The Impostor is an Overachiever

Photo by Moo Kitty

Photo by Moo Kitty

Impostor syndrome can happen to anyone at anytime, and it can cause us to play small in our lives. Make us feel like we’re frauds. That stinks because there’s so much good that we can do when we’re living our values and using our strengths. Our inner critic—our saboteur—can eat us alive through its endless comparisons, need to please, and perfectionism. And then I read about what can derail leadership, and this statement stopped me in my tracks:

The impostor is an overachiever.

Ouch--overachieving is my norm!

Thankfully I’ve gained more awareness of my commitments (and over-commitments) and learned to evaluate how I spend my time against my values. I even managed to have an entire week where I was home each night not too long ago—that’s never happened. My husband and I started dating in college, and back then, I had evening classes and extracurricular activities that would have prevented me from being home. I was busy earning three Bachelors degrees, leading a professional engineering fraternity on my campus, and swing dancing socially. That was years and years ago, so like I said—overachieving is my norm.

It would be unrealistic to think that I’d cut my commitments in half and do a lot less. When I'm considering a new project or opportunity, the trick is to not choose from a place of fear, like I'm not enough. It helps my "yes" to be more meaningful.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Asking for What You Want

Photo by Angélica Portales

Photo by Angélica Portales

I had a realization earlier that struck me as funny.

I've been holding myself back.

Ok, that wasn't the funny part. It was my immediate next thought:

Of course I've been holding myself back--no one else can!

Who else would stop us from our dreams? If it's important to us, we'll find a way. And yet we stop ourselves, hinder ourselves, make things more complicated for ourselves.

I've had this notion that telling people what I want will cheapen "it" if I get it. Like because I had to ask or say something about it, it's less thoughtful or deserved when I receive it. Whatever "it" is. This isn't the same as not saying what you wished for when you blow out birthday candles. This adult version of not sharing what I wish for is holding me back in life!

Where are you holding yourself back?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Recognizing My Inner Eeyore

Photo by JD Hancock

Photo by JD Hancock

I am in Austin this weekend for the Co-Active Coach Fulfillment training class, and I've been learning about the Saboteur--the inner voice that says, "No, you can't change.  You're not good enough.  You should do this and not that."  It's the voice that makes you feel small and down on your abilities.  And given that Eeyore's Birthday Party was today in Austin, becoming aware of your "Eeyore mode" feels like a good metaphor for recognizing that your Saboteur is getting the best of you.

I was talking to a coworker the other day about my big audacious goals, and when I started talking about the HUMONGOUS effort it would take to make it happen, he called out my negative talk.  My Saboteur was telling me that my goals are too hard, too big, and would require too much change.  That the work required doesn't fit in my life right now.  That I can't do it.  "I'm still finding my way," my inner Eeyore said.  And my coworker challenged me to take a mini-vacation to find some quiet space for myself so I could think big and create.  Even that felt like an impossible challenge.

The very next day some things started to change for me at work.  Things are shifting to be more in alignment with what I want to do--without me pushing my agenda on the world.  I get to create and try the stuff I want to create and try!  And as I drove to Austin after work that day, my brain was full of ideas.  I wish I had been able to write them all down in the moment.  My stay in Austin has given me some of the break I needed to think big--the mini-vacation my coworker urged me to take.  There's more to come.  My Eeyore hasn't been forgotten, and he's certainly not gone; my goals are big and audacious and glorious, and that's precisely why I need to work on them now.

What is your Eeyore stopping you from doing?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.