What if they find me out?

What if they find me out?

I’m starting with a new coaching client this week. In our recent Discovery Session to explore if we wanted to work together, she shared her nervousness about her new leadership role. “What if I’m not up to it?” she confided. “What if I should have stayed where I was?”. “What if they find me out?”

Ah, yes. What if they find me out? So familiar!

You too?

You are not an imposter

I can see from our chat and from a quick look at her profile that she’s hugely capable. I have every faith she’ll thrive in her new role. Yet, like so many of my coaching clients in the purpose-led world, she has a powerful feeling she doesn’t quite deserve to be there. That somehow she tricked her new colleagues into appointing her and will shortly be exposed as a fraud.

You’ll have heard it called Imposter Syndrome and I’ve seen it a lot. It’s really common among the high-performing women I’m lucky enough to work with (though it’s got to be said, men experience it too). I can usually see the signs – massive perfectionism, a reluctance to acknowledge successes and working very, very hard.

Underneath it all is a feeling that they’re not quite good enough.

An alternative view

In a previous post, which you can read here, I wrote about moving on from feeling like a fraud with an exercise called ‘Acting As If’. It really seemed to resonate.

Recently, I’ve been thinking that maybe this feeling isn’t such a bad sign after all. The thing is, when you’re promoted, you’re bound to be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You’ve no practice at that particular role, so yes, you’re going to feel like a fake because you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing. That’s pretty normal, right?

If you stayed inside your comfort zone you’d be safe from that uncomfortable fraud feeling. But there would be no growing, no learning, no development. You’d stagnate. You’d get frustrated. You’d fail to meet your potential or be giving your very best to your organisation. Who wants that? Not many of my clients, for sure.

So maybe the “what if they find me out?” feeling doesn’t have to be such a bad sign. How about seeing it as an indication that you’re out of your comfort zone, AND you’re on the cusp of exciting new things? Wow! What could happen then?

What if I’m really good at this?

I encourage my clients to harness that positive energy rather than the energy of doubt. Asking themselves instead “what if I’m really good at this?”. I invite them to keep looking at the actual evidence, making lists, if necessary, of achievements and successes – and reading them often – to remind themselves of their unique strengths and talents and how very lucky their new organisations are to have them.

Over to you?

So, does this resonate? Do you have any tips you’d like to share for getting over that “what if they find me out?” feeling. I’d love to hear from you. Add your comments below to join in the conversation.

What next?

If you’re anxious you’ll be be ‘found out’ at work give me a call on 0208 772 7808 (or 07958 501 427) or click here to set up a phone meeting to see how coaching can help.




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2 responses to “What if they find me out?”

  1. Katy avatar

    ‘What if I’m really good at this?’ is great advice!

    I took on a leadership role a year ago, and apart from allowing myself the self-belief to succeed, I realised that one of the key elements of success in a leadership role is self-confidence. Most importantly, acting and making decisions with confidence.

    It’s something I still have to work on sometimes, but I find having someone as a sounding-board helps.

  2. Katie Duckworth avatar
    Katie Duckworth

    Thanks Katy! I’m glad this post was useful and great to hear that you’re continuing to thrive in your leadership role.