When I went back to school at the age of 37 I couldn't believe UC Berkeley accepted me as a student. In fact, it was a running joke in our tiny apartment in student family housing. I would ask my 14 year-old son (at the time) if anyone had called and he would tell me, you guessed it, "UC Berkeley called. They said they made a mistake and you don't belong here." We would laugh at our running joke but the reality was I was a fish out of water. I was older, with a 2-year old daughter and 2 older sons. I had been in the workforce for 20 years, and everyone around me felt more in control, smarter and much more accomplished in their youth.
Many of us have stories like this. Returning to the work in 2006 I learned about the Imposter Syndrome. I had suffered from it my entire career. I always thought that at any moment I would be caught, in the act , a fraud. I wasn't really what I was pretending to be. "Fake it 'til you make it" was my mantra and it just kept going.
How did I overcome Imposter Syndrome? Coaching. A number of bad coaches (that is another blog) and one good one. I struggled to internalize my accomplishments reassuring myself that what was happening was not luck. I hung onto any set-back or failure as proof that I was right in my self-diagnosis of imposter. Eventually, I finally found resolution that indeed my actions were tied to my success and I needed to own it. Over time, I stopped anticipating the phone call from UC Berkeley. It was a long and cumbersome process.
I wish I had Stacey Sargent's book, Inner Critic Inner Success 20 years ago. When I heard her speak at the 2013 Voices Conference I had a massive "aha moment". All that effort and struggle with the Imposter Syndrome was broken down, explained, and a plan to remove those critics discussed. I thought WOW! This is HUGE! A logical and pragmatic approach and real solutions versus hours of trying to "get over it". Stacey, where have you been all my life?
When I heard Stacey had written a book, I knew this would be part of the Global Tech Women Book Club and here we are! I am pleased to announce Inner Critic Inner Success is our November/December Book Club selection. If you are interested in a systematic and pragmatic approach to removing those critics in your head, help is here. I hope you will take advantage of this moment and register for our meet-up on December 6th, 9am pst/12pm est/9:30pm ist. The meet-up is free. We are fortunate to have Stacey join us to answer any questions we might have. It should be an amazing event.
Take the time for yourself. End this year with the acknowledgement you are the reason for your success and join us! You will be glad you did.