To the outside world, you’re accomplished and successful, yet internally you have nagging doubts that your ideas and skills aren’t worthy… Many of us have an inner voice telling us we’ve made it by sheer luck or that we’re a fraud – the issue is when we believe these feelings of fraudulence. Self-doubt is normal, and we need to remember that we’re not alone in doubting ourselves.
Even after writing eleven books and winning several prestigious awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape the nagging doubt that she hadn’t really earned her accomplishments. Albert Einstein experienced something similar: he described himself as an ‘involuntary swindler’ whose work didn’t deserve as much attention as it had received.”
There are two broad categories of this feeling: the first when we are skilled (sometimes referred to as Imposter Syndrome) and the second when we’re new to something or lack competence. Read more to explore these, based on ideas from Elizabeth Cox, Tania Katan and Mike Cannon-Brookes. We share some techniques to manage the feelings of inadequacy, and conclude with a video of a humorous talk by Mike sharing his experiences.
"My interest in maths began at a young age as I was blessed with having a maths teacher as a mother who made education a primary focus. At the time, though, it felt like a curse every time she ripped out my homework and said: "do it again, but this time properly". Looking back, this contributed to my determination and perseverance, skills which helped me complete the actuarial exams years later.
While guiding our proteges through their careers, we come across challenging work situations which have the potential to worsen or completely derail a business relationship. Constructive (win-win) conversations are the ideal, but sometimes there are clashes and misunderstandings, perhaps rooted in differences in personality or values between individuals, or cultural norms.
One of our members recently shared an assessment she had previously done and told us how it helped her and her colleagues to understand each other better, especially in more stressful situations. It focuses on situations when an apology is given, and we agree that it can help to make sense of what different people expect from a sincere apology (as well as understand what you yourself like to hear from others).
The challenge is that “I’m sorry” can contain different layers of meaning depending on who is saying it, and more verbal explanation is often needed – others can’t infer what you specifically mean unless you explicitly tell them. To help smooth relationships, Dr Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas developed the 5 Apology Languages, based on their extensive discussion sessions with their customers, building too on their previous research.
When working with other people, wires can get crossed, tension can arise, and feelings can get hurt. Learning to move beyond these moments of frustration is crucial for collaboration. Specific and sincere apologies can go a long way to averting ‘sad, sad situations’. Read more to discover the 5 apology languages: adapting your approach to take genuine account of your co-workers’ apology preferences can help to smooth things over faster.