List 3 successes: coping with a crisis of confidence

(First published in Women Connect)

At risk mental health

Crisis of Confidence, Impostor Syndrome – call it what you will, it’s fair to say that we all confront a bashing of self-value that pushes us into fight or flight mode, which may manifest in different ways.

With global impacts such as Covid which comes with a whole lot of restrictions compromising our freedom and challenging our mental health our ability to brave each new day is already severely at risk, says executive coach, Frances Kazan.

“We are facing a tsunami of forces – political, economic, social, technological leaving a sense of disillusionment adding to our own psychological pressures,” Kazan says.

Bringing it down to the indvidual level, Yael Geffen, CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty SA, and mental health advocate, speaking at an entrepreneurs’ workshop presented the topic: Making It Without Faking It. This was her response to dealing with a crisis of confidence or CoC as she called it.

Truth and authenticity

Geffen said she would rather substitute ‘faking it’ for improvising. Faking has a tendency to overpromise and under deliver, “rather promote yourself with authentic confidence.”

Tiffany Markman, copywriter and trainer has a different take on ‘faking it (or not) till you make it’.  “The things we tell ourselves become our reality. Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to think things we don’t actually believe yet because, over time, it becomes harder to deny and easier to manifest.”

The “authentic confidence” that Geffen speaks of was backed up by statistics indicating that 86% of consumers like brands that are authentic (Stackla 2019) while 81% buy brands they trust (Edelman,2019) where transparency ranks highly.

Turning to LinkedIn profiles, Geffen said a descriptor like ‘7 x entrepreneur’ leads her to count all that person’s failed businesses, while ‘author’ should be reserved for the likes of Jefferey Archer. She said, “having a conversation with your cousin in Prague, did not give you the status of ‘global’ speaker.” These are exaggerated claims that don’t speak to your truth.

Self inflation makes you look small

“When we confront a COC ,we leak insecurity, self-inflate and look small,” Geffen says.

“Impostor Syndrome feels isolating and anxiety-provoking. But it’s also your pathway into expanded growth and outstretched confidence,” Markman says.“See it as a rite of passage.”

To check yourself on the self-inflation response, Geffen suggested doing an “MBA” My Bull…. Audit” with the help of an “NBF (no bull…) friend” to check for signs of inflating and arrive at your AQ (authenticity quotient).

Always come from a place of authentic confidence. For example on LinkedIn, Richard Branson lists himself as ‘Founder of Virgin Group’ – enough said.

“AQ is important in business today and that is your unique blueprint. Realise it’s okay to have a COC and treat it with humour. You will be okay.”

Markman says “No matter how experienced we are, we have a tendency to internalise failure. We tend to credit our successes to factors outside ourselves but our failures to our own wrong-doing or not being good enough.”

However, Markman says, being stuck in imposter syndrome or your crisis of confidence can destroy any ability to take credit for success, limiting your growth potential as well as your level of achievement.

“Unfortunately, being a successful entrepreneur is not a linear path. You don’t just work hard, fail, fail, fail and then succeed and continue to succeed for the rest of your career.”

Markman advised admitting to things you don’t know and not comparing your life to the highlights reel of everyone else’s (social media). “Allow your accomplishments to stand on their own.”

Geffen spoke strongly against false modesty and virtue signalling. “I’m talking about #humbled, #blessed … to be speaking at your event. That’s just ridiculous. Rather say, I’m so thrilled that you invited me…

Normalise rejection

“Talking about failure – de-personalising it – helps to normalise rejection and setbacks, making you less likely to blame yourself for missed opportunities,” Markman says. “Instead, you’re able to recognise that there are a number of reasons why you might not be successful in every venture.

“‘Shoulding’ demanding of yourself – I should do more marketing, work harder. publish more. study that book etc puts you into a ‘stuck’ mindset, not a growth mindset,” Markman adds.   

She said teaching someone else your skills was one of the best ways to work through impostor syndrome. It can be helpful to teach someone who is working towards career advancement. “Helping someone who is at the beginning of their journey can remind you of all the work you put in to get where you are now.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


One Response

  1. Thanks Iza. It doesn’t matter which approach, or combined or distillation of approaches one takes, being authentic is vital. I also love to fail. It means at least that you are doing something. The trick is to succeed more than 51% of the time. Do three things and fail once – you achieved two goals. Do 10 things and fail twice – who cares. You still achieved 8 goals. Doubled failures but quadrupled success. Failing is good, as long as you are actively striving to succeed.

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