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Pete Mockaitis

Gold Nugget #465: The Cure for Impostor Syndrome: How to Feel Less Like a Fraud and Appreciate Your Successes with Dr. Valerie Young

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In episode 465, Valerie Young sheds light on the impostor syndrome and shows a healthy way out.

People in achievement areas (e.g., academics, business, career) have a high tendency for impostor syndrome. They credit their capabilities and accomplishments to things outside themselves, such as luck. Or, the “impostor” is unaware that they are in the middle of a normal learning curve. Examples of thoughts running inside their mind include:

  • “I’m going to be found out.”
  • “I’m in over my head. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
  • “Everyone else is smarter than me.”

In moments of impostor syndrome, shift your mindset by reframing 3 key elements:

  • Competence. No human can consistently hit perfection. Instead, develop a healthy drive to excel without feeling shame when you feel short. Not everything has to be perfect—especially on the first try. Course-correct as you go along.
  • Criticism. Quit obsessing over your failure to meet others’ expectations. Instead, build on your strengths and wins. Seek out and appreciate constructive feedback and opportunities for improvement.
  • Fear. Your body doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. Therefore, regardless of your feelings, tell yourself “I’m excited.”

Watch out for the five types of impostors:

  • The perfectionists beat themselves up for minor mistakes in an otherwise excellent performance. To them, even a score of 99/100 is unacceptable.
  • The experts never feel like they know enough. They think that they have to know 150% before taking action on their endeavors.
  • The natural genius thinks, “If I were really intelligent, this wouldn’t be so hard.” They struggle to master things in their mind when others have worked for a long time to achieve mastery.
  • The soloists think accomplishments only count if they complete them all by themselves. They feel shame if they have to ask for help.
  • The superman/woman/student strives to excel in every role they play in their life—even when that’s impossible.

To feel less like a fraud, adopt the beliefs and behaviors of a non-impostor:

  • While we want to excel at lots of things, we’re not going to excel at everything. We cannot know and do it all.
  • Celebrate your successes and reward yourself for your efforts, no matter the outcome. Consider all things to be opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Always see yourself as a work in progress.
  • When others doubt your capability, jump in anyway and trust that you can figure it out as you go. When you are in over your head, lean on your support network and resources.

Everyone loses when bright people play small. Please don’t hold back from showing your full range of knowledge, skills, and potential! Remember that you got hired for your capacity. Somebody out there could be feeling the impact of your potential.

You are entitled to make a mistake, have an off day, and be yourself. Moments of feeling incompetent and stupid will come. But step up, take it as an opportunity, and tell yourself, “Somebody is going to get that cool job. Somebody is going to do that cool thing. It might as well be me.”

Read / listen to the full episode here.

Gold Nugget #462: Increasing Your Self-Awareness to Improve Your Leadership with Pamela McLean

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In episode 462, Pam McLean emphasizes self-awareness as the key to unlocking your leadership potential.

Leadership development necessitates a commitment to change. No matter who you are, change requires much conscious effort. Habit and routine exert their natural pull—even if it means stagnation. Great leaders commit to pushing past the fear of change so they can grow and develop.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses as the first step toward growth. When people want to change, they tend to ask others what needs to happen. Instead, Pam recommends starting with self-reflection. Honestly identify your underlying challenges. People often overlook self-awareness in the change process. However, self-awareness often leads to self-correcting without any external intervention.

Identify self-limiting narratives. Pam suggests that almost all people have self-limiting beliefs or narratives. For example, Pam grew up on a cattle ranch. Her environment encouraged strength and independence. As a result, she felt reluctant to ask for others’ help. Self-sufficiency served her well on the ranch…but hindered her leadership later in life. Noting your own self-liming beliefs makes room for a broader perspective.

Grow your leadership skills by cultivating your internal landscape. You can speed up your development by investing in these six dimensions of self:

  1. Presence. Your attention to self and the ability to be there for another. Try mindfulness apps (such as Simple Habit) or putting away your phone when others are speaking.
  2. Empathy. The ability to take another’s perspective and empathize with it—without making it your own experience. Research shows that good self-care practices also increase empathy. Win-win!
  3. Range of Feelings. The ability to be at ease with a broad range of emotions—instead of shying away from unfamiliar or unpleasant ones. Try asking others to put their feelings on a 1 to 5 scale of intensity.
  4. Boundaries & Systems. Maintaining your limits and helping someone solve their problem instead of solving it for them. Try to avoid the temptation to rescue or collude. Instead, keep asking helpful questions.
  5. Embodiment. Fully experiencing your body in the moment and recognizing how your body reflects your thoughts. Try different breathing approaches and note how they impact your body.
  6. Courage. Acting despite the fear of failure and working towards change despite discomfort. Identify two or three little actions that make you feel slightly nervous. Do those actions every day to build your courage.

Gold Nugget #449: Leaning Out with Marissa Orr

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In episode 499, Marissa Orr shares fresh, actionable wisdom on the workplace gender gap and reframes how alleged weaknesses can actually be strengths.

Marissa asserts that the ‘lean in’ mentality overlooks how institutions ignore women’s varied desires and wellbeing. With the ‘lean in’ mentality, women are blamed for the gender gap because they aren’t ambitious or assertive—i.e., like men. Marissa counters this with the ‘lean out’ mentality, which pins the blame on institutions for measuring and rewarding success without considering women’s varied strengths and motivations.

People resist acknowledging valid gender differences because of value judgments. People are comfortable discussing trivial gender differences, but get defensive when it becomes about how men and women relate differently to power. Marissa explains that people take offense because they already perceive one as better or stronger than the other when in reality, power is a much broader concept.

“Strengths” depend upon the surrounding context. For example, in zero-sum game contexts, collaboration is seen as a weakness because there are fewer opportunities to create win-win scenarios. But if you flip the context to a cooperative environment, then collaboration becomes a powerful strength.

Find how you can put your strengths to work. Not every setting is designed to let you fully capitalize on your strengths. Thus, it’s important to figure out how your work can meet your needs, how work can’t meet your needs, and how you can fill those gaps with your strengths.

Listen to / read the full episode HERE.