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Imposter Syndrome: What I learned from my nerve-wracking public speaking experience

The distorted lens...when you clean the lens through which you see yourself, talents and purpose, you see the truth...and its powerfully divine.

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Pair of dirty glasses

I thought I was in the storm, but it turns out I was in the calm before the storm…

Barclays Bank asked me to talk to their business customers about worthiness and charging for services. It would be wrong to say I jumped at the chance because that wouldn’t acknowledge my fear of public speaking; however, I did agree, and I was enthusiastic.

I’d worked as a chartered accountant for many years, and I’d seen how the financial side of business put so much fear in business owners to the extent they’d go to great lengths to avoid it. The financial side should be straightforward, but, in reality, it brings many out in a cold sweat.

  • Not charging the price you want. 
  • Overdelivering and not being paid for the extra work. 
  • Procrastinating on sending out invoices; and
  • Avoiding cash collection. 

We all know it makes no sense to operate like this but can’t help it. I knew it wasn’t a business owners fault because the financial side of a business is emotive, our feelings get caught up in it, and these are often deep and unconscious. But no one was speaking about this. Instead, business owners would hide what was happening and even attach shame to it, causing sleepless nights and leaving money on the table.

I wanted to change this by shedding light on and addressing the root cause so that the financial side could run smoothly and cash would flow with ease. I intended to share all of this in my presentation, but presentations and public speaking are not my strong point. I’m an introvert, and I wouldn’t say I like being centre stage.

The build up

After several traumatic and humiliating experiences of speaking up as a child, I did everything possible to avoid public speaking. Even when I did a presentation for my counselling qualification, I presented whilst sat down because my legs felt like jelly.

With my Barclays presentation, I decided I would go for it. I’d create an excellent presentation packed full of value. I was determined to stand up, speak clearly and provide great content for their customers. I did lots of mindset work and visualised my talk flowing smoothly. I rehearsed it over and over again, even videoing myself and playing it back. I wanted it to be the best I could do.

The day of the presentation came…

And I felt physically sick. The room started filling up with attendees, and rather than greet them, I hid in the toilets wondering why the heck I’d agreed to it. I honestly wanted to run away, but I told myself to stay calm. All would work out. I was safe. I did my breathing exercises, gave myself a pep talk and went into the room. I stood at the front, all eyes on me; I wondered what on earth I was doing. I kept telling myself ‘I can do this’. Inside I felt petrified, yet my legs didn’t collapse, and my voice sounded clear. I couldn’t believe it.

When I finished my presentation, I asked if anyone had any questions, and I offered a free 20-minute consultation; the room was silent. Then everyone got up and walked to the back of the room for a glass of wine, or they left while I stayed stood at the front. My ex-boss came up to say, well done. I was so relieved because I felt utterly awkward stood at the front of the room on my own.

The team at Barclays thanked me and said they’d loved my talk. I was over the moon; I felt on such a high.

I’d done it! This was a massive breakthrough for me.

The aftermath

But the next day was a different story. The adrenaline had subsided, and the inner voice started.

  • “What did you think you were doing?
  • No one is interested in what you have to say!
  • You’ve made a fool of yourself.
  • No one wanted your free consultation. You can’t even give your work away for free!”

The voice was brutal. It went on and on and on. And I listened to it. Self-doubt set it. I felt like an Imposter, a fraud.

Who was I to be talking on this subject? What DID I know?

I had a psychology degree, and I was a chartered accountant. I’d left the accounting industry and retrained in various mindset and emotion methods, including advanced hypnotherapy; this was my field.

I’d even been getting great results with my private clients, including:

  • Increasing their prices.
  • Revamping their billing process.
  • Having the confidence to collect debts that had been outstanding for ages.
  • Charging for work they used to give away for free.
  • Sleeping through the night.
  • Feeling equipped to lead their business and more!

But none of this mattered. I didn’t feel good enough to talk on the topic, and I felt like a fraud. Despite my client results, I stopped sharing my work. It was painful.

What had meant to be a fantastic opportunity took me into a storm fest that I didn’t see coming I retreated. I felt low, unfulfilled and confused. On the one hand, I did know what I was doing, but at the same time, I had so much doubt.

Rising

I realised I needed to do more inner work because I wasn’t standing in my power, far from it. I used other techniques that I was trying out. I delved into what had really taken place when I retreated and what it was actually about. I began healing at a deep level. I could feel the belief in me emerging, and I felt different, my energy shifted.

In casual conversations with women I knew, I shared my story. Then not long after, these same women started contacting me to say that they resonated with what had happened to me; they felt the same and asked if I could work with them to shift their feelings of being an Imposter. At first, I was surprised. I was in complete awe of some of these women, and I would never have guessed the inner turmoil they were experiencing daily. Now, I’m not surprised by who contacts me and shares their story.

The women who became my clients ranged in age from mid-’30s to mid-’50s; they worked in different industries with businesses of varying sizes. But the inner turmoil and the root cause was the same.

It fascinated me that they had it all; they were talented, highly-skilled, motivated women yet struggled with self-doubt and their ability to lead their business; despite their success. They couldn’t see themselves as the experts that they were; their vision of who they were was distorted. They were constantly living in fear that any moment they would be rumbled for not knowing what they were doing, that they weren’t really a true business owner, that they were simply playing at it. It’s a debilitating way to live.

Now, I understand this topic so well; I get it. It doesn’t seem so bizarre when you get to the root cause; it actually all becomes clear. I created a one to one program called RISE designed specifically for the female owning her own business who wants to lead from her power. Seeing women finally own their talents and expertise is divine. I absolutely love it. Plus, I’m revamping my 4-week program, Worthy, to address the worthiness and cashflow challenges. Things are turning around for me.

The lessons and future

I now look back on my Barclays presentation, and I’m incredibly thankful for the experience I look at the photo above, and I see a brave, gorgeous woman who faced her fears. It was the catalyst to go even deeper on the transformational journey that I was already on, and it moved me further along in my evolution.

Though I realise now, I didn’t need to stop everything. I could have carried on even on a smaller scale while I worked through my inner stuff. But this did teach me how to build the inner work into daily life so my private clients can fit it all together into already busy lives without creating more overwhelm.

I understand why I reacted as I did. I had deep wounds that needed addressing. Otherwise, I’d have viewed the experience entirely differently.

I’d have assumed no one had any questions because my presentation had been so good. I would have believed no one came up for a free consult because they either didn’t desire my service or felt awkward coming up to me in public. I’d have carried on sharing my work. Getting my message in front of those who would have been so relieved to hear it. But I didn’t do any of those things because I was viewing it through a distorted lens.

I’m on a personal mastery journey, and I will continue to do inner work. I can unintentionally sabotage my success, but I spot it and know how to deal with it. I’ve come so far, and I’ll keep going. My mission is to work with and support other women who desire to lead from their personal power too.

If any of my stories resonates with you, know you are a smart, intelligent woman capable of leading your business from your power It’s simply that sometimes, life experiences haven’t been kind to you and distort how you see yourself, but it doesn’t have to be this way forever. You have the power within you to SEE the truth of you.

Kind of like when you’ve been walking around with smudges on your glasses not realising they’re there, then someone mentions it, you clean your glasses and suddenly everything looks more vibrant! You SEE things differently and wonder why you hadn’t done it earlier.

It’s never too late to clean your lens. Together we can RISE!

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