Wednesday, June 15, 2022

facilitating with watermelons and carrots as an imposter

I was recently invited to share and facilitate discussions with a forum of global facilitators about how imposter syndrome impacts them personally, their professional practices, and the implications that this has for their clients in turn.

This was as part of the ongoing Facilitation Lab series, so it felt very much like being a visiting scientist who'd been asked to share exciting new experiments, and play with test tubes and bunsen burners! (safety goggles at the ready...)


Somehow, I found that within the 90 minutes scheduled, I only talked about my book about imposter syndrome (the reason I'd been invited to lead the session) for about 60 seconds - but the wider conversations I encouraged people to share together seemed to offered them far more value, than listening to me lecture them about my book would have done; (at least, that's how it seemed from my side of the screen).

Most admitted to being afflicted by imposter syndrome at times as facilitators (and interestingly, this didn't seem to be something which reduced with how long they'd been doing it for). In turn, this led to people sharing impacts that ranged from not seeking work they saw advertised; not being able to charge what they know they should for their services; and experiencing disrupted health - but that's perhaps not that untypical across most professional practices?

However, the ways in which people then shared with each other how they seek to mitigate or manage these impacts and feelings revealed some very unexpected practices:

- promising oneself a massive chocolate bar once they've got through the session with the client, to help them retain their resolve;

- practicing self-awareness about personal biases and prejudices;

- spontaneous prayer;

- accepting that despite best plans and efforts, there will always be at least one thing will go wrong;

- and realising that as a facilitator, we're always going to be the 'odd one out' in any group: we stand apart from everyone else in not being part of, or sharing, the norms and cultures they've already formed as a working team. And that in itself would usually be basis enough to make us feel that we're an imposter in being the 'outsider' - but as a facilitator that's what we're supposed to be!

And it's also the closing reflections that people shared with each other on how the whole lab session felt to them: summing up how the conversations, stories shared, and practices that will now be being introduced into their respective professional practices. As we went around the zoom boxes, people shared how they'd felt the time for them had been like roast beef / watermelon / lentil loaf / carrots / a continental breakfast / spaghetti...   

(and if you want to know about the book that prompted FacLab to ask me to guest lead this session:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

how the tax system unfairly disadvantages smaller businesses (like mine)

As a non-VAT registered business (like half of all the other business registered in the UK), I can't reclaim the tax I'm charged by my suppliers on my running costs (utilities, marketing, insurances, equipment, etc).

This means my overheads and running costs are up to 20% higher than they might be otherwise if I were - and puts me at an unfair financial disadvantage against other firms who are VAT-registered (because they don't have to cover costs in the same way I do, in their being up to 20% lower...).

So, I hear you reasonably ask, why don't I simply register for VAT and stop griping about this?

The answer, I'm afraid, is that if I did I would likely price myself out of being able to win a lot of the work I currently do with smaller charities, community businesses, social enterprises, and the like: once VAT registered I would be legally required to pay the government up to 20% of all the fees I received from clients and customers (before costs) - so to avoid bankrupting myself, this means I'd need to add this additional amount to the invoices I generate. And as most of these groups in turn aren't VAT registered themselves, this means that they suddenly wouldn't be able to afford me: my price would be going up 20% overnight - but I wouldn't be benefitting from any of that additional fee, in having to pass it straight back to the government...

And is that fair? Well, at the time of this blog, there's increasing outcry about the rising cost of petrol and diesel - but as part of this, no-one seems to be pointing out that at least half of what we pay for this commodity is actually tax imposed by the government....


Tax is an emotive issue - many people seem to want to avoid paying as much of it as they can, and there are whole industries that exist to this end (for example, did you know that contracts awarded by the government in recent years have been to companies who've knowingly evaded paying nearly £20BILLION that should have been due in taxes?)

Some people feel that they're justified in this stance because they don't trust how the government uses the monies we pay in tax. And whilst I do have sympathy with this, governments change over time. My own position is that I want to try and be as consistent and honest with myself as I can, and so in tax, as with so many other things, I seem to go against 'accepted wisdom', in that I'm always making conscious decisions to increase my tax liability wherever I can...

So whilst this post may have started off as a whine about VAT, now you're reaching its conclusion you'll hopefully realise that it's actually about trying to encourage us to have a wider and more grown up debate about tax than we might usually...

Monday, June 6, 2022

I changed my mind about kindle-ing my book

Earlier this year, I published my first book - on the topic of why everything we think we know about imposter syndrome is (probably) wrong, after I started to look at the research and evidence associated with this issue.

And at the time, I decided to invoke authors prerogative, and only make it available as a physical book - and as part of my sharing the why and how I'd come to accidentally write this book and put it out into the world, I also shared my reasons for this choice.

However, as some may recall, I've shared in previous blog posts how I'm always open to 'being proved wrong' - and this foray into the world of being a published author is no different.

Since the book went 'live', I've had a couple of people ask about an eBook/Kindle version - and I've always politely referred them to the blog post giving the reasons why it was only available in physical form.

But then someone challenged me on this with actual evidence and arguments. And given this is my first time in book publishing land, and I'm largely feeling my way as I go along, they were things which I'd honestly not considered in my original thinking (accessibility issues, import taxes between countries, potential for climate impact, and more opportunity for spontaneity).

So, I've 'relented' and made a copy of the book available as a kindle eBook. 

The reason it's the same price as the physical copy remains true to my original thinking about what to price it at, and I've also allowed for it to be shared between people in the same way you can if you buy a physical copy.

So, if there's moral to this story, it's probably that you should always reach out to authors if they've not done something that you might have preferred/like them to; and that Suzanne Whitby is really good at challenging your thinking (it was her arguments that finally 'tipped me' over to the eBook side...)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

maybe I am ok with being a 'guru' after all...

10 years ago, I publicly posted in a deliberate attempt to distance and separate myself from the title of 'guru' that others were (and still are) referring to me in association with, for my work with enterprises, charities, businesses, sector bodies, and educational institutions of all types -

However, a recent conversation prompted my revisiting my understanding and definitions of the word "guru", and I've now come to associate this title with a person who's a popular expert / influential teacher. And on this basis, I now feel comfortable to 'don the mantle' of being a guru: 

  • I'm happy to be known as an expert and teacher (after all, those are the bases on which I 'sell myself', and people extol my virtues through posts on social media and recommendations left on my LinkedIn profile);
  • similarly, based on comments people make about me, and the followings I seem to have amassed across different social media channels, I would seem to have garnered a degree of popularity (although I never meant to!);
  • and I also know my work has changed policy, legislation, created jobs for others; so I can say with confidence that I've had influence.

So - I'm now ok if you want to call me a guru, but my next question to figure out, is what am I a guru of...?