How to stop feeling like a total fraudBy Dr Gemma Munro | Jun 14, 12 09:30 AM
If you feel like a fraud ... chances are you are!
Would you like to know the second most common question I hear in a coaching session?* It comes out quietly, almost in a whisper, and with a frightened glance to the side in case someone overhears this deep, dark confession. It is:
‘What if they work out that I am a total fraud?’
I have been asked this question by outwardly confident and successful CEOs as well as younger employees who have been handpicked as the best and brightest in their organisations. And, when I first started dabbling in the Sport of Coaching (while maintaining a Serious Career as a Management Consultant), my view on the total fraud problem was significantly different to my present view. ‘Everyone feels like a total fraud now and then’, I would assert. ‘You’re clearly doing a magnificent job in your current role’. And then we would discuss strategies designed to boost self-confidence.
At that point in time, I certainly felt like a total fraud on a fairly regular basis. Before client presentations I would wonder why on earth any CEO would listen to me, this young-ish blonde-ish short-ish chick from Adelaide. If my boss called I would send a hasty prayer skyward to please, please not let me sound like a total idiot. I spent many a night’s sleep worrying about the next day, and the daft fool I could reveal myself to be. And then I stopped. I stopped the moment I quit being a Serious Management Consultant and realised that, holy eureka, Batman, I was meant to be a coach and a facilitator – full-time. I can honestly say that I have not thought anything along the total fraud line since I stopped thinking of myself as a management consultant and started spending my working days coaching and facilitating. Lest you think me overly cocky and hence excruciatingly annoying, I hasten to add that it’s not like I’m always skipping happily on the sunny side of Easy Street. I still have tired and grumpy moments at work. But the fear of being discovered as a total fraud has disappeared entirely.
Recently I picked up the phone and called all the people I know who have discovered what they adore doing and made it their life’s work. I asked them if they ever felt like a total fraud. They said no. I asked them if they ever had in the past. Most said yes – when they were working in a different profession.
So here’s what I’m thinking. If you feel like a total fraud, it’s because you are. I do not mean that harshly – why, I know that you are positively brilliant at what you do. I bet your employer, colleagues and/or clients adore the knickers off you. But you’re not meant to be doing what you’re doing. You’re meant to be doing something else, something you are not only brilliant at but love with every fibre of your being. Something you love so much that, if every single person on this planet besides you spontaneously carked it, you would still choose to do it. Another possibility is, of course, that you’re doing the right job - but in the wrong place.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Our perfect career is found in whatever gives us pure, unswerving pleasure. If you’re not sure what it is, just start doing little things you love to do. Then do more of them. Then spend every single day in pursuit of what you enjoy doing. Read for pleasure. Exercise for pleasure. Write for pleasure. Eventually, that perfect career will land in your lap – and holy eureka, Batman – never again will you feel like a total fraud.
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Gemma Munro is an Adelaide-based coach and facilitator and the Director of Inkling Coaching. Gemma has a PhD in performance psychology and ten years' experience working with business leaders to maximise their performance and enjoyment at work.
If you’re interested in building your confidence and skills as speakers, Gemma is running her Speakeasy program on June 18-19 in Adelaide and is offering a great discount for Business Chicks members. Speakeasy is a two-day workshop for a small group of women who want to communicate more confidently, effectively and authentically. The program is designed specifically for women who are smart, self-motivated and positive in outlook, but who believe that they do not show their full potential when speaking to a group. More info here