When I was asked to host a group coaching session for SheSays on Imposter Syndrome, I wasn’t expecting the unleashing of my imposter.
Over the last few years my professional life has become closer to my purpose and, in particular, my executive coaching work helping women as they progress in their careers.
The invite to host a coaching session for SheSays, a networking organisation focussed on the advancement of women in the creative industries, was a ‘purpose bullseye’. Shockingly only 12% of senior creatives are female. I felt excited and energised by the opportunity to host this session; to help these women understand and manage their imposters and to realise their potential.
The power of my imposter
However, my excitement quickly turned to anxiety. How many people do you think will come? “We normally have around 100” replied the organiser. Anxiety turned to panic. I’d never tried to do a group coaching session with anything like this number. I was well aware of the irony of feeling like an imposter whilst preparing to be an ‘imposter expert’. I decided to inquire into my imposter as I was preparing for the session.
My imposter made me doubt myself and my abilities. I experienced a sensation of crumbling from within. Reasoning with it wasn’t effective. This was an argument I wasn’t going to win with rational, logical debate. My reaction was to ‘over-do’ – over-working, over-researching, over-planning, and over-thinking.
I recognised the familiarity of this reaction yet I still couldn’t help myself. More worryingly, I’d designed a coaching session with every moment full – there was no space for anything to emerge.
At one level this was reassuring. How could anything possibly go wrong with this degree of planning? At another level I knew this wasn’t the session I wanted to host. It wasn’t the experience I wanted the attendees to have.
The power of sharing
I shared my experience with my fellow WOMBA directors. One gently observed that I was trying to prove myself by putting everything I knew into the 90-minute session. And just being me was good enough and to trust myself. The other asked how it would feel if I were to enjoy it. And wouldn’t it be a great outcome if everyone just took away one thing from the session.
It felt like a weight lifting. I started to feel more playful, experimental and open. Let’s see where the session goes, what we can co-create, work with what emerges. This was the approach I took and at the start of the session I invited those in the room to do the same.
It was the most remarkable evening and one of the most inspiring learning experiences I’ve had. We connected with our imposters through mindfulness
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