Listen To Our Podcast Online.
In this episode we bring up three key things that can help you to reduce your imposter syndrome: Mentoring others, career clarity, running your own race.
Mentoring others helps to reinforce your own knowledge and demonstrate to yourself that you have expertise and value. Mentoring does not need to be done in a formal role, where you have a job title or expectations to lead others. You can mentor no matter the environment or your position. Cadeem shares his experiences mentoring others as a freelancer and a teaching assistant.
Sometimes when we feel like we are not successful, it is because we are still trying to figure out a career that suits us. We can spend years bouncing around from one job, or one industry to another. Each move can kill our confidence. Once we pinpoint what we want to be doing, we have a more straightforward pathway to success.
Lastly, run your own race. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Work on yourself consistently.
Please go to UpSkillCommunity.com to review show notes and join a community of leaders investing in better understanding themselves so they can address the imposter syndrome in their work and lives.
What would you do differently if you didn’t have imposter syndrome? And what strategy would you use to help you work on it? That and more in this episode, as we continue our conversation.
Welcome to UpSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. I’m your host, Michel Shah lead UpSkiller at UpSkill Community. UpSkill Talks is a podcast for leaders, leaders who are actively seeking innovative and creative ways to interact lead themselves and others. In every episode, through real life stories and enlightening conversations, we will explore the challenge. And opportunities real leaders face in today’s everchanging workplace. We will present you with real strategies for you to leverage your soft skills and produce transformative results. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Let us begin.
Peter, will you comment on the role of lack of clarity when it comes to fostering the imposture syndrome?
When you speak to the coining of this concept in the context, of women entering the executive space, I’m sure part of what many women with a big experience going there is, I don’t know what I don’t know. And therefore I make up the story that this is what’s expected of me. The silence is dictated by this ill-defined expectation And so when I, when I step to the mic , I speak my truth. But I’m measuring that truth against this fallacy that I have created as to what this expectation is. And there is no dialogue because that, to me, is one of the challenges that I have. Again, I can only speak to the, the corporate environment. Managers are promoted into positions of power without any kind of orientation into what this thing might mean and you’re bringing your fallacies with you.
And managers who were probably high-performing members of the team in a particular area, but not necessarily skilled at managing people. But skilled at the work. Like the hard skills required to execute on the work. Michel: And so then if you’re really good at doing the work, then I’ll make you a manager, but I have not trained you in how to manage a team and it’s yours to go and figure out.
And you’re not enabling the team necessarily, because for many managers, the response when there’s a crisis is I’m gonna put on the same role that I used to do and I become one of the line as well. Instead of really bringing in more thoughtful approaches to assess “How did this happen and how can we enable staff to perform better?” Most recently, we were all tested in the COVID environment where something came out of nowhere and we were expected now to perform, unprepared for that. Here you are a manager making it up as you go along because now I have a remote environment and some of those fallacies are now thrust in front of you, how do you navigate that?
I’ll also add that, in terms of not bringing the fallacies into management and adapting to that change in role — I feel like what helped me to be able to mentor was being able to do in sort of a more low-stakes environment first, before being put into an official environment. Especially if you have a imposter syndrome being given a new title and then being given kind of specific responsibilities to go along with that title, sometimes the pressure can be a bit much. It’s nice to be able to kind of start mentoring, advising in sort of a more informal role first. Maybe you’re going out of your way to try to help a peer or colleague, or reaching out to someone who’s new or seeing if they need help with anything. Sometimes things might be take initiative to do. It might not be something in your job description per se, but it’s just something that will honestly help you for later. That’s how you build your confidence before you get to an official promotion or role that will actually come with more responsibilities, along with all the other benefits of being higher up.
And mentoring, because I think your point is well taken because the hard skills of doing your work in any division are not the same set of skills that you need when you start to lead people — to manage people — that’s a different skill set. And a lot of people have not had the opportunity to practice that mentoring. Mentorship is an opportunity to develop people, to learn about people’s needs, to move them from one point to another, to elevate, to enhance, to bring people up or push them up. And so mentorship is certainly a really good place to start. When you get into those other positions of leadership, particularly if that’s an aspiration of yours, start mentoring where you are. Whether it’s in a school, a community organization inside your workplace, you have skills, these are important skills. Helping people to develop one skill or another is a big deal. And that’s what leadership is asking for. So yes, Cadeem you were right with starting low stakes starting before you’re called upon or tapped to take on the responsibility. So one thing I want to know is what’s one thing you would’ve done differently had it not been for the imposter syndrome? That’s something to think about. Wow, I can’t start my list here. We don’t have enough time in this podcast to go over what I would do differently if I didn’t have imposter syndrome. I should ask “Where would you be had it not been for imposter syndrome?” That’s a good followup question. Tiffany, why don’t we start with you? What’s one thing you would have done differently if not for imposter syndrome.
