The Doubting Twin – your internal career blocker
Waiting to be noticed, unsure of your skills, stepping back to give others space, letting people talk over you - all signs of an energetic Doubting Twin. Balance her with a Constructive Twin and you will be good to go.
‘If I’m really good at what I do, then people will notice and give me the opportunities I deserve. If that doesn’t happen, it’s because I’m not good enough and I just have to accept that’.
Thus speaks the Doubting Twin
Of course, she is misguided. I say ‘she’ because most often it’s women who are plagued by an inner voice that drones on about not getting stuff right, not being good enough, needing to put other people first………
If this rings a bell, your Doubting Twin could well be getting in the way of your dream career or business. As a polite and modest person, the idea of saying how good you are will be like fingers down a chalkboard. ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’ ‘I can’t risk being big headed.’ ‘I was told never to boast’. Yet this is just what you need to do. Reframe the concept of ‘big headed’ to ‘realistic about what you do well and what you have to offer’ and this is just what employers or new customers need to hear from you.
I’ve held in depth conversations with numerous women on this subject: employed, self employed and business owners; from senior level to entry level; young through to approaching retirement. 99% of them had one thing in common – they struggled to believe in themselves and to speak honestly about their achievements and talents. This didn’t stop them being successful. Most of them were achieving well, despite the tyranny of that inner voice. But I was left wondering how much further they could have gone, if the voice had been positive and constructive. And I’m sure there are numerous women out there who hold themselves back from success for fear of being criticised or getting it wrong.
I remember one young woman who was headhunted by a company that needed exactly her skills. Their main question – ‘what would it take for you to move?’ Despite being happy in her existing job, so nothing to lose, she immediately produced a litany of reasons why she shouldn’t ask for more money. ‘They won’t like me if I’m greedy, I’m not worth that much money, I’ll never be able to do the job….’ Then she remembered our conversation about the Doubting Twin and realised who was talking. She took a deep breath and asked for an additional £15K and got all but £5K of that. So recognising the voice of her Doubting Twin and taking the risk to step out of her limitation was worth £10,000 a year. Nice!
The first step is to recognise what’s happening. It’s never easy to spot it in the moment because it all feels so real. So get in the habit of doing a quick review of your day to see who is doing the talking. Notice where you held back, where you didn’t manage to get what you wanted, where you let others take the limelight away from you. Then consider what the risk would have been in having a go and speaking your piece.
Go take a look at my blog on Core Talent and clarify what you do best. Then it will be easier to identify when the Doubting Twin is holding you back.
Once you spot her, be curious about her motives. In my experience, she’ll have arisen for very good reason and is doing her best to keep you safe. Find out more about that and say ‘thank you’. Then let her know how talented you are and share your dreams. Reassure her that you’re not going to be rash or careless and that you still value her nose for danger. Then identify some ‘safe’ risks and experiment with behaving in a different way.
It's this Doubting Twin that underpins the Imposter Syndrome. She acts like a brake on your system to keep you in your place. She is really useful sometimes, but she is also a sure fire way to avoid using your power. So see her, take her concerns into consideration, make a plan and introduce her to the part of you that is ready for adventure. Together you will make a really exciting combo!
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