Last week i was having a conversation over coffee with my coach Danielle of Step and Stone about how to coach one of my mentees, (let’s say she’s called Ann…not her real name) who was suffering from imposter syndrome – feeling like she did not have the right skills to apply for a job promotion at work.
This inner-fear is something that I was all too familiar with…..
I had worn it around myself like a winter coat guarding me from external rejection.
Over the years, I have learned to shed off my internal doubts and build up my confidence. During the conversation, my coach Danielle suggested I write a collection of posts centered on ‘Messages to my Younger Self’ to unpack the lessons I learned during my career that could help Ann build her confidence.
I loved the idea…. as it enabled me to engage in a conscious process of looking back at my close to 20 year career stint and field out some of the key lessons learned along the way.
Get the inside right and the Outside Will Fall Into Place!
As a global director for an international hyper-growth start-up and a co-founder of one of the most diverse women-led communities across the continent, one of the greatest lessons that i have learned is that ‘If you can get the inside right the outside will fall into place’.
“You are not good enough!”
That’s the message that kept re-playing in my head after going through a performance appraisal a few years ago when my job performance was rated ‘does not meet expectation’. This all too familiar incessant and involuntary sound-track began to play repeatedly in my head making me feel unworthy and frustrated spiraling quickly into increased levels of anxiety and fear. This caused me to doubt and second-guess myself even more leading me to beat myself up on the things that I was not doing well thus continuing to perform worse at work.
Getting stuck in a negative thought loop continued to play itself out in my life, Until, i attended a ‘Leading From Within’ workshop http://www.fromquiet.co.uk conducted by the amazing teachers Maria and Ash who taught me how to quieten my mind. I learned how to watch my thoughts and recognize when my energy was operating below the line (which simply means – when i was operating with negative energy).
This self-awareness tool changed my life for the better – and it was the beginning of me harnessing the resources within myself to build out a better and happier life. Leveraging this tool, i was able to:
1) Adopt a growth-mindset – rather than beating myself up for receiving constructive feedback, I re-framed my mindset about failure and celebrated these moments as opportunities to stretch myself. With this exercise, i learned that my greatest advocate in life is me.
2) Build the agency within myself to confront my truth and my reality. At work i confronted my reality that the job i was doing at the time was not a good role fit for me because i wasn’t utilizing all of my strengths.
3) I began to listen and trust my inner-voice. Going deeper and tapping into my inner-being unearthed my deep desire to connect my career with creating jobs/economic opportunities and making an impact on the continent.
Armed with this new information, In the next few months, I turned around my performance and obtained a higher performance rating at work by applying a growth-mindset. Thereafter, I brushed up my resume, built my career profile and got a job at Andela that integrated my passion for job creation in Africa with my career.
Self-awareness is a deliberate and continuous process and I’m still on the journey of self-improvement. I continue to learn new habits and un-learn old behavioral habits that are no longer serving me well.