As a leadership coach in the non-profit sector, I’ve encountered time and time again a pervasive fear that many individuals grapple with: the persistent belief that, no matter how hard they work, it’s never enough.
Last week I was in a coaching session with a charity leader and we identified three key themes that were creating the overwhelming sense that she wasn’t doing enough:
1. She had very high expectations for herself and the impact she wanted to make. Her strong desire to achieve ambitious goals and a desire to help others had created a sense of never doing enough.
2. Her charity has limited resources and therefore she was understandably finding it hard to address all the needs she encounters. The constant awareness of resource constraints contributed to a feeling of not doing enough,
3. She feels deeply passionate and emotionally invested in her work. Whilst this dedication is admirable, it can also lead to a sense of never doing enough because the problems she’s trying to solve persist despite her best efforts.
This sense of inadequacy really can hinder personal and professional growth, creating a cycle of self-doubt and discouragement.
So what do we do about it?
I Work Bloody Hard, Yet It Doesn’t Feel Enough
So many high-achieving individuals find themselves caught in the trap of feeling perpetually inadequate, despite their relentless efforts. This fear is often fueled by external expectations and an internal drive for validation.
Those expectations can be a double-edged sword. They push you forward, but they also keep raising the bar. And that hunger for validation can be like an itch you can’t scratch.
You’re certainly not alone. So many of us have had times when we’ve felt this way. Successful leaders across various industries have often faced similar struggles. And in the results-driven nonprofit sector, it’s easy to see why leaders can feel disheartened.
But, it’s crucial to separate your self-worth from external validation and focus on intrinsic motivation and personal growth.
Easier said than done, right?
Understanding Confidence and Self-Confidence
Confidence is often misunderstood as an inherent quality possessed by only a select few. But, it’s a skill that can be developed through deliberate practice including self-reflection.
Building confidence involves identifying and leveraging your strengths, setting achievable goals, and celebrating your accomplishments along the way.
Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
Self-confidence goes deeper—it is about embracing your worth, accepting your imperfections, and cultivating self-compassion. Recognise that setbacks and challenges are opportunities for growth and learning, rather than indicators of inadequacy or simply failures.
It’s certainly a continued journey, but one that’s oh so worth it.
The Role of Vulnerability in Leadership and Reclaiming Imperfection
Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. But, embracing vulnerability is a powerful leadership trait that fosters trust, authenticity, and connection.
It involves being open about your challenges, creating a safe space for others to do the same.
By acknowledging and accepting imperfection, leaders create an environment that encourages innovation, risk-taking, and personal growth.
Embrace vulnerability as a strength and let go of the pressure to appear flawless! You’re human, after all.
The Value of a ‘Growth Mindset’ – Letting Go of the Perfectionist Trap
Perfectionism is often rooted in a fixed mindset—the belief that abilities and intelligence are fixed traits that can’t be changed. To break free from this perfectionist trap, adopting a growth mindset and flexible thinking is really important.
What many people fail to understand is that intelligence and capabilities can be developed through effort, practice, and learning. Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth, viewing setbacks as learning experiences, and seeking feedback to continuously improve all contribute to cultivating a growth mindset.
Cultivating resilience and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, knowing that growth occurs when we embrace uncertainty and push our boundaries will ultimately lead to a greater sense of self and increased confidence.
Managing Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is a common experience among high-achieving individuals, where they constantly fear being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of competence and success.
So many people experience imposter syndrome, it’s completely normal. Recognise first that you’re not alone!
To manage imposter syndrome, start by acknowledging and accepting your accomplishments. Look at the evidence in terms of what you’ve already achieved. Celebrate! Reflect on your journey, the challenges you have overcome, and the skills you’ve developed.
And, remember that everyone experiences self-doubt at times. Working with a coach or mentor who can provide objective perspectives and help reframe any negative or limiting self-perceptions is always helpful.
Harnessing the Power of Coaching
Group coaching and personalised one-on-one leadership coaching offer invaluable support and guidance in addressing these challenges.
In a group coaching setting, trust is key. You’ll find that a lot of us individuals are facing similar struggles. Through shared experience and guidance, you gain new insight, perspective, and practical strategies for overcoming self-doubt.
One-to-one coaching provides a tailored approach, allowing you to delve deeper into your personal challenges, set specific goals, and receive personalised guidance.
A great coach will help you identify limiting beliefs, develop strategies for self-improvement, and hold you accountable to your growth journey.
Learn more about Vivid Leadership’s ’group and one-to-one coaching below.
The experience of coaching is thought-provoking, transformational, and at times challenging – but in a very supportive environment.
With Vivid Leadership Coaching you will be connected to what you really care about, and the difference you want to make.
Group coaching brings the coaching conversation into a small group context. It’s about expanding who you are; it’s a potent way to transform how you see yourself, others and the options available to you.
Through in-depth conversations and action planning you will move beyond any negative habits and dissolve barriers that currently seem immovable. The experience is often deeply transformative.
The close engagement among group members and the strong focus on helping each other can
quickly help to form a close bond in which you and your fellow leaders come to support each other to achieve your goals.
As well as the above, some of the areas we might explore include:
- Change Management
- Authentic Leadership
- Influencing stakeholders
- Self-limiting beliefs
- Developing and leading the implementation of strategies
- Working with senior volunteers
- Workload management
- Building resilience
- Plus anything the group decide they’d like to focus on