There are some lessons in life that I seem to learn and re-learn, no matter how many times I go through the cycle. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist and this has sometimes lead to stress, unnecessary work and frustration. I have rationalised that my striving to give 120% (when people don’t even notice if I drop to 80%) is unnecessary and I need to “give myself a break” but somehow this keeps popping up. It is no doubt in my DNA.
It has been such a lesson and is quite a funny story. My eldest son, Alex has been on the other side of the world for nearly two years and was coming home for Christmas, bringing along his girlfriend. To say I have been excited has been an understatement (btw if my younger son Joe is reading this – we were looking forward to seeing you too!) I had been cleaning and tidying his room in readiness, buying bits and bobs, making the bed cosy (the cold will be a shock!). Yesterday I walked in and thought “Ooh that lovely air freshener will smell nice in here” … a final finishing touch.
So I sprayed and stood back, anticipating how welcoming the room was looking. To my horror, what appeared on the wall was a huge splatter of oily residue from the air freshener. No matter how hard I washed and scrubbed it persisted. Not in a position where it could not be noticed or hidden by furniture, I was faced with having to paint the whole wall. Why oh why could I not have just left it be?
In my professional life, not recognising when good is good enough has also happened and I wonder who else can relate to it?
- “Tweaking” and delaying a report until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed – rather than getting something out that will promote discussion and others getting involved
- Working on a design for much longer than anticipated, to get it “perfect” rather than relaxing before the delivery
- Adding more and more thoughts to a blog, when really there was not that much to say (gilding the lily?)
So with that last thought I will leave it here and encourage you all to give yourself a break and recognise when good is good enough. It is not a perfect world and sometimes you just need to be a little less perfect!
This blog is for anyone who has ever suffered from or is suffering from imposter syndrome, or thinks they are over it and yet at times something seeps through to imply otherwise.
I was prompted to draw this graphic after something I said last week and further inspired to write this blog after the person I said it to (Perry Timms) blogged an excellent blog entitled “Enough”.
We were in Warszawa (I have to write it this way, I am Polish after all and was accidentally born in the UK) and I was just about to open the Elearning Fusion Conference, when I explained to Perry the reason I had brought some postcards as give aways: I was not enough.
“Of course you are, you will be awesome” replied Perry (bless him!)
But would I be enough? Was I experienced enough? Was my message pertinent enough for the audience? Would there be enough interaction? Would there be enough content?
Let me tell you a little about myself and for those of you who know me, you will know that this is not me bragging (honest):
- I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology
- I was trained to be a VM instructor in the late 80’s in IBM
- I have 15 years experience in the soft skills learning arena (and a CIPD qualification)
- 9 years a business owner
- Published author
- Regular blogger
- Nearly 5000 followers on LinkedIn, 2500+ on Twitter and 2000+ subscribers to our monthly free resources
So the question I ask myself, is knowing all of this and that I was invited to open the conference with a 45 minute workshop in front of a large audience “Why am I not enough?” The simple answer is that “I am”, but let us unpack it further:
- I am enough because of the life I have lived and the experiences I have had
- I am enough because others see the gold in me that I see in others
- I am enough because I am imperfect and willing to learn
- I am enough because I am unique and my voice is not any other persons voice
- I am enough not because I have earned it, but because I exist in the world
- I am enough, just like each and every one of us is enough
And yet…… having worked though my imposter syndrome on many occasions, this creeps up. Does it keep me real? Stop me from getting too big for my boots? Serve any useful purpose? Maybe?
All I know, is what I say to many people who suffer from the same syndrome, from time to time: you are awesome…. talented…. unique…. amazing…. and have something unique to contribute, regardless of your situation. I truly believe this deep in my core and so if I can believe this for others, I have to believe this for me:
“I AM ENOUGH”
….. enough said!
For anyone wanting to know how the workshop went you can follow this link
Yesterday I had the honour and privilege to stand amongst giants in our industry. The place was Olympia, the CIPD L&D Show and it was the final session of the day – the IGNITE LAB. For those not familiar with this format, each person presents 20 slides in 5 minutes, with the slides automatically advancing every 15 seconds.
Having settled on a topic, “How to be Agile in L&D”, I created some hand drawn slides and I pretty much thought it was going to be a doddle. The nearer it got to the day and the more I practised, the more I realised how hard it was. Give me a day or half a day to facilitate some learning and that’s not a problem, but 5 minutes to just present! It felt very unnatural and forced and the nerves were starting to kick in.
As the line up for the IGNITE LAB was revealed, we engaged in an exchange on Twitter where we shared similar feelings and the nerves were apparent. Some suggested they were going to use prompt cards, which I had ‘discarded’ as an idea, but when Julie Dryborough assured me I could “distill” the essentials in this way (I was waffling quite a bit in my practice runs), it convinced me to to do the “practice, tweak, repeat” advice offered by Niall Gavin.
Having tweaked, distilled, honed and transferred my notes to prompt cards , I was set. It felt much more comfortable knowing I would have the right words to fit the 15 second maximum for each slide.
So here is how it the event unfolded for me (in order) for me:
Niall Gavin – opened beautifully, with a heart-felt (see what I did there?) story relating to redundancy. No cards just him some slides and a great story.
Sukhvinder Pabial – followed. Confident, articulate and ever the professional, spoke about marginal gains and how we in L&D could take the lead front eh British Cycling team to improve L&D’s performance.
Krystyna Gadd – once I was up there and looking into the whites of their eyes (there were so many lovely people that I knew there!) I couldn’t look at my prompt cards. The slides progressed and it all came flooding back to me. Note to self next time – ditch the cards and fly solo!
