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  • Sorcha O'Connor

Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the kerb




If I had a pound/euro/dollar for every client I work with who suffers from imposter syndrome, I'd have pockets overflowing with pounds/euros/dollars.

You are the sneakiest of sneaky things. You steal our peace and confidence. You drain us and make us feel 'less than'. You make us play small and block us from breaking out and making the big moves that we are actually more than capable of thank you very much.

If impostor syndrome is a new term for you, it is unlikely to be a new feeling. Impostor syndrome is that feeling that you're about to be found out. Found out as being a fraud, as not being good enough to have landed that job or promotion or project. To have been invited to deliver that speech or even do out on that date with the total hottie from the gym.

With our increasing success comes greater impostor syndrome...

'Surely there is someone else better at this than me? Argh, they're going to find out I haven't got the foggiest about what I'm doing here! It's all going to fall apart'.

I have the pleasure of coaching some truly amazing humans and - almost to a person - I can see their brilliance easier than they can see it themselves. They share their successes with me with a sense of bewilderment and regularly attribute that very success to luck, right place right time, they were desperate for someone so I was an easy choice etc, etc.

How can we become more aware of that voice of self doubt without actually believing the story it is telling us?

#1 Listen with curiosity

When you start to realise that those around you have greater belief in you than you have in yourself, sit up and pay attention. You've given them evidence that you can do this. You've demonstrated that it is entirely probable in fact. It is now time to realise that the niggle (and sometimes full blown fear) is just your brain trying to get you to play small and stay safe. Listen with curiosity but don't believe what your brain is telling you. Take a breath and challenge with compassion...

#2 Challenge with compassion

Now is the time to see yourself from the perspective of others and check your evidence. What evidence can you point to from your experience that proves that you've got this, that you know what to do, that with a calm approach you'll get the job done. If you could just quieten down the volume of the self-doubt that is. The key here is to be compassionate. Often when I'm working with clients unpicking these beliefs they flip from 'There is no way I can do this, I'm going to be found out' to a harsh voice saying 'of course you can do this, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get it done for Pete's sake'. What you're reaching for is the compassionate voice here. The voice that says.. 'Ok, here is that impostor syndrome again. Interesting, I must have an opportunity here to grow. I've done great things before and I'm off to do again' What if I could do it'?

#3 Rebuild with 'what if'

What if you knew that most other people in the room with you are also prone to or actively suffering from Impostor Syndrome... would that make you feel differently or act differently?

What if you knew that you have access to all the resources that you need to do the thing?

What if you're exactly where you need to be?

Why is it that we believe that everyone else has everything under control and we are the only ones who feel this way? Hint: They don't and you're not.

So please head into 2021 knowing that your brain is just tying to keep you safe and stable. It is trying its best to help you avoid stress and risk. Compassionately challenge the voice and walk forward with what if.


Let me know how things unfold.


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