YOU (*gasp*) DON’T (*wheeze*) SUCK! (*faint*)
Teaching the thing you need to learn yourself.
When I first started at Flagrant, I was moved (and a little weirded out) by how much freedom we all had. We could just…bring ideas forth? And discuss desired outcomes? And contribute something meaningful to the culture? WHAT IS THIS, SOME KIND OF SICK JOKE?
I thought long and hard about what my contribution would be. What could the writer teach the developers and designers that isn’t a cringey haiku workshop? After a few sweaty weeks of absolutely nothing coming to mind and feeling entirely unqualified to lead a thing it came to me:
That’s it! I think I suck all the time! I’ll host an Imposter Syndrome Workshop!
I pitched the idea via Flagrant’s Experiment Framework and received buy-in from the team even though my pitch literally ended with: Accountable Party - Morgan! Oh god! Can I do this? I have to go to the bathroom.
Here’s how the three-part, hour-long Zoom workshop came into being.
PART 1: Know Thyself From The Inside Out
Imposter Syndrome is often tied to our identities and sense of self-worth. So we started with a psychology lesson.
Each participant took an Enneagram Test prior to our meeting to understand their key motivators (fears and desires).
We then processed those findings together to explore how our personal brand of inner critic manifests, and discuss how we could prevent our mindsets from degrading into unhealthy patterns.
The Takeaway: The realization that a lot of the inadequacy we feel is self-inflicted. AND! A common framework/vocabulary to process our reactions and feelings.
PART 2: See Yourself From The Outside-In
We view ourselves far more critically than the people who choose to spend their lives with us. We examined this by writing everyone in the company anonymous hype letters.
We held this portion of the workshop at our in-person company summit, and carved out a couple hours for quiet reflection.
The extroverts were invited to share their musings aloud with the room.
The introverts were welcome to absorb quietly and keep their hype letters close-by for delicate days.
The Takeaway: Everyone received an envelope of love akin to elementary school Valentine’s Day. It’s the external validation many of us need without the uncomfortable face-to-face interaction that can make it so hard to receive.
PART 3: The Role of the Workplace
A co-worker brought up the fact that Imposter Syndrome isn’t just a self-doubt thing. It can be tied to toxic external factors like systemic bias, racism in the workplace and exclusion from company activities.
Though we enjoy a progressive culture at Flagrant, this was an important lens to view Imposter Syndrome through.
Each workshop participant received a copy of Tali’s Book “Confessions From Your Token Black Colleague” and was encouraged to contribute questions to bring forth. Tali answered some pretty honest stuff from us, like “how to avoid creating a flavor of the month diversity workshop,” helping us leave our own bubbles to understand there’s always more work to do.
The Takeaway: Imposter Syndrome can be exponentially magnified when one’s age, cultural identity, sexual orientation and physical abilities are not embraced in the workplace. At the very least, we should be doing no harm. At our very best, we should be exploring all kinds of leadership styles from racial, ethnic, and gender identities that look nothing like our own.
PART 4: Feedback or Bust!
Was any of this helpful? Or was everyone playing a secret drinking game whenever I said “Um?”
Did I mention I had COVID while leading the first part of the (remote) workshop? My brain fog linked arms with my imposter syndrome and they both totally hazed my heart into thinking everyone hated everything. Neat! To (hopefully) disprove this, I created a very simple and anonymous post-workshop poll to gauge the effectiveness of YOU DON’T SUCK.
I was heartened by the thematics:
- Every participant found the experience valuable in terms of gaining skills and learning new tools.
- Each portion of the three-part workshop was favored by someone, demonstrating the importance of approaching a subject from different angles.
- Community was a huge takeaway. Participants felt much less alone in their struggles with self-doubt.
- There was still work to do on illuminating the context, encouraging group participation, and breaking things down into more manageable chunks. But hot damn, people actually wanted to go deeper!
So What Did We Learn? Apart From Everything You Just Read?
To tame the monsters under your bed, you must first name them.
If you’re looking for a team to help you discover the right thing to build and help you build it, get in touch.