Nicky Raby on imposter syndrome and how to shed it
by Nicky Raby, 23rd May 2018
Imposter syndrome: the feeling that your success shouldn't belong to you; that you're not worthy of it, plagues many women. Here, business and life coach Nicky Raby discusses her own experience of it, and offers tips for owning your success...
Nicky is a huge advocate of the portfolio career; she’s an actor, qualified life and business coach, writer and speaker. She is passionate about supporting other women (and men!) to create a business and life that defines their version of success. Since qualifying as a coach, she has helped over 700 people through her workshops, 1:1 sessions and online courses. She's also mum to a two-year-old son, so knows how tricky the 'juggle' can be, and advises parents on staying motivated both at home and at work.
We loved your live video on imposter syndrome. For those who are yet to see it, could you explain what this term means?’
Imposter Syndrome in its simplest form is being afraid of being found out. Often when ‘success’ is gained, there can be a personal backlash of feeling like a fraud, almost as though it happened by accident, when in reality, there was probably a lot of hard work involved.
What’s your own experience of imposter syndrome?
To be truthful, I have it often and always have. I constantly find myself in amazing situations where I look around and think how did I get here? That little check-in can sometimes be positive, as it makes me very present in the moment and fully experience the opportunity. However I don’t allow myself to stay in a ‘less than’ headspace for long, as I know my value and what steps I have taken to get to this point. It certainly didn’t happen overnight or by accident!
Do women suffer with this more than men? If yes, why?
For me, it is more to do with personality. I have a friend who believes wholeheartedly in herself, no matter what the situation. That belief is infectious and no one questions it. I also know so many people who are so qualified, capable, dynamic and intelligent who struggle to ‘put themselves out there’ because of old limiting beliefs that don’t serve them ... and often are not true!
Are there ways to overcome this lack of confidence about your abilities and success?
Absolutely. It may not be an overnight change but it is definitely something you can work on. I frequently share an exercise with my clients called The Success Timeline. It is easy to complete, simply take a piece of paper and in the first instance write down your basic life facts - where you were born, your school years, places you lived. Then go a layer deeper ... write down key moments in your life; the successes, the times where you had to rise up to the occasions, the forks in the road, the doors you closed, the doors you opened and the ugly cries! Then go another layer deeper; what did you learn? What surprised you? What didn’t you know about yourself? How did the trajectory of your life change? You are never starting the new chapter from scratch, you are building on a wealth of experience.
What do you make of the ‘fake it till you make it’ idea - before success, is there space for pretending you’ve already succeeded and then working hard to make its actually happen?
I am completely onboard with this ... maybe not buying Gucci shoes until you have the money, but in terms of mindset - yes. We can assume there is going to be the ‘perfect day’ where the stars align and you will be ready. I disagree, you have to make the decision to step into what you want. A coach once shared with me ‘Make decisions from where you want to be rather than where you are now.’ So many of us can play small as our default, but I know we are supposed to dream bigger.
Why is it important to give ourselves a pat on the back from time to time?
It is so important. It makes everything worthwhile. Unless we stop and acknowledge our success, we can get lost in the ‘doing’. If we take the time to recognise what is working, we can create more of that, rather than just ‘working hard’ all the time. Plus it is good for the soul!
Could you share three tips for owning your success?
Firstly, it is important to understand what your version of success is and go for that. The online world is wonderful but it can be distracting ... there is so much noise.
Secondly, find a way that suits you to track your success. As a life coach, I am into journaling, mapping out my goals and then breaking them down into an action plan. Once my goals are in writing, they feel more ‘real’ and also encourage me to think about them and focus regularly which brings momentum.
Thirdly, recognise what you need in order to make it happen. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s ‘success plan’. These could be the typical productivity hacks; exercise, green juice, meditation but also it could be the small things; creating an ‘out of office’, working from a cafe instead of home, taking Fridays off etc.