A small helping of imposter syndrome for my executive team please!

The thing that is important is to try to distinguish one’s own insecurities from real weaknesses. Insecurities have the habit of becoming realities if left unchecked.

Recently, when watching the senior director of a global organisation deliver some of the worst presentations I have ever witnessed, it was interesting to observe that the  large audience of in-house senior managers were held captive and hanging off his every word (or at least doing an excellent job of appearing to do so). This phenomenon also appears to be true for some celebrities who reach a certain level of fame; it doesn’t seem to matter how good they are anymore, they are forever carried along on the tidal wave of success from their past glories. This is doubtless great for the individual but far less so for the organisation and those around them. I am sure that the director is highly competent in many other aspects of his role but it would seem key to the all round success of anyone performing at a high level, to be able to get up in front of large groups and communicate important information or to be able to motivate and rally a call to action in the people they have connections to.

Another thought that popped into my mind was of people in business being like horses. . . . . . bear with me now. . . . . Do horses think we all drive at 10 miles an hour? Well, that is all they get to witness as we slow down to overtake them. They don’t observe that when we are at a safe distance we begin to speed up. Was the director akin to the horse? If he received no contrary view of his performance how would he know that his presentation skills were not up to scratch?

So what is the moral of the story? If you don’t think you have a bit of imposter syndrome or its elements stalking you to some degree, let that be the call to action to ensure you get solid, constructive feedback from those around you to ensure you keep the Peter Principle at bay, at least until your next promotion!

Neurones & River Beds

Just as water in rivers can alter the shape and flow of the river itself, so too can thoughts alter the physical structures of the neurones that carry those thoughts. When we try to learn a new skill or develop a new way of perspective, thinking or behaving, the focused attention we give to operating in this new or slightly altered way will be stimulating neurones to fire in new sequences or to fuse with other neurones to help increase the speed and efficiency of the the newly emerging action. If we keep up the focussed attention and practice again and again, the brain will put resources into ensuring the brain supports this new action until it becomes embedded at a neuronal level and requires far less if any conscious effort and thought. This is neural plasticity in action and is a key mechanism the brain uses to continually update itself to ensure you are bet equipped to deal with the environment you are currently in. We could add to the analogy further by considering how water flows down the river along the path of least resistance. So do thoughts so that the easiest route is the one used or chosen by the brain. The easiest route tends to be the one that is most used, practised and habituated. When we want to alter ourselves to cope with change or change others in change programmes we need to unlock old habits and create new ones to have any chance of the new perceptions, thinking and behaviours being used over pre-existing habits. Not always easy but certainly possible.