So it’s sort of two things that surround the same issue. I would have started my master’s degree way sooner. The time I started to think about doing it, it was about six to seven years later before I actually decided to apply. So by the time I got in and started, I would’ve been finished at like three times over by that point. Along the same vein of school, I would not have spent as much time spinning around and spinning around on my papers, on my presentations, on the deliverables I had in my program. Feeling like, OK, this is going to be the paper, or this is going to be the presentation where they finally find out they should have never let me into this program. So I would spend so much time trying to make it absolutely perfect to ensure that they didn’t find out that I just slipped through the cracks and shouldn’t have been here in the first place. So I would’ve learned to trust myself a lot more and I’m not 100%t there, but I’m definitely better now. So I would be much more efficient in my work if I didn’t have imposter syndrome.
So the perfectionism actually reduces the efficiency.
I think one of the big areas for me is trying to look for freelance work. I’ve been able to get some good opportunities via things outside of the nine to five. But for a while, I didn’t feel like… I guess I felt I literally felt like a fraud trying to sell service for something that I thought I wasn’t that good in. It honestly took someone else to make me realize my work had value. A former student of mine, who I TA’d, actually reached out to me to try to help him with some editing and writing for a magazine that he had started. And it really took that experience for me to realize that some people actually did view me as a great mentor and thought I was good at what I do. I think it was that experience, say maybe six years ago now, that actually made me think that I could possibly do this for career and so forth. And that actually helped me establish career clarity as well.
Wow. That’s a really big deal. So what, this is a big plug for mentoring. Everybody go out now and find someone to start mentoring. You need to be mentoring. Because in addition to you talking about the writers that you mentor, and how that helps you to develop those skills for leadership here, you’re referring to again, students that you’re mentoring that turn around in a way to mentor you. To give you the courage, the clarity and that vote of confidence to push you forward. So listen, get out and get that mentoring going right now.It’s a reciprocal relationship.
And I will say too, don’t be discouraged as well if it doesn’t always work out. So for me, as a TA I had 40 students. One of them ended up being one that actually saw real value in me and kept in touch. But that one ended up paying big dividends.
That is really good because you know what? We have to start talking numbers, you know, data-driven decisions. That’s what it’s all about right now. We have to talk numbers. One of the numbers that’s really mind blowing for me is the percentage of people that support the leadership of a country. 51%, 52% and they get to be the leader of everybody. And so you’re teaching a class and it’s one student or two students, but those are opportunities for transformative relationships. So you don’t actually need everyone you mentor to support or to be there for you to reciprocate over time. One can be that, one is enough. So I think that number is something we have to be mindful of, because sometimes we are expecting, as you say, the fallacy that everyone you touch is gonna touch you back. You know, one hand down, one hand up, but sometimes you’re gonna go through thousands of people. Helping out, but that one person comes back with just the right thing to propel you to the next level. So I think we are talking about imposter syndrome and mentoring. Peter, what would you do differently?
I think it’s along the same vein as Tiffany , and Cadeem. I think it’s too innumerable to count, but it’s the opportunities that you let slip because you evaluate that, “OK, this is probably not the time. Maybe I’m not gonna be able to make the impact that I could have if I were more the expert.” So without the imposter syndrome, I think certainly my experience personally and professionally would have been much more varied than it is currently.
Wow. And so the next question we’re gonna look at is what advice would you give someone who struggles with the syndrome?
I’m thinking one of the big ones for me is, the quote: Comparison is the thief of joy. And at times it’s actually sort of guided me away from my imposter syndrome or at times I believe given me confidence that I can actually do more than I was doing. Because I would look at say friends or former coworkers and so forth, where I knew their work ethic, and I thought that if they’re doing it, I can as well. But there are other times though, where you’re looking at their success and you feel maybe robbed or just feel like, “They can do it, but I can’t, I guess I’m a failure.” And then that will definitely kill your motivation. But I realize looking at it, you talked about clear career clarity. That’s a big thing that could definitely help people kind of figure out where they’re going earlier in life. It could be an issue perhaps they (people doing better than you) just have more career clarity than you. If they’re younger than you, if you feel like they don’t work as hard and so forth, maybe they knew exactly what they needed to do and they set a more straightforward path to getting there. And that can be one issue. It took me longer to get to where I am now, but it’s partly because I’ve still figured it out. For some people, they might just have more career clarity. They might have, you know, a network you don’t know about. You don’t know what other factors went into their success and you don’t necessarily need to feel discouraged by the fact that you don’t have what they have or that you’re not on the same level as they are.
