All In - From Impostor Syndrome to Authentic LeaderFeatured

You know that dreaded feeling you have when you find yourself questioning whether you’re good enough or know enough to deserve the role or success you’ve attained? Or when your inner critic and self-doubt holds you back from owning your greatness, saying yes to opportunities, or making that next level leap in your career or business? Some people call that impostor syndrome. You may interpret feeling like an impostor as a sign that you’re not ready, not the right fit or that you can’t be successful until you know more, do more or have more. But what if feeling like an impostor was the catalyst you needed to grow into the best version of yourself? Over the last five years, I’ve coached dozens of women and facilitated hundreds of people on how to overcome impostor syndrome and other limiting scripts through authentic self-leadership. But by the time the pandemic hit in 2020, it became obvious that I needed to work on my own authentic leadership practice. You see, 2020 wasn't going to be just another year. It was going to be my year. At the beginning of every year I have a ritual of tuning in to my inner GPS to get a sense of the year ahead. By all measures, my inner guidance system indicated that 2020 was going to be a big year for me. In fact, the feeling and message that came through loud and clear was Big Energy. That message was particularly sweet because the previous six months had been like a dizzying roller coaster ride. In July 2019, I'd been recruited as a business advisor for a small business consulting firm. I was nervous about sidelining my own business to work for someone else. But I took the leap. Three days into my new role, my anxiety was at an all time high. This was a competitive club. My colleagues were ambitious and high-performing with a long list of business accomplishments to show for it. I worried that my background and achievements wouldn’t measure up. I felt like an impostor. Here I was at an age when I expected to be hitting my stride, doing work that highlighted the highest and best of my talents and skills, and enjoying my life outside of work. But when I turned 50 just two months into my new role, my performance was at the very bottom of the leaderboard and I was battling the onset of a mini mid-life crisis. So when I got the Big Energy message in January of 2020, it was an indicator for me that life was shifting in a positive way and that things were about to get bigger and better. I was determined to overcome my impostor syndrome and boost my impact and income in the process. Instead of continuing to trust my intuition though, I came up with a whole strategic plan for how I was going to leverage that Big Energy. And I set off to implement it. By March, it was clear that my best laid plans and exhausting efforts weren’t working. As the impacts of the pandemic swept across the globe, putting increasing strain on my clients and my employer’s bottom line, the pressure to perform only intensified. By the beginning of April, I was put on my first ever performance improvement plan. So much for Big Energy, am I right? How did I get here? How did I go from being the woman who was known for developing happy, healthy, high-performing teams and cultures to someone who was miserable, stressed, and under-performing herself? Was this a cosmic joke? Was this what Big Energy really meant? I paused to gather myself and go inward once again. Should I keep fighting to hit the goal, ask for more help and work twice as hard? Or should I cut my losses and re-evaluate what I was doing with my career and life? By this point I knew a strategic plan wouldn't cut it. I needed soul guidance. That's when I started to see the pandemic and my battle with Impostor Syndrome not as a barrier to my success, but as a wake up call that I’d been playing small all along. I realized that I was choosing to hide in the shadows of someone else's vision, because I was afraid of going all in on my own vision. The payoff of playing small was avoiding the risk of failure and rejection. But it was also clear that staying in that environment was costing me joy and fulfilment. And the longer I stayed, under the guise of not having enough time or resources to follow my passion, the more it was costing me in terms of expressing my full potential and making the kind of impact and income I knew I could make. Once I made the decision to stop trying to fit into a system that didn’t align with my worth, values, or highest and best expression, the journey from Impostor Syndrome to Authentic Leader began in earnest. Looking back, 2020 turned out to be the latest phase in my heroine's journey, which I define as a pilgrimage for women to own our greatness, reclaim our authentic self and express our unique gifts and voice in a world that wasn't designed with our success in mind. It's about flipping the script from not enoughness to valuing and amplifying who you are with power, love and presence so you can make the impact you're here to make and thrive along the way. This requires courage to look at the myriad ways we try to protect ourselves from emotional risk and social failure. To get honest about the short-term payoffs we get from staying comfortable and playing small. And then going deeper still to take stock of the real opportunity costs not just in terms of our time but in terms of our joy, fulfillment, impact and our capacity to thrive. Once I released my desire to try to control all the details and protect myself from perceived risk, I could see the futility of my strategic plan. Instead, I embraced the opportunity to stop downplaying my gifts and seeking validation from others to express my full authentic self. Out of that experience, I successfully launched my Authentic Leadership one on one and group coaching programs specifically to help other women navigate the journey from impostor syndrome to authentic leadership. Making the leap, even in the middle of a pandemic, turned out to be the best decision for me. In my free ebook Owning It @ Work - The Journey from Impostor to Authentic Leader, I delve deeper into the five big opportunities that impostor syndrome creates for women as we navigate the heroine's journey and how to use them as a catalyst to be(come) the authentic leader, author and director of your own life and career.​
Thank you for sharing this awesome guide
My pleasure. Thank you for your interest. I’ll be hosting a Clubhouse conversation on the topic on Mar 22nd if you’re able to join.
I'd love to join but Clubhouse seems quite exclusive these days. Can you maybe host it on an open access platform?
Hi @Aida90. I do have a few invitations to share if you have an iPhone I’d be happy to invite you. And your point is well taken. I’m going to set something up through zoom as well.
I just got on clubhouse as well & I also have two invites I can share if anyone wants one.
Excellent@susanfung and i just discovered that in true abundance the more you share the more Clubhouse gives you.
@elanbailey Nice!! Let’s share away. Lol
Thank you @elanbailey! I just shared your article in our EvolveMe Slack community. It was so timely as we covered imposter syndrome in our Reinvention Collective program just last week. Thank you for sharing from such an authentic place :)
Thank you @linda16. I’m glad that sharing my experience can help others. It truly has been phenomenal to look back now and think about how much I was struggling in a role that didn’t serve me just one year ago. And now I’m getting to do my highest and best work everyday. In my experience it really is an inside out job.
Wow, thanks for sharing this inspiring story @elanbailey. Through experiencing something similar (high performer suddenly finding myself at the bottom) and speaking to others I learned that it's so much more common than we think - but it was hard to find the clarity and courage you so eloquently describe here. Congrats on your latest success!
Thank you @PattiChan. It’s not easy being out on the skinny branches of career transition especially when the experience is so fresh. But I’m glad I could share my story, knowing that others are going through similar challenges and may not have come out the other side.
"The payoff of playing small was avoiding the risk of failure and rejection. But it was also clear that staying in that environment was costing me joy and fulfilment. And the longer I stayed, under the guise of not having enough time or resources to follow my passion, the more it was costing me in terms of expressing my full potential and making the kind of impact and income I knew I could make."That brings true for me. I have turned down opportunities that I felt that I am not ready for and cost of doing so is enormous. I sure do learn from your thoughts as expressed above.Thank you.Rafiat
Thank you @Rafiat. I’m glad my sharing has been helpful
Extremely inspiring journey @elanbailey . What makes your message even more powerful is how many people, woman in particular, experience imposter syndrome and don't take action. Leaning into your true self and not trying to be someone else to fit into a mold is so thought provoking! You've taken a huge step by launching your coaching program and provided more power to all of us contemplating a similar change. Thank you!