Ever felt like a fraud?

Like sooner or later you’ll be found out…

I certainly have and spent time using various resources to get beyond that limited thinking. Sometimes it’s coupled with a feeling of not belonging, which I wrote about here.

Lately I’ve noticed many posts and articles about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as though it’s suddenly the latest ailment to hit the therapist’s chair. It’s not uncommon to feel this when we get a promotion, or when we step up to something new outside of our comfort zone.

My own latest experience of it has been in bringing my coaching work to a wider audience. I started on this path in 2016 and, to say it’s been a slow process, is a huge understatement. The voice in my head would say things like “who’s going to be interested in anything you have to say” and “who are you to think you can do this work, especially when there are so many far more talented coaches out there.”

I can trace recent chapters of this story back to my first corporate job, when I worked for several men who were very tall, very loud, and who led from a “divide and conquer” mentality. If you were a woman who spoke up for herself you became a target to be “put back in her place.” They were successful businessmen and horrible managers: I’m grateful to them for showing me how NOT to behave in the workplace.

When that company was bought I spent my final few months ‘in charge’ of our UK closure, because the guy who was supposed to do the job was removed from his post and I was asked to step up.

Seven  years later I found myself in a similar position, when our European Managing Director was removed from his post and I was again asked to step up until a replacement could be recruited. The new hire never happened and I ended up in charge for three years, until this business was also bought out and I had to transition all staff and operations into the acquiring company.

For a long time I felt as though I’d only got those promotions by default, it was simply that I was the only person in the right place at the right time, which was obviously true. (That’s another part of the story we tell ourselves – our inner critic just KNOWS we’re right in our thinking because the facts are plain to see).

It was only during the last year that I managed to change my thinking – to change the story – but it wasn’t only the thinking, I finally changed how I was feeling about this story.

Yes, I was in the right place at the right time. Yes, there was an element of default involved.

BUT the senior people giving me those responsibilities would never have asked me if they thought I wasn’t up to the job.

AND our team delivered record sales results for the company during my tenure as EUMD.

In fact, the senior guy in the second company went on to bring me with him into two other companies as a key staff member. He has also been my client, hiring me for multiple business consultancy projects over the years (I still do a bit of work with him now, as he’s become a dear friend). The skills and experience I acquired over many years in the business world have proven to be valued time and again.

Why, then, has it been so hard to “put myself out there” as a coach?

Well, I still had to do the work to get beyond my story, as I mentioned above. It’s also been about fear – that inner critic again – fear of being judged, of failing, of succeeding, of not knowing enough, or being enough. Easy to operate when you’re doing stuff you’ve been learning for decades and become increasingly good at. Not so easy when it’s YOU that you’re selling.

Then I began to realise on that same journey I’d also been coaching and mentoring others in their successes, whether it was staff, business partners or customers. Sure I gained skills, yet I also needed flexible languaging, psychology, intuition, nurturing, relationship building, compassion – all the soft skills we often take for granted and underestimate.

Finally I knew I had something valuable to share with other women and, perhaps more importantly, it was okay if it wasn’t for everybody: the “right” clients would find me and the “wrong” clients would walk away.

Most of the people I’ve invested in for my own growth have been from the USA and they all now seem to follow the same marketing strategy: multiple “push” emails and having to scroll for ages down endless convincer text before I get to their offer. My time is valuable to me and if it’s one of my go-to trainers I already know their strengths, so I just want to know if I have the price available to buy in now, or not.

I was born in 1950’s England and my way of being is rather more introverted, so I wanted to focus on serving other UK women in a way that is (perhaps) understated, yet sits authentically with me. If that resonates with you, let’s have a chat.