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Ever get that “who am I to?” feeling?

10 Feb 2014 | Mind monkeys

That feeling of not being good enough, strong enough, smart enough, important enough, experienced enough, old/young enough, ____ [insert your own] enough to do something?

Imposter syndrome. That feeling that you’re pretending, playing a game that’s too big for you, hoping no one will notice, and any minute now you’re going to get found out.

I get that. All the time.

I had it when I started delving into productivity (who am I, a naturally disorganised, time-challenged person, to talk about time?!!). I had it in bucketfuls when I released my book. I get it regularly still before doing talks, coaching clients, delivering workshops and sending out articles.

When you get that feeling, you have a choice.

  • You can listen to it, bury your dreams, and distract yourself with something safer.
  • You can try and ignore it, and have it follow you around, chipping away at your sanity and confidence.
  • You can reason with it – argue your case, work out all the reasons why you absolutely can do this, and indeed, “who are you not to?” (I get so much delight doing this with my clients) 
  • You can bolster yourself up with more training, more qualifications, more research, more preparation to get yourself feeling more ready…

But sometimes it’s just a case of doing it.

Doing it for no other reason than “Because I choose to”.

Sometimes it’s saying: “Gah! I don’t feel ready but I’m going to show up anyway. And until someone asks me to leave, I’ll stay.”

Much of my business journey has been on the principle of “If it helps. I’ll keep doing it. If it doesn’t I’ll do something else.”

Last week I had one of those surreal starstruck moments, when I saw my name alongside Brian Tracy and Michael Hyatt in Productive! Magazine.

I felt like I had gatecrashed a party and no-one was asking me to leave.

It felt bizarre. Exciting. Terrifying. And good! Good to know I can be myself, play at this level, and bring something valuable to the party.

What about you? What are you stretching into, that feels terrifying? Where are you finding your imposter syndrome in full voice, practically shouting “who are you to…?”

Go on, dive in. Show up. See what happens.

You never know, you might find yourself really welcome.

And if you want to see my article in Productive! Magazine here it is: What having kids has taught me about productivity.

Care to share your thoughts and stories on this? I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments below.



  1. Richard Tubb

    Grace – a very timely blog post, and one that I’m sure many of us have experienced any time we’re feeling less than confident before we work with clients, walk into a room full of strangers at a networking event, or get up before people to deliver a presentation.

    It’s interesting how we view ourselves compared to how others view us. You may have felt starstruck being published into Productive! magazine, but many of us who follow your work weren’t surprised at all that you were included. Personally I felt you should have received such recognition before! 🙂

    Congratulations on your success. I hope it helps many more people appreciate your great work!

    • Grace Marshall

      Thanks Richard – glad it came at the right time for you, and pleased you enjoyed the post and the article. It’s true, we are often our own harshest critics, which is another reason not to let that ‘who am I to?’ feeling rule our actions. It can take time for our confidence to catch up with our capabilities!

  2. Diane Warburton

    This is indeed timely. Since last Thursday I’ve been involved in the possibility of having premises for a new business venture I want to get into. It all happened rather quickly and took me unawares. I was so very excited yet also thought ‘oh hell, get real Diane, you can’t do that, surely not?’ As it turns out, I’ve been pipped at the post and I feel that a few things were against me, particularly my partner being overseas when I needed him (yes, I know, I’ve had words!! 😉 ) but also my nerves and lack of experience. I am not deterred though. I’ve gained some clarity about how I want to move forward, so I’m really glad for the experience.

    As for that little voice telling me to doubt myself; it’ll have to wait for another day, when I’ll be ready to pounce!

    • Grace Marshall

      What a great experience Diane – and well done on taking the leap into the possibility in the first place. Sounds like you’re ready for round 2 🙂

  3. Jackie Elton

    Funnily enough I was working on this exact same thing with my mentor on Tuesday. Sometimes you need to get a different perspective and change the focus to times you have been more than good enough and helped people with something. Thanks for the great posts.

  4. naomirichards

    Mine would be – not being grown up enough in so many ways. Guess that is why I coach children and we click.

    • Grace Marshall

      What a great way to turn a ‘not enough’ round to come from a place of strength. I would use that to challenge the situations where you feel you’re not grown up enough – What if being just as I am is enough? What if I can be youthful and playful AND do this thing well. I love Brene Brown and Susan Cain’s TED talks for that – both people who are not natural ‘in the limelight’ people, who show up just as they are to deliver a message they believe in.

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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