Very similar to what Cadeem mentioned. It’s a concept that, Michel you’ve mentioned a number of times, and that is running your own race and not deriving your value from other people or seeking their validation. It’s always great to have that feedback. It does help with your confidence, but it also has the opposite effect when the outcomes aren’t positive. So it is looking at where you are, where you want to go, but not mapping that by comparing yourself to other people in your circle or outside of it. Just really running your own race, paying attention to what you are doing, what the things are that you need to do to get to where you want to go. And then. When you get there, I think that that helps you to feel a little bit more confident in the fact that you deserve to be there because you’ve been paying attention to your own journey. You’ve been investing in yourself. And when you arrive to the place that you want to go, then it’s, ever the more satisfying. And then. When you get there, I think that that helps you to feel a little bit more confident in the fact that you deserve to be there because you’ve been paying attention to your own journey. You’ve been investing in yourself. And when you arrive to the place that you want to go, then it’s ever the more satisfying.
Awesome. Awesome. Peter, your thoughts?
In terms of reducing the imposter syndrome, don’t be afraid to pay it forward. Don’t be afraid to allow individuals that we encounter in our various power dynamics to be aware of the fact that yeah, “I’m showing up. And, I come to this with this label, ‘senior executive’ but I’m, I’m really occupying a space of learning as well.” And be deliberate about that because what comes back to you in terms of supporting you in your own development, you can’t value that. As I came to have this conversation, there are two things that were kind of working in my mind. The first is the idea of a destination, which we must all have. The emphasis must always be in the journey and to, the points that Cadeem and Tiffany spoke to, it’s the milestones along the journey. You are author and finisher of what the milestones ought to be. So don’t necessarily compare yourself with the world, but be clear on what the goal is. Be kind to yourself along the journey.
That’s correct. And I’m hearing the same themes that sit with me. when I think about how do we address imposter syndrome. I’m hearing career clarity, clear goals. Whether that’s career, business, skill development, social, whatever the goals are, make sure that you are clear about where you’re going. I think it’s also important, not only for us to define what those goals are, but why those goals. How has it come to be that this is the goal you’ve chosen over all the other goals. Because I think when we are able to think why, it helps us to strengthen the focus on the goal, Also, the idea that you brought up again Tiffany, run your own race. I am a strong believer in running your own race. Know what race you’re running. That’s first, there are sprints and there are long-distance races. So you can’t be preparing for a sprint and comparing yourself with someone running a long distance race and vice versa. One of the things that I find quite interesting when I watch track and field is watching long distance races, where two people are running side by side, but they’re not running the same lap. And that I think sometimes that confuses people. Someone is right beside you, and it appears that you’re at the same point in your race, but you are not in the same lap. You are ahead if you’re focusing on continuous learning, you’re ahead. You are ahead if behind the scenes you’re working and reflecting on who you are, building your awareness of yourself, focusing on your goals, making sure that you have an action plan that bites sizes these action steps, that you’re taking them consistently every day, walking towards it, that you are patient and that you believe in yourself and you believe in your goals and that you are not gonna relent. You are not running the same race with the person beside you, just because they’re beside you. You’re not even in the same lap. OK. And so that’s one of the things that I always think about to help me build my confidence. I know that I’m working on myself very aggressively, consistently, and I know that most people are not dedicating that much time and effort to working on themselves. So I know when someone shows up beside me, perhaps at an event or at a conference or so on, we may not be in the same lap. And that’s one thing that helps with my confidence. I encourage you to work hard on believing in yourself, work hard on identifying your strengths, work hard on sharing your knowledge, sharing your skills. When you share or teach or mentor, you are moving yourself to a higher and higher level. When you are out there hiding your trade secrets, hiding what you know, it needs to come out to scrutiny. It needs to come out to get a different insight. There are holes in what we think, there are holes in our knowledge. If you put it out there, other people will poke holes at it to see if it’s what you think it is. And through that process, we’re learning. Someone may have a completely different perspective on it. So we need to be sharing what you know, whether it’s a skill, an approach, a perspective, knowledge. Share it, help someone else. And I like this idea of paying it forward, supporting someone else, supporting mentoring, sponsoring. These are things that we can do to support others, but also it’s supports us. And it helps to bust imposter syndrome.
Thank you for listening to this episode of UpSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. We bring you new episodes every Monday. Please take a moment to subscribe, leave a five star rating and a written review at apple podcast. Or follow us on. By Google podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, don’t forget to share UpSkill talks with other leaders like yourself. So they too may gain the skills and insights to produce amazing results. Please go to UpSkillCommunity.com to review show notes and learn how you can join a community of leaders from across the globe. Collaborating to lead in a more meaningful and impactful way. I’m your host, Michel Shah. And again, thank you for joining me on this episode of UpSkill Talks.
There was a problem reporting this post.
Please confirm you want to block this member.
You will no longer be able to:
Please allow a few minutes for this process to complete.