• Nicky Drew - Hippo Coaching

Do you feel like a fraud waiting to be found out?

If you do feel inadequate, not as 'good' as others or fear being 'found out' one day it could be down to Imposter Syndrome. It might feel that you are the only person that feels like that but believe me it's more common than you think.

When I was training to be a coach I really had to face my Imposter Syndrome head on. Below is an extract from my professional diary at the time.

"The ramblings of a trainee coach (her imposter and her chimp) Recently I heard a lecturer say 'knowledge is suffering'. This really struck a chord with me as being very relevant to my current studies undertaking the Barefoot Coaching course. Each new area of coaching or psychological study I cover, whilst really useful and often inspiring, unearths gaps in my coaching knowledge or a real desire to explore the area in much greater detail. Whilst my rational brain knows that I am learning and developing as a coach I have an uneasy feeling of a huge light being shone on all of my areas for development. I suppose before the course I didn't know what I didn't know and now part way through the course that isn't the case. My rational mind also knows that this knowledge will come with time and experience but it is rattling the cage of my chimp (emotional brain) and imposter.

With so much still to learn thoughts such as "Am I enough for my clients as I am now" and "My clients would be better with a more experienced coach" are creeping into my self talk. My Human brain keeps reminding me that I do have many qualities of being a good coach and that I am progressing with my coaching skills but my 'imposter' likes to make its insecurities known too.

Another observation about myself is that I tend to dive so far into the theoretical underpinnings of models and concepts that I can lose the way a little and become side tracked by the detail rather than focussing on what works rather than necessarily why it works. So with my bookcase groaning with text books, lots still unread, and my head spinning with new concepts and theories I am going to take a step back and keep in my mind that the client has their own answers and the key principles of building a good coaching relationship. Rather than trying to be an expert on the psychological underpinnings of coaching theories I will focus on creating an environment which enhances thinking through attention, listening skills and relevant questions whilst holding the highest regard for the client but also myself as a coach (and my chimp!)."

As you can see I'm well acquainted with Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome can really impact on the way a person relates and engages to the world. What would you do if you knew that your imposter was lying? Things to silence the imposter;

1. Realise that your thought are just thoughts not reality. We run most of our lives on autopilot thinking the same thoughts that we did the previous day, hour and minute. These automatic thoughts can be dangerous if we are tuned into the voice of our inner critic or Crap FM as I like to call it. If you are tuned into Crap FM you are going to hear crap and probably believe it. So aim to become aware of these negative thoughts and let them go, don't believe them or hang on to them. Your feelings are the bodies message to you that your thoughts are off track. If you become aware of uncomfortable feelings the likelihood is that you are running automatic negative thought patterns.

2. Do a reality check. Where is the actual evidence for these negative thoughts about yourself? Tune in to all of your successes and strengths. Allow yourself to internalise success rather than discounting it as luck or feeling that others will find out the real truth about you soon.

3. Stop comparing yourself - As the saying goes you are comparing your insides with other peoples public outsides. Only you have access to your self doubts you don't often see other peoples as we master public personas, especially in our working lives.

4. If Imposter Syndrome strikes shift your focus outwards by genuinely trying to help others. C.S Lewis wrote "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."

5. Imposter Syndrome may be so ingrained that you need support from somebody else. Try to have at least one person in your life that you can be your true self with, 'warts n all'. This could be a friend, parent, partner or a coach.

Good luck! Nicky Drew

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