Have you ever considered stepping up to lead, but didn’t? What held you back? Often is the lack of belief in our own skills and abilities that holds us back from stepping up to lead.
Ever felt out of your depth or you were just pretending to be good at something? And if anyone ever found out, well, they’d discover you are a big ol’ fraud?? Sound familiar? There’s a psychological term for this feeling- Impostor Syndrome.
It’s doubting your own skills, abilities and achievements, and a fear of being “found out” as not good enough.
I used to think that this was a valid feeling (despite what my lovely husband would tell me). I was just being realistic about my abilities, right? But then I discovered that this feeling had a name and was very common, especially among women. Not just “I’ve taken on something and I’m out of my depth” type women, but women who to those around them appeared powerful, confident and competent.
In fact, it is estimated that a whopping 70% of people (male and female) will experience at least one episode of Impostor Syndrome in their lifetime.
It’s a complex issue, tied in with things such as perfectionism, fear of failure and being cripplingly modest about one’s own achievements. And it can hold us back from aiming high and chasing our desired goals, particularly if our efforts will be visible to others, like a career change or taking on a leadership role. You may think ‘who am I to lead?’, or ‘what can I offer?’. But the truth of the matter is, as a mother, you will have skills and abilities to offer, and you are already leading whether you know it or not.
You may still be thinking ‘I could never be a leader!’. The truth is you are already a leader – of your household. Mums are often the main caregiver and set the tone of the household. We lead by example in how we use manners, apologise when we mess up, and do the less than fun ‘necessary’ jobs like cleaning the toilet and ironing (or whatever your most loathed chore is). Whether we like it or not, our little ones follow our lead in how they treat others, what they will value and prioritise, how they serve others, and generally how they will live their lives as they grow.
Think about what you are good at, and your current skill set. Ask those who know you best, and they will be able to highlight skills, talents and achievements that you may not have thought of, or properly considered before. Sometimes, as stay-at-home mothers, we underplay the skills this requires because it’s not graded or recognised by others. It takes planning to get a newborn out the door in-between feeds with a fully packed nappy bag. Dealing with toddler tantrums takes empathy, patience, and often conflict management and negotiating skills. Whether we realise it or not, we continue to develop valuable and transferrable skills.
Maybe you’ve been asked to join a committee or take on a role. Putting any self-doubt aside for a moment, consider the following questions:
- Is it something you want to do?
- What would be your motivation for doing it?
- Do you have a passion for it?
- Is it something you feel you have the time to do in your current season of motherhood?
Don’t let fear hold you back
If you feel it is something you want to do, then challenge that doubt that’s holding you back. Pick it apart and see what’s true and what’s not. Use your close allies to help you objectively consider if this is a good role for you. Don’t be afraid to say no if the role doesn’t feel right or it’s not the right time for you and your family. Know yourself, trust your gut, and above all don’t let fear hold you back from leading in your household and community. You never know the wonderfully positive influence you might have on the world around you.