October 12

Is self doubt sabotaging your success… like it did for me?


Self doubtDespite rising through the ranks, self-doubt always told me I wasn’t smart enough, savvy enough, brave enough or good enough to be there.

I was born to a working-class, farming family in a small village called Guiseley in Yorkshire in the north of England. My dad was a poultry farmer and my stay-at-home mum juggled kids, the farm and the market on weekends. While riding around on my dad’s lap on the tractor, he would often say (in his strong northern accent) ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass, love’, which meant, ‘if you put in the hard work, the money will come’.

Mum, on the other hand, would share her pride at being ‘the first girl in the family’ to attend Leeds secretarial college and then the disappointment at having to give it all up when she got married.

I received a full student grant and financial support from the government to go to university. There’s no way my farming family could have funded my further education without this. Suddenly, I was off (hooray!). I packed my backpack and headed to Birmingham, not realising at the time that I would never return home to live again.

I remember that first term—the conversations, the people, their backgrounds—my eyes were well and truly opened to the world of possibility, and also to self-doubt, lack of confidence, imposter syndrome, imperfection and all of my flaws.

I worked and played hard and graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Science, a significant amount of debt, some lifelong friends and a suitcase full of memories. Over the next eight years, in London this time, I tackled the ongoing, exhausting battle between striving for more and proving I was good enough. I was determined to ‘make it in a man’s world’ and prove to my dad that I could do it.

Despite rising through the ranks, self-doubt always told me I wasn’t smart enough, savvy enough, brave enough or good enough to be there.

By the age of 27, I’d fallen in love with an Aussie, Jason, and decided to run away from those nagging doubts and try again—somewhere new. I left my job, sold my belongings, packed my backpack (again) and moved to Australia.

Over the next 10 years, I rebuilt my career in a country where I had no friends and no proof of who I was or what I could achieve. I lived on the verge of burnout and breakdown while juggling three young children, a full-time corporate job and horrendous bullying at a senior level. Deciding I’d had enough I chose to leave to set up and bootstrap my own business.

Then, my husband’s company went into receivership, and he lost his job. With no regular money coming in we hit rock bottom financially. We had to sell up, downsize to a rental, live off credit cards—we even went as far as having conversations with mates about camping in their backyards (I’m serious!).

Through it all, Jason believed in me—that was all the fuel I needed to open my eyes and make a change. I took back control and I worked. I dug deep, I hustled and I invested in the right people around me to keep me focused and on track. I formed the LBDGroup, a network for commercially smart women who collaborate and support each other (which I sold in March 2019).

Since then, I’ve built an online business coaching business, a global speaking and a training business, working with some of the most inspiring business owners, organisations and leaders who are committed to building success.

In 2011 I founded the not-for-profit with an incredible board of women who, together, helped many parents and kids in disadvantaged areas in Australia. I became a partner at Thought Leaders Global, a business helping people become commercially smart. In 2017, I achieved an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Aston in Birmingham and was privileged to be asked to speak to the graduating year of students. I’ve even written and published three best-selling books. I’m regularly invited to share my thoughts and opinions on TV, radio and podcasts. Oh! and throw 3 growing children, a hubby, two cats, one dog and a bearded dragon into the mix – the juggle and time pressure is real.

Why am I telling you this?

It’s not about stroking my own ego, telling you all the things I’m good at, or all that I’ve done. No, it’s about owning the good stuff—the achievements and the nagging internal voices along the way—everything I’ve told myself I’m not doing ‘right’ or could do ‘better’.

Just like you, my journey was never and will never be all unicorns and rainbows. That’s not life.

Unlocking our brilliance, becoming more, following your dreams is about accepting the conditioning we’ve grown up with, why we think the way we do, recognising what drives us, celebrating our wins, and equally, recognising when we’re being hard on ourselves, when we judge ourselves and when we fu*k up!

I know, I know, easier said than done, right?

Like me, you’ve probably spent years investing in yourself, reading self- development books, going on training programs to make you a better leader, negotiator, writer, presenter, thinker (insert whatever works for you). And even after all this investment, you continue to question who you are and what you’re doing. It’s crazy! We continue to question our worth and our brilliance! 

Undertaking any meaningful endeavour – launching a business, building a new product offering, expanding your team, entering a new market, writing a book, developing a new website – requires you to be at your best. It requires you to be brilliant and to be visible – and yes, this is often easier said than done.

I acknowledge that even now as a business owner, mother of three, wife, sister, daughter, friend, these inner demons continue to raise their ugly heads. I’m not brilliant. I have flaws and imperfections—too many to list here.

But what I have learned is to accept who I am and be pretty gentle and forgiving of myself. I’ve learned that I have certain strengths where I can add a lot of value, and equally, I have a hell of a lot of weaknesses that are hard to change. I’ve learned to accept all of this about myself, and I’ve learned to get curious about my behaviours, and about how and why some people get under my skin. I’ve learned to continually lead from a place of courage and acceptance of others, of loving unconditionally and teaching always.

It’s not easy though—after all I’ve got many years of my own unconscious bias, ideas and opinions, as do you. But when we give in to the inner demons and negative voices, we can’t do our best work. We can’t bring the best of ourselves to what we do, and we can’t do what it is we want to do and achieve with our life.

Truth be told, we can’t lead others or bring out the best in others until we lead ourselves.

In this decade of disruption there’s a great blanding of the marketplace, so if you want to get ahead you need to be brilliant. Your need to be visible

You need to be brave enough to share your expertise—you need to stand out as who you are, to own your story, to live by your values and to share your expertise so that we get to know you and how you can help us.

Staying invisible is the anti-thesis of owning your spotlight—in fact, it’s not brilliant at all.

The need to stand out in your market has never been stronger than it is today. But 5 shadows work hard to keep you invisible:

  1. Self-doubt
  2. Fear of being different
  3. Fear of failure
  4. Tall poppy syndrome
  5. Resistance to change

Which of these is hampering your success right now?

Let’s kick the shadows to touch and maximise our chances of finishing the year strong


business mentor, fear of failure, Imposter syndrome, reconnect, Self doubt, success habits

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