When I talk to leaders, I find out a lot of them struggle with feeling like frauds.
After all the work you do to succeed, do you sometimes still end up feeling like a fraud?
Recently my leadership capacities took a leap forward when I realized I was being a hypocrite. I was telling other people to speak the truth to their parents and I wasn’t standing up and speaking “my truth” to my dad on the subject of his smoking. As soon as I started dealing with that head on, I experienced more confidence in front of large audiences and in front of the camera. I know another great leader, who, despite tons of success as an internationally known fitness instructor, still felt like she didn’t really know what she was doing.
She opened up and began talking about it in front of her classes and realized she had been thinking her unique version of exercise was some how “less than” other more established brands. But, in revealing that, and re-thinking it, she realized that it was in fact even more special because it was different. But then there was this other compounding issue of updating her certifications, which she also admitted needing to do. Clearing that up, she experienced a whole new level of success and confidence. She stopped hiding her internal dialogue (which we all know is so often WRONG) and started telling the truth about her trials and triumphs as part of each class she led. As she made transparency her policy, she was forced to deal head-on with anything that was troubling her and was loved through her process by her students. The public nature of this type of leadership caused her to correct things in her life and to be an inspiration in ways she had only dreamed of doing “on her own” or with just a therapist.
What a gift to have “a public.” What an inspiration she was to her public. I know a spiritual leader, similarly, who was shocked and appalled to realize she was teaching a message of peace and acceptance, while regularly losing control with her young son and yelling at him. On some level, how could she not feel like a fraud? But we don’t say to ourselves “I am a fraud.” Instead when thinking of taking the next leadership risk, we think things like “I am just shy” or “I’m not good enough yet” or even “I don’t really want/care about that.”
The truth is, we DO want more and we DO care. Many of you have a vision for something you want to see happen. It could be a reconciliation or improvement in your family or in your marriage. It could be a better household system with your kids. It could be teaching the art of breathing or pottery or architecture or law to a group of students, or it could be working with a non-profit or company that has a local, national or global mission to fulfill. To get the job done, you need to be free to lead, confident in yourself, your ability and your right to command others to listen and follow you.
Consider that you want someone to follow your lead. In order to hold your head high and ask for that, you need to really trust yourself. The first step in building self-trust is telling the truth about where you are right now. If you are stuck in your leadership, ask yourself if you have one or more of the issues I brought up in my first three examples. – You might be a hypocrite on some level. – You might be unresolved about an incident that happened to you that clouds your view of what is possible. – You might be staying quiet about something you need to speak up about. When you start talking about it to others (truthfully) you are forced to deal with it.
Dip your toe in to this process by first confessing something on my blog: leave a comment, I’ll respond.