Tag Archives for " strengths "

Jan 31

Are you an imposter?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development

Do you ever feel that you’re not as competent as other people seem to think you are? That you’re going to be “found out”?  This feeling is quite common and is sometimes referred to as Imposter Syndrome.

Last year I attended a conference about inspiring women in business. As you would expect from this type of event, it included talks by business women who were undoubtedly successful. This included a talk by a massively impressive 29 year old CEO. Yet two of the speakers expressly talked about this “imposter” feeling, and they had clearly chosen to do so in the hope that it would help other women in the room.

And it’s not just women. I remember working with a man on this issue, quite early on in my coaching career. And in my own field of training and coaching I know the feeling of coming home from a training course that has received excellent feedback, yet focusing on the one slightly less positive comment.

If this resonates with you on some level, then what can you do about it? Here are some ideas that can help you build up your inner confidence, so it matches the outer.

Keep a record of strengths and achievements

Build up a foundation of belief in your own skills and strengths.  If you receive some positive feedback – write it down.  To kickstart the process of recording positive feedback, take a paper or online notebook, or open up a document, and write down everything that you are good at.  Think back to all the comments you have received in recent months. Go back over positive emails or messages and gather them in one place.

And record your achievements too, big or small, whether or not anyone else acknowledged them. If you know you did a good job, recognise and note it. As you do this you might feel some “yes buts” creeping in…  “Yes, it was a successful meeting but that’s because everyone else was so involved …”  (forgetting that it might have been because you planned and chaired the meeting so well).

We sometimes overlook our strengths because they may feel easy or effortless.  I now find it easy to facilitate a meeting, because it’s a strength. It’s something that I’ve learned to do, and it’s only when I notice that not everyone can do it so smoothly, that I realise it’s a strength and not a given.

This exercise of writing down strengths and achievement is well worth doing.  And then when imposter syndrome strikes and your confidence wobbles, go back and read what has been said.

See mistakes as part of learning

If you do make a mess of something, that doesn’t mean that you are incompetent as a person. It means that you have something to learn, and by recognising that, you can talk steps to change it.

Stanford University psychologist Carole Dweck has researched the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. If we have a fixed mindset, we assume that our intelligence and personality are hard to change.  If we have a growth mindset, we believe that we can change significantly throughout our lives.

If we tend towards a growth mindset, we are more likely to enjoys challenges that stretch and develop us, and view mistakes as an opportunity to learn, rather than confirmation that we are lacking. So a step towards greater confidence is developing the ability to genuinely see our mistakes as a part of learning and growing, and believe that we can change as a result.

Notice and let go of thoughts

I love the quote: “don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides”.  Other people see how you speak and behave, but they don’t know about the doubts that might be going through your head. And we all have doubts at some point in our careers. There is a time and space where it is appropriate to share these thoughts and feelings, with a friend, a coach or a supportive line manager. But in professional situations, we do need to learn how to manage them and not let them get in the way.

A thought that you are “not good enough” is just that, a thought. It’s not true unless you are trying to perform a job that is clearly outside your capability or skillset, which is something different. I’ve written before about meditation, and a daily mediatation practice can help you recognise that during the course of the day many thoughts pass through your mind, and you can learn to get better at noticing them, and letting them go.

Measure success by doing your best

In The Chimp Paradox, consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters has some interesting things to say about confidence and success. “If you measure success in life by effort and doing your best, then it is always in your hands to succeed and be proud of yourself.”   So if you prepare well for a meeting and give it your full attention, that can count as a success, even if the outcome isn’t quite as you would have wished.  And if you identify one thing you can do better next time, then this is useful learning.

Need a boost of confidence?

Confidence is an area I can help with through my coaching service. If you feel a lack of confidence is holding you back in your career or business, then why not book in a free consultation call and find out more.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit

Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Personal brand, woman in pink jacket
Apr 30

What does your personal brand say about you?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation

When you buy a professionally marketed product or service, you are interacting with a brand identity. Someone has taken time and trouble to work out whom they want to appeal to, and how to get their message across.

