The A Word: Faking It

Supta Virasana

Here we are in our 3rd national lockdown and I think it may be a while before it comes to an end.  During the 1st lockdown (which seems like a very long time ago) I started on-line classes to teach myself to dance.  I’m still learning and pleased to report that I’m looking forward to showing off my new skills.  I’ve recently progressed to rock and roll while blasting out Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock!  As well as working, I’m still doing my daily workouts, walking around 15,000 steps a day, and continuing to practice yoga.  I have to say that out of everything I do to help my Ankylosing Spondylitis, Yoga is by far the most enjoyable.

I write my blog to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases and it’s a well-known fact that exercise can help with the challenges we encounter in everyday life.  If you’ve been struggling to get your exercise regime kick started, I thought I’d share a really good piece of advice I picked up during my sales training that will help if you can’t get motivated.  It only takes 30 days of perseverance to create a new habit and, more importantly, 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.  There’s lots of research to be found on this subject but a good study published in 2009 by the European Journal of Social Psychology provides information to support this.

So, when I decided to practice Yoga, I started with a 30-day programme to learn the basics.  Wow, I’ve progressed so quickly and surprised myself at how much I’ve come to enjoy this daily ritual.  I do some relatively advanced sessions now, usually for about 40 minutes a day, and whilst I can’t do all the yoga poses yet, I see improvement every time I take to the mat.  I appreciate I’ve good reason for trying everything I can to keep well, but there are many benefits associated with Yoga and if you take anything away from my blogs, I ask you to take a look at an online beginner’s yoga video on YouTube, it will change your life in only 30 days! 

Moving on, the main subject of this blog is “Faking It”.  You’re probably thinking, “OMG, what’s she going to say now”!

During my early career I often felt like a “fake” and I’ve since learned it’s a very common feeling.  There are many skilled, accomplished executives who fear that they’re not good enough—impostors who are bound to be found out. In many walks of life there are high achievers who believe that they are complete fakes. To the outside observer, they appear to be remarkably accomplished; often they’re extremely successful leaders. Despite their achievements, however, these people sense that they are frauds. This neurotic imposture, as psychologists call it, is not a false humility. It is the flip side of giftedness and causes many talented, hardworking, and capable leaders—men and women who have achieved great things—to believe that they don’t deserve their success.

In my situation, not having a University degree probably contributed to feeling like a fake as I worked with some incredibly clever, talented people.  I often had the feeling that I only scraped by because of luck or by fooling others into believing in me.  I felt a deep insecurity about my work and accomplishments, often anxious that I’d be exposed as a fraud.

This did get better by the way 😊.  I started to keep a spreadsheet of the deals I’d closed to remind myself I was doing OK.   In the later stages of my career just before Jamie and I founded our successful business, my confidence continued to improve.  I remember driving across London in a chauffeur driven car with the CEO of a very large, well known American technology organisation.  They were buying the company I worked for and, as Head of Sales, I was taking him out to meet some of our clients (complete with his bodyguard!).  It only took one complement from him on the relationship I had with one of our largest clients for me to think I wasn’t too bad after all!  So, if you’re a senior executive reading my blog always take time to praise people for good work as I can assure you it really makes a difference.

This “fake” feeling isn’t just the case in business as we all play roles on the stage of life, presenting a public image that sometimes differs from the private person we actually are.   The studies of the famous Canadian sociologist Erving Groffman are interesting as he provides a detailed account of this in his book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.”   

Groffman argues that as humans come in contact with each other they adopt and play roles in order to fulfil their goals, establishing the relationship between the actor and audience. Using this metaphor, he explains that we strive to convince those around us of what we are trying to portray. Just like a good actor in a movie, the degree to which people believe us all play a role in our ultimate success. He goes on to explain the “front stage” as being where we perform or conform to what people expect and the “backstage” is where we can forget the script and behave without the fear of disapproval.  An interesting concept and a good read for lockdown boredom 😊..

Finally, I want to finish on the current situation we find ourselves in here in the UK.  Like many of you, Jamie and I have such a full life and I’m really missing normality; my attitude to lockdown is better on some days than on others!  I do appreciate we’re not “stuck” at home we’re “safe” at home and, more importantly, helping to keep others safe.  I think its fair to say we have to try to make the most of this time, rather than just play a waiting game, until things get easier and better.  Life will always be complicated.  We have to learn to be happy right now, otherwise we’ll run out of time.  Easier said than done but perhaps worth a try.

Until next time, keep safe and try Yoga xxxx

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