Learning to silence your inner saboteur

Photograph of Andrew Blench, EEL speaker

Andrew Blench, SBM consultant, School Business Partner Limited, discusses how you can avoid feeling like an imposter

Can I paint a scenario for you? You are at an event with lots of other people and the person leading the event says, “Can I have a volunteer to come to the front and do ‘xyz’ with me?”

This could be something like first aid training or a positive handling course. The more confident members of the audience will sprint to the front, but for the majority of us the reaction will probably be to shrink into ourselves (often trying to make ourselves physically smaller in the seat) and start praying that someone volunteers soon so they speaker doesn’t pick on you! But why does something so simple trigger such a negative feeling within us?

Part of this is about being human and a basic automatic evolutionary response which is programmed into us to keep us safe. In the same way that animals will respond to a threat by standing with the pack. The worst thing that can happen to us is for the single animal to get separated from the herd because then the attacker will pounce. We have all seen this on wildlife programmes on TV.

But in the first scenario I have described the threat is not real and only a perceived threat. You’re not going to get attacked by a hungry pack of wolves if you go to the front and demonstrate the technique with the trainer.

“If you go for that you will fall flat on your face, and everyone will know what a numpty you really are!”

What is probably happening is that your ‘inner saboteur’ kicks in to dissuade you from saying ‘yes’ or volunteering for opportunities. The implications being that people haven’t seen through you yet and your well-practiced pretence of being competent has fooled everyone up to this point! Or if we flip this your inner voice says, “Actually I could be quite good at this and I am not sure that I want to confirm this to myself or for others to see this.” So, this can be a fear of failure or also a fear of success.

So, can I ask you – how are you getting on with your inner saboteur? If you are saying ‘no’ to opportunities that life offers to you is this based upon a rationale appraisal of workload and personal interests? Or is your inner saboteur answering ‘no’ before you even get a chance to think about it? Do you need to say ‘yes’ more often? Go on try it. What’s the worst that can happen? So, what if you make a few mistakes – the person who never made a mistake, never made anything.

To find out more about how to silence your inner saboteur come see Andrew speak at our EdExec LIVE event at Manchester (12 October). Click here to book your ticket now or email us at [email protected] for a discounted ticket.

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