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Overcoming Fear & Doubt in Business: Q&A with the Federation of Small Businesses

Our very own mental fitness coach, Graham Whiley, was delighted to participate in the 'Overcoming Fear and Doubt in Business' webinar hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The 30-minute webinar was followed by a fantastic Q&A session where Graham responded to questions from FSB members.

A selection of the questions and answers are below:

Question 1: Can Imposter Syndrome be set to specific areas in life? For example, I am a confident speaker and presenter; however, when it comes to being visible on Social Media - I freeze, procrastinate, avoid, and have fear.

Answer: Absolutely – it can arise in any facet of life, work, domestic, sport; whatever you are involved in. It is simply a lack of confidence suggesting you are not worthy of being in that ‘privileged’ position.

Question 2: Would impostor syndrome ever disappear naturally?

Answer: Clearly it is possible but in my experience it rarely does. As a negative emotion, it often grows to feed on itself and distorts reality regardless of how well you are actually doing?

Question 3: I am currently frozen and recognise that the major cause is likely imposter syndrome. I'm bootstrapping my own business and so am somewhat isolated. Beyond coaching, what other techniques can I draw on to unlock myself and 'un-freeze'?

Answer: Simplistically, this is about two things. Firstly rebuild your self-confidence which you can do in a number of ways; Talk to colleagues about how they find working with you. In a similar vein using a 360-degree survey. A customer service survey will also show what customers believe is the quality of the organisation you run, and this can be replicated with other trading partners. Speaking with other trading stakeholders can give you insight from them. Secondly, you can work on your personal mental fitness; The 6-week Pod Program from The Executive Mindset will give you the tools to change the way you let negative thoughts undermine you.

Question 4: Do you see imposter syndrome as more likely if you are in the wrong job role and therefore a "wake up call" that you need to change jobs? Or is it something that happens just as commonly when you are in the ideal role?

Answer: It can happen when you are in the ideal role. This is about not recognising the truth of your abilities.

Question 5: Do you have any tips to stop micro-management habits? I have someone I work with, but every time I get the work back it's, to me, poor quality and not hitting the nail on the head. I end up 'tweaking' it.

Answer: This is more about effective delegation. Do they know clearly what you need, when you need it and the standard you need it to? If not can they be trained to that level, and if not then either change who does this work for you or lower your expectations.

Question 6: I’m about to start a new business and I’m positive it’s going to be amazing but I’ve suffered from anxiety in the past and every now and then I get the thoughts in my head thinking “this isn’t going to work, you are going to lose money” How can I help curb these thoughts that it isn’t going to work?

Answer: This is the irrational fear of failure. You clearly have skills, talent and experience that have value to the right person. Be very clear who your ideal customer is, how you can help them and be highly focused on doing exactly that.

Question 7: When you get the imposter feeling/fear of failure emotion coming up, what are the best steps to take to improve it?

Answer: Well, the greatest thing is recognising it for what it is. If you can do that early you will more readily be able to get it back into proportion and deal with things in a more rational, balanced way.

Question 8: Can you be influenced by people with imposter syndrome without having it yourself?

Answer: Influenced is an interesting word. If your boss is being hijacked by imposter syndrome you are likely to see all the various symptoms of micro-managing, poor delegation, risk aversion and erratic behaviour associated with it.

Question 9: Are there any techniques that you can use 'in the moment' to help control fear in live situations?

Answer: The techniques learned in the 6-week Pod Program from The Executive Mindset will directly equip you to handle this in the moment.

Question 10. I have an interview coming up for a senior role. How do I get myself into the right frame of mind?

Answer: Recruitment is a 2-way street; are you right for them and are they right for you? So trying to sit in their seat - rehearsing the sort of likely questions they might have and key skills they might value will position you more confidently for the meeting. Secondly, being clear about the things that matter to you and how you can ask/satisfy yourself in the interview will mean that you have a productive engagement for both parties.

Question 11: How do you identify where the fear is coming from? How do you identify the root cause?

Answer: The root cause does not matter very much. The fact you identify the fear, control it and move forward is all that really matters. You do that enough times and the fear will subside.

Question 12: What is a realistic time frame to overcome imposter syndrome?

Answer: Clearly this varies enormously, but somewhere between 3 and 9 months would be quite common. The 6-week Pod Program from The Executive Mindset will give you all the tools you need to overcome your 'saboteurs'.

Question 13: I realise I'm procrastinating out of fear of making the wrong decision. How do I break the habit as there is always a reason for pausing rather than hitting the go button?

Answer: Recognising you are procrastinating is an excellent first step. Then ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen, then what would I do if the worst did happen? Invariably you will work out a strategy that deals with the worst rendering it no fear at all.

Question 14: Can you give some specifics in terms of how often to celebrate, how often to do 360-degree feedback with colleagues/customers/suppliers, and how often to talk to people to broaden your self-picture before you see a change?

Answer: I don’t think there’s a time frame around celebrating success. Do it whenever you are successful – keep it proportionate to the success but recognise the wins big or small. A 360 loses value if done too frequently – annually might be the shortest cycle. Customer/supplier surveys are good on a regular basis - either through instant feedback like Google Reviews or Trust Pilot or every 6 months for a more in-depth analysis. Continual dialogue with the team can only be a good thing.


Find out more about the 6-week Pod Program from The Executive Mindset, which could provide you with the skills to overcome your fears in business.

Watch more FREE webinars for businesses on the FSB website.


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