Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like an imposter in your own life or business? Raise two hands if you’ve let those feelings keep you from stepping into the fullness of what you believe you were made to do? Yeah….you’re not alone.
I work with amazing and incredible women every day who have so much to give, but who struggle to move past their own internal limitations and believe that what they have to offer is truly needed and valuable.
That’s why I’m SO pumped to share this amazing conversation I had recently with none other than Tanya Geisler, a phenomenal Toronto-based leadership coach, TEDx speaker and writer who has taught thousands of leaders how to step into their starring roles and own their authority in their lives, their work, and in their life’s work.
Specifically, Tanya explores the “Impostor Complex” (IC): a person’s inherent suspicion that their success is somehow undeserved and that they will eventually be exposed as a fluke or a fraud. The IC is chronic and impacts us all—particularly high-functioning achievers. The fear and doubt inherent in the IC confines us to a muted version of our best lives and keeps us from realizing our ideal selves.
And with that, let’s dive right in….
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Tanya’s Boss Mom Journey
Before becoming a mama, Tanya had a successful career in advertising. After her mom died the same year her daughter was born, she abruptly realized just how short life was and over the next few years more deeply recognized it may be time to make changes to live her most authentic life.
She went back to work full time after her daughter turned one, but hated being apart from her so much. She often thought back on her mom’s favorite mantra, “Don’t postpone joy.”
And so, she made a series of tough choices to leave her corporate career and start her own business. Though she describes experiencing countless trials, tribulations and calibrations, the reward was that she got to spend more time with her family and build a business that bring her an immense amount of joy.
How She Decided What to Do
When I asked Tanya how she decided what she was going to do after leaving her corporate job, and how what she started out doing has morphed into what it is now, she answered: I cried, sat on my hands and called in a bunch of people to help figure it out! (Sound familiar at all?!)
She’d never even heard of coaching until a friend of hers began doing it, and at that point she realized that she had a unique “thing” that she did for herself….and people kept coming to her for it.
As soon as she checked it ou and stepped into her coaching training, she recognized that this was what she’d been doing her whole life, and this was how she was going to step into her life’s work. She could finally see herself the way others saw her, which propelled her forward in her life and work.
A few years ago Tanya was invited to speak on owning your authority by TEDxWomen, dissecting the space in between what you see and what is real with regard to yourself.
She talks about encountering woman after woman who were skilled at internalizing failure, but incapable of internalizing success in the same way, which was keeping them stuck and never moving into the fullness of their potential.
“We’re never going to not experience bouts of fear, we’re never going to not experience bouts of the imposter complex when we are doing things that are deeply meaningful to us.” (16:26)
What imposter complex is and what it’s not
So what exactly is the difference between imposter complex that unjustly keeps us from going forward, and really, validly recognizing when maybe we aren’t yet totally qualified to step into something and need more time, training, experience, etc?
Tanya shares that there are 12 lies of the imposter complex that you need to identify and call out in order to recognize how they may be holding you back.
But here’s the reality, she says: there is always room for improvement, so you can’t let that disqualify you from doing things. She also says that, typically, the people who are struggling with IC are driven by values of mastery, integrity and excellence….which true frauds are not.
Lie #4 of imposter complex will also convince you that you have nothing useful, valid or original to say. When we believe this, we stay silent and lie low.
What we have to remember is that there is nothing new under the sun. What people need, what people want, is what YOU have. You are what is different about what you do.
You also need to remember that, if you’re focused on expansion, evolving and moving forward, fear is a pretty good litmus test for how meaningful this next step is for you. If the step you’re looking at doesn’t rattle your imposter complex, it’s probably not what you were looking to step into.
Referenced in the Show:
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