Posts tagged with ‘workplace performance expert’

05 nov

7 Signs You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome

Kerrigan2“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” —Meryl Streep

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou

“I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”—Will Smith

If you’ve ever felt like this, then welcome to the club — the Impostor Syndrome Club. Obviously, you’re in good company.

The impostor syndrome is known to afflict not only the rich and famous but many successful executives as well. Primarily career-based and achievement-driven, it is a phenomenon where people are unable to own their accomplishments or value, despite evidence to the contrary.

The sufferer has a nagging fear of being found out as a fake and a phony, as if they’ve fooled everyone into believing that they are competent. Any and all success feels completely undeserved and dismissed as luck, timing, or something other than talent, intelligence, hard work, and perseverance. Many professionals have a respect that they feel is not earned, and a title that they feel they don’t live up to.

Some experts say it’s cultural; some say it’s psychological. This expert (and sufferer) says, “Who cares?” It’s painful and chronic. It’s the most awful, sinking feeling that is the height — and depth — of insecurity.

Although everyone feels doubt and anxiety at times, this syndrome causes a constant cycle of shame and embarrassment, and manifests in self-defeating thoughts that amount to one thing: “I am not worthy.”

And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie—and they lie often.

Understanding this an important step in letting go. By recognizing the lies we tell ourselves and challenging them, we gain perspective, clarity, and confidence.

So–How do we lie to ourselves?

1. You tend to focus on the one thing that’s wrong rather than what’s right.

When I was hired to lead operations for a technology startup, I was brought onboard for my leadership and operations skills: my ability to structure and unify a team, point them in the right direction, and execute strategy. Yet, my focus was my abysmal lack of technology skill. I was beating myself up constantly over this one point. The fact that I had a long, successful career was lost on me. I was too busy feeling defective.

We are drawn to and focus on the negative instead of the positive. Anxiety and fear just seem to feel more natural to us, and often, become habit. Whatever we focus on only intensifies, so try focusing on the good.

2. You think it’s too easy — that anyone could do it.

I have a friend who is terrific at technology. He can write code, design websites, repair computers, and do a million other techie things. I think he’s amazing. He thinks a monkey could do it. When you know what you’re doing, it seems effortless. And it is — to you. What you may think is nothing is really something to someone else.

We don’t understand that certain things come more naturally for us, and not for others, and so we devalue our gifts. Never assume that your own unique talents are easily duplicated.

3. You think it has to be difficult to be worthwhile.

Some of us are taught this at an early age by struggling for love and attention from one or both of our parents. They withhold love until we prove ourselves worthy. Since their love and approval means everything to us, we think that we have to fight for everything worthwhile in life. In fact, sometimes, we over complicate things just to compensate for anything that should be easy. It’s exhausting, and time to stop.

Forgive your parents. They were doing their best and relying on what they were taught. Because the lies we tell ourselves are often inherited, forgive yourself, too.

4. You believe that what you’re doing is never enough.

In trying to satisfy that inner need for recognition, we set unrealistic expectations. We also compare ourselves to others and think that we have to struggle to measure up. This paradigm means that we can only feel worthy when we are achieving, as that’s what it takes to get positive attention.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Keep A-Players Productive,” Steven Berglas discusses the “extraordinarily punishing superegos” of over achievers such as Winston Churchill, who “voluntarily push themselves to extremes.” Churchill was enormously self-critical, reviewing everything in his head that he failed at, a ritual he learned at a young age from his abusive father.

Often, our self-critical, punishing voice is not our own, but one we’ve heard, loved and trusted more than our own selves.

We forget that no one is all achieving, in all possible ways, all the time.

5. You need the secondary gains, because you get something out of staying this way.

Often, we stay in the impostor state for a reason — even if we’re unaware of it. Sometimes, it pushes us to do our best work. In fact, I would hazard to guess that it’s the motivation that drives Maya Angelou each time she sits down to write a book. We become our own competition, always playing against ourselves.

I tended to prepare myself for failure, so it wouldn’t hurt as much if it actually happened. After the traumatic experience of getting laid off from a job I had and loved for years, I would protect myself with this psychological safety net.

6. You’re not in the moment because you’re too busy feeling and not doing.

When we allow our thoughts to wander, we can often over-think, over-analyze and feel lost. It is then that we see only the emotional and not the practical, and our overly-conscious selves can throw us off — and possibly out — of our game. We’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment, and that’s where we really need to be.

Sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

If we allow ourselves to be too self-conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment. For impostor syndrome, doing is the best antidote. When we’re in the doing, we have no time to criticize ourselves.

7. You don’t have perspective, and need to take a step back.

Perspective matters. It’s like a Monet painting—up close, it seems like a bunch of wild brush strokes that don’t seem to make sense, but from a distance, their true beauty and value are revealed to us. So it can be with our own lives and careers.

We often de-value the positive impact we have on others. If it was someone else’s life, we could see it objectively. It took me a long time to see the value I brought to many companies and clients. I finally realized that if I saw someone else who had my career, I would think, “Wow, that’s terrific!” And now, I do.

