birthday, or anniversary.

These were real men of course, the sort of blokes who take themselves out of their comfort zones to improve themselves (SUCH a shame that I lacked the courage to do so) … and then, following these helpful comparisons, an epic explosion would occur with all the usual ingredients (shouting, threats, violence).

Faced with these two wonderful options, I did what I did best. I agreed to do the job but had no real intention of actually starting it, then I got bogged down in ‘planning’. After 4 weeks, when all that had appeared were some random strips of wood to be cut and some rough drawings on the wall, all hell broke lose, so she exploded anyway. Procrastination rarely serves us well!

FEAR: It’s a common cause of procrastination, stopping us in our tracks and preventing us from taking action and moving forward, but fear is not the only cause of procrastination, it’s one of MANY causes and fear in itself comes in different shapes and sizes:

  • Fear of doing the tasks (it’s beyond our skill-set and out of our comfort zones)

  • Fear of the taskmaster (he/she terrifies us and the thought of getting stuck or messing up the job sends shivers down our spine)

  • Fear of failure (we hate the feeling of failure, it brings back too many memories and we tell ourselves that we can’t deal with it)

So if you want to overcome procrastination (so you become more productive and achieve more things) then understand that each situation of procrastination in your life is a unique situation and needs to be treated as such, with unique circumstances which have collided to create it and a unique remedy to overcome it.

Do not fall into the trap of oversimplifying procrastination and blaming it all on one thing.

Procrastination is simple in that each individual cause is easy to understand (unlike advanced algebra or nuclear science), but it’s complicated because there are MANY common causes.

If you’re serious about becoming a high-performing mover and shaker, then scrutinise each situation of procrastination in your life:

1) Identify the external and internal issues which have created this situation. (you may find some general trends from one situation to the next … or you may not)

2) Create a unique remedy to overcome each unique situation of procrastination (an effective remedy is likely to be different in each case and will be appropriate to the cause)

3) Deliver your remedy.

As for the wardrobe and my abusive wife, there was only one unique and far reaching remedy in this case and it involved a set of court papers and a new life, but that’s another story!

Stop wasting time? Easier said than done!

Stop wasting time? Easier said than done!

MenSpace: a new Facebook group to support male victims of domestic abuse

I'm really excited to launch MenSpace, a Facebook group/page for male victims of domestic abuse, offering advice support and raising awareness of the issues men face when they're the victims of domestic abuse. As a long term sufferer of domestic abuse in a former life, I know only too well how it destroys confidence and reduces people to a shadow of their former selves.

I'd be honoured if you could like the page and join the debate at: facebook.com/MenSpaceGlobal