You can draw on similar ideas in presenting yourself professionally. This is sometimes referred to as personal branding. It is about taking a considered look at who you are, how you want to be seen, and how you can communicate this.  If you get this right, your external appearance and manner represents who you are on the inside – and who you are at your best. Looking good will not only help you feel confident, but will inspire confidence in you.

Your “brand values”

When marketers develop a company brand, they take into account the brand values, and you can do the same for yourself. What personal values and qualities do you wish to communicate? What effect will this have on your customers or clients? For example, a solicitor will always want to look smart and professional to inspire confidence, but this can be expressed in different ways. A family lawyer may choose a more relaxed way of dressing than a corporate lawyer, for example a smart dress rather than a formal business suit.

In my business, I would like to be seen as approachable, yet professional and a smart casual way of dressing takes me happily through most working situations.

You may prefer a tailored look, or a quirky look. Whatever feels like the real “you”. Even if your workplace is quite conventional, you may still be able to inject a bit of personality into your outfit with a tie, scarf or piece of jewellery.

Presenting yourself successfully

If you don’t feel 100% confident in the way you dress, it can be worth investing in a colour and style consultation. A good colour and style consultant will offer advice based around your lifestyle, and not try to impose a look on you. You may also find you save money by only buying clothes that really suit you.

It’s not just the visual element that makes up your personal brand. The way you walk, speak and present yourself is part of this. Simple tips to help inspire confidence include: taking a breath before you speak, paying attention to your posture, and being careful not to put yourself down when you speak.

Nurse in uniformYou may be presenting a different aspect of your personality at work to the one you share with friends and family, and therefore you may choose to dress differently. Wearing a uniform is an extreme example of this. A uniform is ultimately about stepping into a role and appropriate in some jobs. And your company culture may be reflected in an unofficial “uniform” worn by most people.

Dressing to suit your workplace culture is normal, but if your workplace image feels really alien or “not you”, then it may be that you would be happier in a different environment. So if you don’t feel comfortable in formal attire or a uniform, that in itself might say something about the kind of place where you want to work.

Ultimately, you can’t NOT send out messages about yourself from the way you dress, and from your posture and voice. A personal branding approach helps you to be more confident that the image you present is the right one for you.


Career Strengths
Nov 04

A strong way to find your ideal career

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

What are you good at? I mean REALLY good at?

An awareness of your strengths will help you to find or develop the right career path for you.

What are strengths

Strengths are ways of being and behaving that come easily to you, that tend to energise you, and that you enjoy. According to some theorists, strengths are a combination of your talents and skills.

Talents are innate. You will probably have displayed them from an early age, in different contexts.

Skills are learned competencies. They are things that you can do; that you have practiced and become good at, to a greater or lesser degree.

The power point is where the two overlap. As we go through life we develop a range of specialist and transferable skills that help us in our working lives, and allow us to take on increasingly challenging roles. But it is when we develop skills in our areas of natural strength that we can really shine. The right job or career for you is one where you can draw on your strengths most of the time. Not only will this make your working life more enjoyable, but will offer you greater potential for excellence and advancement.

So for example your skill-set might include research skills and writing skills, but what really energises you is when you combine this with a talent for engaging with others. As a result, a real strength might be working collaboratively to come up with creative ideas and concepts and then pull these together into a strategic plan.

How to identify your strengths

You might not always recognise your natural strengths as such, because they come so naturally to you. For example, do you find it easy to understanding how other people are feeling and to imagine yourself in their shoes? Do you thrive on taking charge of a situation and align others with the direction that you want to take. Are you naturally energised by competition and the chance to “win”? Do you find it easy to build and maintain deep relationships?

To identify your strengths, start by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What activities make me feel energised?
  • How do I naturally behave when I’m under pressure?
  • What have I always yearned to do?
  • What makes me feel good?

And ask others that you know, personally or professionally, to give their views too.

Your strengths and your career

When you honour your innate talents, and add in the life experience, knowledge and learned skills that make you unique, finding the right career path becomes a lot easier.

If you would like to find out more, the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 describes a robust strengths model based on extensive research from the Gallop organisation. And the book includes an access code for an online diagnostic, to identify your top 5 strengths.

And if you would value some impartial support with finding your career path, find out how  I can help.

Image courtesy of Colleen McMahon/Flickr

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit

Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.