Here’s the thing about impostor syndrome: We have a limited amount of time on this earth, and it’s our choice what we do with it. So, why rob yourself of happiness and fulfillment?

Whatever we focus on the most will intensify, so focus on the good. It’s what we tell ourselves that really matters, so stop lying to yourself. Challenge and change those thoughts, so you can change your life. It is a wonderful life, after all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

For over three decades, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients excel in the workplace and grow in the marketplace. She is an expert in developing the practical skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. With extensive leadership experience and practical mastery in operational excellence, Michelle is a powerful resource for navigating change, conquering fear and doubt, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective leadership and teamwork, higher efficiency and revenue growth. In addition, Michelle writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and produces a series for public TV, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on November 5th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 oct

The 8 Startup Keys to Confidence

Kerrigan2At a recent MIT Enterprise Forum, I was asked for confidence tips to help startups.

For over three decades, I have helped people become more confident and successful at work. Success depends largely on our ability to grow and change without feeling vulnerable or resistant in the process.

Here are 8 key tips to start:

1. Know your value: How does your product or service improve your clients’ or customers’ condition? Many entrepreneurs experience anxiety in selling their ideas, but when you focus outwardly on how you help others, it builds confidence in you, your company and your audience.

2. Be able to convey that value in human terms: Don’t sound like a presentation, resume or speech. Again—think outside yourself. Think of your audience. Use terms to help them envision successful outcomes.

3. Understand that everything is marketing, so become socially savvy: Real business happens face-to-face, so you need to feel confident in building rapport, relationships and trust. These are important with investors and clients, and are the hallmarks of leadership too.

4. Remember that no one succeeds alone: Reach out and up for help. ASK. It’s OK to not know. Success is always a team effort. Whether it’s your family, friends, co-workers, or coach—we all need support. When you get answers, you help yourself, your team and your business. You become a problem solver, not a problem generator.

5. Learn self control: Confidence comes from self control. You cannot control what happens to you. The only thing you can control is you—your thoughts and how you react to things. Also, learn to release control of those things at which you don’t excel. That’s how you build teams and business.

6. Trust instinct and common sense over technology: Hone and use your ability to interact. To listen and comprehend. To read a room and the street. Don’t let handheld devices replace your instinct, and allow social media to replace social grace, and distraction to replace engagement.

7. Kick the perfection addiction: The wonderful–and terrible–thing about technology is that you can make changes easily, so don’t over-think, over-analyze and over-finesse everything. Move forward by prioritizing according to the revenue line, market share, and customer satisfaction.

8. Believe in yourself: Confidence comes from the inside out. If you don’t believe in you and your company, how can you expect others to? One great saying is, “The first sale is to yourself.” Amen.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps growing businesses and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity. Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. This results in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth.

In addition, Michelle writes and speaks on the role self esteem plays in achieving success and produces and hosts a series for public television, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on October 24th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

01 aug

How to Stop the Self-conscious Strikeout and Hit a Career Home Run

Kerrigan2As many of my readers know, I recently started filming a local TV series called Workplace Confidence.

It’s been quite a learning curve and a test of confidence, with a few self-conscious fast balls thrown in.

First, there’s having to open the show on cue, and trying to sound relaxed. Hearing “30 seconds to go” and then seeing the silent cue “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and a finger pointing straight at me (with a red light flashing) signaled my first time up at bat. Talk about anticipatory anxiety?! I did OK, but was so scared of forgetting my lines, that it felt forced and uncomfortable.

Strike one.

Then, there’s me, seeing and hearing myself on the playback, and thinking, “God—my nose is huge (and too shiny),” “I sound so nasal and New Yawk-y,” and “Thank heavens this show is only on local public TV.” My fear of my next show was already growing.

Strike two.

Next, there’s the criticism and the comments. My mom: “Gee—you’re dressed in all black. It looks so harsh.” My studio manager: “You have to watch those crutch words, like ‘you know’.” And, my close friend: “Well, you’re better than Honey Boo Boo.”

Strike three! I can’t do this show. I’m out!

It’s at times like these that, if we’re not careful, our overly-conscious selves can throw us off—and possibly out—of our game. It’s good to be aware, but when we overdo it, we’re aiming our bat at our self esteem and not at the ball that’s coming straight at us.

In other words, we’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment. And, that’s where we really need to be.

I’m reminded of the late, great, sports psychologist, Harvey Dorfman, who helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future.

He understood how self consciousness could really screw up performance, and even had to help baseball pros dress in the locker room when they were frozen in anticipatory fear.

Dorfman felt the vast majority of issues players had to face came from getting ahead of themselves in game situations, causing feeling to interfere with function. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

He said that the tendency of the eyes to move ahead of objects they are tracking could lead to an over swing by the batter, as he over thinks, gets ahead of himself, and loses focus on where the ball actually is.

This doesn’t just happen to professional baseball players. This happens to all of us as well.

If we allow ourselves to be too self conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment.

