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:

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