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Do you fear being “found out”?

Dealing with that inner critic

In business and in life in general, many of us can lack self-esteem and confidence. Career men, and women in particular, often feel they are in a position through sheer luck. And both sexes may fear being “found out”, particularly the ‘higher up’ they go.

Ironically, in this world of high achievers, go-getters and fast-lane-flyers we fail to see and give credit to our success and the reasons behind it. The female of the species may outperform her counterpart in school but later on, when aiming for top positions and salaries men win hands down with women occupying just under 10% of FTSE 100 executive roles.

Many of us short change ourselves because of the negative messages we pick up on. We selectively attend to the ones that back up our belief that we are not quite good enough and we ignore evidence to the contrary. Those of us who suffer from low-self-esteem, when paid a compliment may remark, “…yes but, they’re only being nice”. The genuinely paid compliment goes against our inner critic and so it is tossed aside in preference for the more familiar feeling “I am not good enough!”

It is this inner critic that stops us going for a promotion or salary increase. Let’s be honest – how often do we have a great idea and then think “I couldn’t do that”, or go to make an arrangement to catch up with someone thinking “I am sure they are too busy for me…”? Perhaps we dread walking into a situation for fear of what others may think.

Interestingly, our capacity to be drawn towards the negative has developed to keep us from harm. Humans evolved constantly on the lookout for threats from predators and enemies. This instinct, developed for own survival still continues, even though real dangers these days are rare. We still look for the faults in a situation much more readily than we notice the positive.

Worryingly, our biggest predator in business and in life, can be our own self-talk. Would you speak to a friend the way you speak to yourself? Probably not. Catch your inner critic when it rears its ugly head and ask yourself what your best friend would say to you? What would you say to someone else in a similar situation? It is probably far more encouraging and loving. So why not be kinder to yourself and tell yourself this is real, this success is down to you. Rather than worrying about being “found out”, focus on being discovered for the incredible person you really are.