From doubtful to a
Case study: Marlene SPENSLEY
Senior Partner Development Manager at Amazon
My name is Marlene Spensley. I am a Business Development Executive working in IT at Hitachi Vantara, the digital business of Hitachi Ltd, a Japanese multinational conglomerate. I am responsible for growing profitable revenues with new and existing strategic partners.
When I started this new job, which was quite different from my previous roles and a career development opportunity, feelings of Imposter Syndrome crept up. Feelings that I was ‘lucky’ to be there, not as good as everyone else and not qualified to do the job. I was allowing these feelings of being out of my depth to overtake my ability to succeed. This made it difficult to maintain confidence in what was a more formal environment and male-dominated workplace.
My exaggerated fears and irrational thoughts were affecting my demeanour, confidence and performance in pressure situations and limited me when I needed to engage proactively. I had a bad habit of focusing on the negatives rather than acknowledging the whole situation and realising these were just small exceptions.
I was worrying excessively, catastrophised (fast-forwarding to the worst-case scenario and dwelling on that), panicking about my worst fears then suffering as my mood spiralled downwards. I had difficulties getting to sleep and sometimes woke up at night because of worry.
I doubted my sales skills and my ability to perform in my role as expected. I struggled to deal with negative or challenging people in the workplace.
Ultimately, I felt impeded from reaching my full potential because of all the above.
I wanted to overcome these barriers, which I feel have held me back for years.
Although my expertise has developed, and my confidence increased over my career, I knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential.
I finally had a role and company where I could really excel, if only I did not have these challenges.
I wanted to grasp the opportunity and make a fantastic career, and instead, I just felt overwhelmed and like I had to get out.
I was sick of worrying and feeling not good enough.
Working with a skilled coach who was unknown to me, but it made it much easier to talk about my deep-held personal beliefs, challenges and weaknesses that I had kept privately to myself for years. Tomas deftly assessed my traits and career path, and without me realising it, he was able to see where I had been successful and why.
As an ‘outsider’ to me, he brought a neutral view based on facts, which was very hard to argue with.
I began to recognise my many achievements and the reasons I had progressed, rather than dismissing them and seeing them as being “lucky”.
I finally started to acknowledge and accept my skills and successes.
Tomas challenged my ‘imposter’ thoughts of not being good enough, or lucky to be where I am, with evidence, and we developed effective techniques to reset my thinking.
Tomas did a great job in drawing out the root causes of some of my fears and helped me to isolate them and see what was realistic, rather than irrational and highly unlikely. He pointed out evidence from the information I shared to endorse this, making it very difficult for me to continue to support my irrational fears. I gained a new perspective on people and situations rather than my previous biased and skewed view that was usually focused on one small element of the overall situation.
Tomas helped me to develop tools and techniques to refine my business skills, prepare for important events, set goals to progress and achieve my objectives.
In times of uncertainty, I have been able to plan ahead for each eventuality and develop skills to control my tendency to worry and catastrophise.
As a result of the coaching, I have turned things around and built a strong personal brand within the business that has helped me to progress to exactly where I want to be. I have developed a good network of relationships, and now I genuinely feel part of the team rather than an outsider and imposter as I did previously. I now have colleagues approaching me for advice or to collaborate and have learned to acknowledge this as evidence of my expertise, presence and success.
In fact, in a complete reversal of my previous self-doubt, I now consider myself to be one of the most accomplished and capable professionals within the team.
I feel much calmer and more confident.
I now accept and believe that I am a true asset to the business rather than believing that I am not qualified or good enough to be there.
I have developed techniques to manage my worrying and catastrophising before it starts and keep things in perspective.
When I do have challenges or face uncertainty, I’m now able to consider all possible outcomes and plan for each eventuality to maintain control.
This also has had a positive effect on my personal life.
I feel happier and more fulfilled, I sleep well, and I am generally more relaxed.
Tomas’s friendly, non-judgemental approach and his ability to draw information conversationally put me at ease and built trust.
This enabled me to open up about my concerns and admit to weaknesses that I would never want to reveal to anyone, but which have been holding me back.
No matter what the challenge, Tomas always provided useful insights or techniques, and I can genuinely say that I have felt uplifted, positive and more confident after every session we have had.