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Beware the Imposter




Working in a fast moving world it is easy to feel that you are losing touch or not on top of everything. Working in learning and learning tech there are constantly new innovations and changes to get up to speed with and even where there are not someone has rebadged an old concept with a new Acronym and suddenly something you felt on top of, can feel less certain.


Now it is interesting to think about how we react in these situations. So let’s follow this through in a scenario. You are asked the following question in a work based situation:


“Hey (insert your own name here), What do you think about (insert term you have not heard of before).” How do you react?


What first pops into your head. Is this first thing doubt? Are you thinking why do I not know about this? Or is the first you do ask and seek to understand. Our initial response tells us a lot about how we feel about ourselves and how we view our worth.


Many of us have nagging doubts about how good we are at something or whether we deserve to be in the position we are in. Sometimes those doubts are driven by a desire for perfection or because we feel the need to compete with others. Sometimes it is because we might feel we lack either the experience or qualifications we should have.


We speak to many in our industry who feel imposter syndrome those people in organisations who are on the learning front line. Those trying to make a real difference in their organisations. As I get to know these people more I start to understand some of the reasons they feel this way. Whilst many reasons are highly person, others are contextual and relate to learning professionals across organisations and industries. I have pulled a few of these common factors together and if these resonate with you, you are not alone.

  1. Not feeling as concise and articulate as experts in the industry

  2. Not having the depth of knowledge shown by experts

  3. Feeling what they have achieved is not as groundbreakingly as in other case studies

  4. Not feeling confident in their understanding of abstract or new principles in learning

  5. Not feeling they have sufficient background or experience for their voices to be relevant

  6. Not feeling in control of their plan or strategy

  7. Worrying about the impact they are having

  8. Not feeling they fully understand the broader aspects of learning

So what can we do about overcoming these feelings?


Firstly take control of how you feel about these things. Begin to understand the situations and triggers that cause you to feel this way. What are the underlying causes and how can you reframe these. How can you come to terms which a desire for perfective or the feeling you need to know everything.


Secondly, put the things you see into perspective. Value your own experience and expertise. You do not have to compete with industry experts. They are often specialised in a specific area and spend considerable time honing and crafting their messages. As for case studies and the other examples you will see in marketing and social media. Think about the reason they are there. As with all things they are meant to put forward a positive view of a situation. As with any social media they may not be showing the whole situation.


Thirdly, embrace gaps in your knowledge, They are opportunities to learn more. If you don't know something ask? You may find you do know more than you think, you might just not understand a particular phrase or acronym. If not you will begin to understand more from a conversation.


Lastly, take steps to build confidence in your own ideas, You can write a blog or a post, comment on someone else's article. To start with you don't even need to submit or send. Maybe ask a question you would not normally. Maybe you can take part in a panel discussion, or be a guest on a podcast. There are lots of ways where you can build confidence in sharing your opinions and ideas, but as with all areas of development it takes effort and belief.


If you'd like to carry on the conversation or find out more about The Learning Effect email: info@thelearningeffect.co.uk

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