Andrew Jacobs – popped his IGNITE cherry and did a sterling job beginning with learning not being built on firm foundations
Marco Faccini – amazed us all that he had rewritten his presentation that afternoon, making it real and showing us the money!
Amanda Arrowsmith – was unfairly plagued by the PowerPoint gremlins and Julie Dryborough volunteered to advance them but not before “ghosting it”. My hat goes off to Amanda who was neither shaken nor stirred by all that seemed to happen (or not) – a veteran deliverer presenting an engaging and memorable session!
Blake Henegan – rocked his first IGNITE, challenging us to be kinder to ourselves by reflecting and connecting more and thus reducing overwhelm
Julie Drybrough– wowed us on creating a thriving culture by lighting up the shadows and understanding our git self. Sounds like good advice!
Phil Wilcox – what an amazing ending to the session with a poem about “Who am I?”- you are officially awesome Phil, be you!!
What was lovely, was being amongst these L&D giants, sharing our vulnerabilities, cheering each other on and applauding the achievement of “just” speaking for 5 minutes though 20 slides… easy eh….. we did good!
And we are all available for future speaking engagements at a very modest fee…..lol
Storify of the tweetage care of Donna Hewitson
Whatever profession you are in, there will be things that drain you and things that fill you. In the L&D profession, I feel that it is important to be able to inspire people and wonder, if you are “drained” how is that ever going to happen?
In the last few weeks I have learnt lots from unexpected places and had a chance to reflect on how I normally “do things”. In these reflections, I have come to ponder on which things take a lot of effort and may drain me, as opposed to some things requiring no effort and invigorating me.
Last week I was at Learning Live in London and it took virtually no effort as I:
- Was not exhibiting
- Was not leading a session
- Was helping point people to the Creativity Zone (easy peasy!)
- Took the train down and was able to chill out by reading
- Stayed in a serviced apartment virtually across the road
Things that really invigorated me were:
- Scribbling some of my thoughts on the various sessions onto my iPad and sharing with people
- The subsequent feedback I got about my “scribblings”
- Chance conversations that I had with people at some of the sessions
- Reconnecting with people I knew and had not seen for a while
- Connecting with people I had only ever connected with virtually
- Little “nuggets” I gleaned from the speakers that will make a difference to me
- Having time out to just “be” and stop “doing”
So this has made me think about what I consciously do in my normal working week to keep “filled” and sustained, rather than feeling drained by the end of the week. The collage above contains all those things which “fill” me:
- Great views
- Felting (the wet and dry types!)
- Being with my family and friends
- Having great learning experiences with clients
- Having an outlet for my artistic cravings
So my intention, is that at the start of every day/week I plan in those things that keep me topped up and sustained, and intersperse them with those essential things that I need to do, but do drain me. I love to be inspired and I hope that this helps me inspire others to learn, so I am committed to giving this a go…. will let you know how it goes….
I am not often impressed so much by a speaker that is prompts me to blog about them, but this is the case with Dominic Colenso, who was keynote speaker at the CIPD Northern Area Partnerships conference at York Racecourse June 17th-18th. Dominic’s presentation (though it was much more than just presenting!!) was engaging, enlightening, involving and informative. I can honestly say that I was not bored for one minute….. and I learnt some good stuff, well enough to be able to tell my husband about it all.
Now anyone who knows Dominic also knows that his specialist subject is communication and the subject of his presentation was in fact about 5 key elements to great communication, using his acronym “SHINE”. It stood for:
When someone puts themselves up as an expert in any field, it does open them up to deeper scrutiny and he definitely delivered! 100% . So it made me think…..on any stage, forum or public arena, we all need to ask ourselves “Are we doing, what we are asking others to do?”
If we are falling short, will our message have less of an impact? Will the message get lost as people scrutinise our own behaviour? So if you are a leader and that could be in any number of arenas, not just a work context, when you “Talk the talk”, do you follow up by “Walking the talk” so everyone can see?
Have you ever been in a situation where you have thought “What happened there? This was not in my plan”. This has been a funny week… Not laugh out loud funny, but strange funny. Firstly a trip to Shanghai was postponed. This meant a frenetic 10 days of activity came to a sudden stop and life took on a slower pace. Time to go outside into the garden, hang out the washing, bring it in…… big mistake…a split second error in judgment and balance meant I spent a big portion of the morning at A&E, getting my painful, swollen knee examined.
No broken bones, but newly made plans now in tatters and a pair of crutches for support. “Never mind”, I consoled myself, I can write, make phone calls, plan and design for the coming weeks….. Ever the optimist and making the best out of a bad situation.
I am definitely not superstitious, but the third thing to happen was losing my voice…… Bringing me not into a silent world, but one where I have become an observer: watching, listening and waiting for things to happen. Being immobile and without a voice is a temporary state for me and I look forward to my recovery. It has however, made me think of others for whom immobility or not being heard is a permanent state.
So I will consider and pray for those who are immobile: either physically or stuck in an unexpected rut, caught in a life they never expected to be in. I will ponder those who have no voice; either because no one is listening or they are unable to vocalise what their needs are.
As I have had time to think,I will be making a mental note to myself:
- Don’t crave the busyness but savour the still quiet moments; this is where life happens and friends connect
- Listen carefully to others but hear what they are not saying and cannot say
- Help others, whenever you can, to move, from where they are, to where they should be
- Use your gifts unsparingly and be as generous as you can be
So the wind was definitely taken from my sails this week, as the saying goes, but life’s lessons can always be used in other ways to enrich, not only your life, but others too.