I remembered this the next time I entered the TV studio, and as I opened the show, I got in the moment. I didn’t get ahead of myself. I focused on what I was doing and nothing else. No comments, no criticism, no fear.

The studio manager told me afterwards that he was shocked at how strong I sounded as I came up to the plate.

I saw the ball and hit the ball. I stopped being too self conscious. And no matter what anyone else thinks—including me—it was a home run.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps corporate and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need to improve their performance and productivity. Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on August 1st, 2013 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

11 jul

WorkplaceRx: The Question Mark of Confidence in Dealing with Risk

Kerrigan2“Risk is made up of probability and seriousness, minus preventive actions and contingency factors”—Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting

“The lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk”.—Michelle Kerrigan

Operations of the day-to-day workplace comprise roughly 80% of most organizations, making them one of a company’s largest investments and indispensable to business results. Because of their size and varying stages, they are complex systems with a lot of moving parts that can go awry, and often do.

This is a prime target for probable and serious risk.

And, yet, it is often overlooked. Actually, “avoided” is a better word. I know, because it’s the space I’ve worked in for over 25 years. By the time senior management calls me in to do repair work, the damage has already been done. Time, money and momentum have been lost, causing delays, dissatisfaction, and overall frustration.

Now—here’s what I find interesting: once I begin to ask executives questions, the response is invariably the same: their eyes glaze over and they begin to shut down.

I’ve realized that most of the executives I’ve encountered don’t have the confidence to ask questions. Often, this crisis of confidence is passed down to the team, eventually resulting in serious repercussions. They ignore, avoid, evade, and sidestep until all hell breaks loose.

Most of my success has come from asking the questions nobody likes to ask. It has always been my way to diagnose and fix problems. Asking questions minimizes the probability of risk as well as the seriousness.

Whenever I assess a new operation, I closely observe the day-to-day, and sit side-by-side to interview members of the team. I find out what they do and how they do it, and am very curious about the why and when as well.

Here are some of the questions I ask:

Do you have a to-do list? What processes do you use?

What’s your responsibility in the process? What comes before you and where does it go from here?

What are your most important job functions?

How do you prioritize?

How do you follow up and monitor progress?

Who are you accountable to?

If you don’t know the answer to something, do you ask?

What happens when you ask questions?

Responses to these questions tell me a lot—especially the last two. When employees, line managers and leaders hedge, hesitate or can’t answer simple questions, I know something is wrong.

I’ve found that the lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk.

Here are a few examples of the problems which can develop:

Sales are lost because people and process fail to deliver.

Delays are caused by ignored or missed deadlines.

Projects frequently lose direction.

Customers and clients complain more frequently (and loudly).

The number of costly errors increases.

Revenue decreases.

People who fear asking questions avoid realistic issues that could impact their organization. The only probability they try to prevent is being judged negatively. That’s the risk they’re focused on.

Lacking the confidence to ask impacts not only preventative measures, but contingency plans too. They both have to do with a proper assessment and appropriate use of questions.

And here’s the amazing thing: when all hell does break loose, corporate contingencies are invariably inappropriate: firings and exhaustive autopsies begin. It is then that executives decide to ask questions!

But the damage is already done.

So—get confident with asking. It forces you to acknowledge that you don’t have the answers, and that’s the beginning of solutions.

The greater risk is taking no risk at all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who, for over 25 years, has been helping businesses and private clients develop the skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. Michelle also writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and currently produces and hosts a series for public TV entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on July 11th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

04 may

Workplace Confidence: Quick Tips in Career Confidence

Kerrigan2I spoke at SUNY Purchase recently, and it was painfully obvious how much students need help as they get ready to enter the corporate world.

So, here are a few quick tips from that discussion:

—Always reach out and shake hands when you are meeting someone for the first time, and look them in the eye. Eye-to-eye contact establishes trust. And dress appropriately–-meaning business attire. Companies see you as an extension of their brand, so they want someone who will represent them well.

—In today’s business world, most professionals will experience change at alarming rates, and will probably change careers multiple times. So, as you are your own brand (You Inc.), from your very first job to your very last, you want to make a great impression on everyone you work with. I recently ran into a top executive I worked with at Sony who I haven’t seen in years. He didn’t remember my name right away, but he beamed because he remembered how he felt about working with me—terrific! My brand brought back good memories for him, and he immediately asked for my card.

—Never think you’re too good for any job you start in. No matter how menial, you want to do your best and leave a good impression. You never know if you will meet these same people later in your career. Trust me–it happens. So, don’t have an attitude of “I’m too good for this position.” Take it for the experience it is—have more gratitude than attitude.

—There is opportunity everywhere, so be open and receptive! I know of a consultant who was asked to speak at a meeting that he thought inconsequential. However, he decided to do it as a favor. There was a woman in the audience who liked his message and hooked him up with her husband. P.S.: That little speech brought him 400K worth of business.

A lot more came from that talk—look for more tips to come!

And–good luck out there!!!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All rights reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle also writes and speaks about the impact self esteem has on success, and is currently working on a series for public TV about workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 4th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,