Why oh why do we do it to ourselves?
As soon as we hit the ‘stop’ button after our live broadcast last Saturday, we turned to each other and said, “shit, I can’t believe that just happened!” We were, of course, referring to the fact that the technology had let us down. We’d had to massively improvise, stream on both our personal Facebook pages, and whilst doing so, lost a good chunk of our audience. Gutted. We talked of nothing else for the next few hours. We even asked ourselves the question, are we really capable of doing this?
Over the years I’ve noticed that when something doesn’t quite go to plan, or we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, we have a real tendency to beat ourselves up and question our capability. I’m talking about women here. I’ve come to realise it’s one of our most self-defeating qualities. And what good does it do us? To go over and over the detail of what happened and why? We start to question our capability and the faith others have in us. In effect we’re just beating ourselves up and I’m tired of it.
So why do we do it?
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg confessed a year before her book, Lean In, was published: “There are still days I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”
Wow! If Sheryl feels this way that makes me feel a little better. So what is this feeling we’re all experiencing? It’s called Imposter Syndrome. The fear of being exposed. The feeling that you’re a fraud, don’t deserve your success, and that one day soon you’ll be ‘found out’.
Countless pieces of research have told us that women undervalue themselves. No wonder we’re so bad at asking for that pay rise. It also explains why we steer away from a new challenge until we feel qualified for it. Men just tend to go for it and see what happens.
This all goes well beyond false modesty. It comes down to confidence. A big lack of.
Evidence also shows that women are less self-assured than men and that to success, confidence matters as much as competence. Sounds like bad news? Well the good news is, that with hard work, confidence can be acquired. The confidence gap can be closed.
What do we do about it?
How about more women in influential positions hold their hands up, and speak about their insecurities? This gives the rest of us a realistic picture of the struggles that successful women have and at the same time, have our own feelings validated.
One big problem with this is that it is still very much seen as ‘a weakness’ to show fallibility or emotion in business. It takes real courage to speak up. So the alternative is to fake it but faking it means those who follow us, the millennial generation, are likely to end up faking it too. That’s not the legacy I want to leave my daughter. Do you?
But women don’t need to behave like men to overcome imposter syndrome. It’s important to just be authentic. To be ourselves.
It’s essential to create a strong network of supporters to champion us, hold us accountable, and help us to keep things in perspective.
So time to fess up and share our insecurities. Jodie and I have often spoken about whether anyone is going to be interested in Violet and Charlie. Are we qualified enough? Do we have a service that people want to buy? Luckily we have each other to give ourselves a kick and a good dose of ‘Yes we can’.
We know so many of you feel like this and we can help you. It’s ok to feel less than confident. It’s ok to cry. We did this on Saturday. Then we focused on what we had achieved so far. The number of people we’ve reached, heard from, helped over the years, and all this tells us that we are not imposters. We’re finding our feet, staying true to ourselves, and loving every minute of it.
if you’re feeling like an imposter come and get your confidence back, and build resilience by visiting us at violetandcharlie.com
And if you’re feeling super brave after reading this then our You’re Pretty Confident taster workshop in Manchester on the 10th June is right up your street – come and join us! Check out our events page here
If you enjoyed my blog this week or you know of other women that this would relate to then please give it a share