23rd October 2019
On 16 October, the Women’s Recycling Alliance (WRA) celebrated its one-year anniversary, and this saw members from all corners of the country gather in Birmingham for a celebratory meet-up – coordinated by Clearpoint’s development director, and WRA founder, Sarah Sanpher-McDowell.
The day kicked off with breakfast and a spot of networking, before leading into the day’s core personal development content. The first item on the agenda centred around imposter syndrome and delegates took part in a session led by UK coach, Jules Wyman.
As well as the confidence and skill-building session, there was a lunchtime interlude before the industry discussion in the afternoon. The second half of the day was led by Sheila Chauhan – communications, education and outreach manager at Veolia UK – and this saw members get stuck into a debate about the circular economy, a pipe dream or reachable reality?
We’ve decided to reflect on the workshop and industry discussion separately, and we’re starting with a quickfire guide to our top seven takeaways from Jules’s workshop.
This is perfect for anyone wanting to recap on the day’s content, or for any women in the waste and recycling industry who want to learn a little about this key area of personal development.
1) Stop worrying that people think you’re more capable than you feel you are
Imposter syndrome can present itself in many different guises, but the underlying theme is that you feel you’ve got where you are in life because of ‘luck’ of ‘a fluke’ – never because of your abilities – and this destructive attitude is born from self-doubt.
It’s important to recognise this as a universal trait and is experienced by both men and women as an equal 50-50 split, in both work and social environments. So, one key takeaway is to start realising your self-worth and stop feeling like a fraud. But how?
2) Be aware when you’re entering the ‘twilight zone’
When you start to feel uncomfortable or inadequate, you may notice some out-of-character behaviour happening – this is what is referred to as the ‘twilight zone’.
For example, you may hate presenting in front of a group, you may feel inferior when doing the school run and start comparing yourself to other mums, or perhaps you don’t think you do enough in your social life to be classed as an ‘interesting’ person. Whatever it may be, when you feel like a fraud you start behaving differently and it’s important to find which situations trigger you feeling this way.
3) Identify your ‘behaviours’
So, you start to feel uncomfortable, how you react to this is known as your ‘behaviours’.
From paper shuffling when delivering a talk and keeping quiet in a meeting, to getting sweaty palms or making jokes to deflect any insecurity, they can manifest themselves differently in everyone.
To be able to accept that you are not your behaviours – and help phase them out – you need to notice it, do the opposite (where appropriate), and breathe.
4) Embrace your ‘characters’
Okay, so you’re feeling like a fraud, but you need to get through this calmly and professionally, what do you do?
You’ll create a ‘character’ – this is the person who gets you safely through the other side and who displays ‘behaviours’ you usually wouldn’t do. You think you survive these tough scenarios because of your character alone – you were acting, right?
But then when you receive positive feedback, you attribute this to your ‘character’ and not yourself – and this is where the problem lies. Remember your characters have to use your voice, your skills and your body to be able to be successful – it was you, so you deserve the positive feedback!
5) Give yourself credit where credit is due (and make a list)
Life’s fast pace means we don’t tend to celebrate our achievements – we get recognition and move on to the next thing without really letting it soak in.
You need to look more at the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of how you reach a goal and truly acknowledge all the components. A great way to do this is to write a list of your achievements in education, jobs, personal growth and life milestones and take a good look.
Then, keep it in a folder, and revisit it on a weekly or monthly basis and keep adding to it. When it comes to an interview scenario, you’ll have these examples to hand, and you won’t dread the ‘what achievements are you proud of’ question.
6) Reassess other people’s terms and conditions
Imposter syndrome is caused by a belief in conditional worth, i.e. I should be able to do X because I’m 30, or I can’t have B without A.
Essentially, they’re rules you – or quite often, society – put in place because they’re the ‘norm’, but really all they do is limit the belief in yourself. Everyone has differing perspectives on life, yet we’re all conditioned (and willing) to work to others’ views of success. Take a step back and look at these T&Cs you’re holding yourself ransom to – do they really apply to you? Likelihood is they don’t, so forget them.
7) Forget about comparison
Known as the ‘confidence killer’, comparison is one of the root causes of imposter syndrome. But why?
We’ve all created an ‘ideal’ image of ourselves and the person we think we should be, and we then compare this to who we think we are – simple, right? The hard-hitting reality is, we’re not who we think we are – we’re somebody far better.
Therefore, you need to learn to let go of where you think you should be, recognise where you are now and give yourself a break.
These are our seven key takeaways from the workshop, and we’d like to give a massive thank you to Jules Wyman for the insightful content she tailored to help women in the waste and recycling industry develop their confidence both in and out of the workplace!
Are you a woman working in the waste and recycling sector? Have you ever experienced an attack of the imposter syndrome? The WRA is a great platform to speak about your experiences and share them with like-minded professionals.
If you’d like to find out more about the WRA and how to join, visit our dedicated webpage. And stay tuned for our next event reflections about the circular economy…
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