Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Nihilism, safety goggles, and the number 6 - freelancing with imposter syndrome

I've blogged in the past about the risks that being a freelancer can have on your confidence, and also highlighted in my book about imposter syndrome how working in this way can also mean you appear to be more prone to such feelings of self-doubt.

It was therefore exciting and encouraging to have been asked by Freelance Heroes (who are ultimately responsible for my writing the book in the first place), to lead a session to share and explore some of the ideas in my book - in hopes of helping offer fellow freelancers some encouragement and practical ideas for how they might get more out of working as such.

And whilst it's always exciting to share the books' ideas with new people to get their views on my arguments, and what these are based on, I also find it valuable to 'gather some more stories' about people's experience of feeling like an imposter - not just for the sake of possible 2nd edition, but more importantly to share with others through this blog, in hopes that they may be of encouragement to others I'll never meet...

People in the session shared that they'd signed up to it, in recognition of some of the impacts that feelings of self-doubt were having on their freelance careers, and which they wanted to try and do something about:
  • not charging as much as they could/should/(needed to), and so financially struggling more than they recognised that they perhaps needed to;
  • not pursuing contracts or projects that would help raise their profile and secure future work, for fear that they did not hold the right qualifications for it (despite simultaneously acknowledging that they had significant relevant experience).

There was also a key point that one person made about the confusion and overlap between feeling like an imposter, and having a lack of confidence.

It was also interesting and challenging to hear of some of the practices that some of the freelancers in the session had created and adopted, in how they currently deal with feelings of imposterism:
  • phoning a trusted friend for a 'sanity check';
  • adopting a nihilistic mindset, and disassociating themselves from their work, to try and protect themselves against the potential risk of things not working out as they might hope they would.    

As we wrapped up the hour together, everyone shared that they'd found the time together of encouragement, and all committed to take a range of actions as a direct result of it:
  • increase their knowledge about specific areas of their existing work (libraries are always a good place to start for this!);
  • explore and better understand the 'origin stories' of what their doubt about their skill may be rooted in, so that they can design more effective ways to better manage it;
  • create feedback loops with clients and others;
  • talk about these feelings more openly with others, after realising that everyone feels them, to be able to hear others' experiences, and through these, better understand their own;
  • adopt a practice of self check-in questions with themselves when they think they may be feeling it, to help better manage these feelings of doubt and move through them;
  • experiment with different ideas to see which might work best for them (but as with any experiment, always make sure you wear safety goggles, just like when you were at school!).

What also struck me about the session was the number of people who were part of it - normally, on-line sessions and events I've been part of, or heard about, seem to attract (or need to book on) upwards of 15 people - we were a perfectly formed '6', which seemed to naturally allow for everyone to feel they could easily speak, and have the opportunity to explore and directly apply ideas and prompts to their own personal circumstances and situations.

So if you're thinking of joining a session to explore some of these ideas or feelings in the future, perhaps try and avoid the 'sell-out'/'big ticket' types, and hunt out the smaller groups as you'll likely get more benefit and encouragement from them (but only if you're really serious about wanting to do something about feelings of being an imposter...)


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

how to (instantly) lose credibility as a key-note speaker

We've all been to conferences, webinars, and other events where there are headline speakers presented to us in a fanfare of excitement - and we all find ourselves getting whipped up in anticipation of what they're going to say, and then as they're delivering their message/story/challenge, we find ourselves moved to start to take action and make changes in our lives and businesses.

But what if the changes we make because of what these big name people exhort us to, are actually based on lies, and these high-ticket speakers are actually misleading us?

In the last few months, I've been at events where some of the 'big names' touted as to why I should attend them have based their whole arguments on different un-truths, including:

1) it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something

2) according to the laws of physics, bees shouldn't be able to fly

And if you're reading this thinking - but those things are true, please ask yourself this: how do you know they're true? Chances are, you believe them because you've heard them repeated by lots of people over time. (This is know as 'the illusionary truth effect'.) I'm pretty sure, you won't haven't researched either for accuracy or published research, because you already believe them to be true so, don't need to fact-check them.

My concern about this perpetuating of un-truths as part of people supporting their ideas or arguments, that they want us to act on is this:

- If you're asking me to believe the ideas you're presenting to me, but the foundations that you're building them on simply aren't true, then:

a) you've shown you can't be bothered to do some simple homework / fact-checking, which makes me wonder what else in your approach is similarly 'lazy'?

b) if you're asking me to trust you by relying on things that have been proven to be untrue, then that's a hard ask...

Reflecting on my own experiences and feelings of when key-note speakers have 'shown themselves up' in this way, I find myself immediately 'switching off' to want to listen to anything else that they're wanting to offer and argue - because I simply feel I can't trust it, and that they obviously don't have any respect for me as their audience. 

Which is a shame, as I also realise I may be missing out on some good stuff that's buried amongst the fallacies and untruths that they're unwittingly perpetuating, which only serves to contribute to false understanding about what we and others might really be capable of... 

So please - any of you out there who are speakers or headline attractions at events: do us the courtesy of showing that you respect us as your audience and fellow human beings, and do a quick check of your facts before you unwittingly succumb to the illusionary truth effect, and tell us do things based on 'facts' that just aren't true (and never have been).

debunking the 10,000 hours rule - 

debunking that bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly - https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/08/bumblebee-flight-does-not-violate-the-laws-of-physics