Eibhlin on Snake Dike Yosemite National Park, USA

Back yourself to beat the imposter

I remember a conversation I had with a client who was going through a tough time in a new role.  Her direct reports were not operating as the executive role they occupied.  The CEO had a strategy to deal with each one, but she had hit rock bottom. It was seemingly an impossible gig, on this one day I checked in on them. Expletives took over their vocabulary. They doubted their ability to succeed. They doubted their grit. It felt too much right now. The imposter syndrome was in full swing.

We chatted; or rather I listened to their nightmare, in the metaphorical cone of silence.

And then I shared my Snake Dike story
Eibhlin Standing Mirror Lake
Me taking a break at Mirror Lake inbound to the start of the route up Half Dome

I was about a 150m up this world renowned classic rock climbing route, in Yosemite national Park in the US. Foostering over the next move. It felt out of balance, I felt out of balance. It was an extended reach for me, being a quite a bit shorter than my climbing partner. Additionally, I wasn’t sure if I would make the move without slipping and potentially taking a swing on the rope. Snake Dike isn’t a difficult climb. It’s well within my climbing abilities on a bad day, but it’s so exposed, you’re so high up, you’re just waiting for the eagles to swoop in and have a bite! But not the bears, its too hard a climb for them once you’re up this high! Your doubt begins to creep in, and you have no one to talk it out with. Hello imposter syndrome.

Eibhlin climbing Snake Dyke in Yosemite National Park, USA
On Snake Dike, that's not snow, it's the colour and texture of the rock

There was clearly no back tracking

I looked down. There was clearly no going down. About 16 people (8 pairs) were getting organised to follow us up the 250 metre+ route. Climbing down was going to be more challenging than risking forward motion. Furthermore, climbing down was also going to upset quite a lot of people, including my partner who needed me to finish the route for his sake.

All I could see was Yosemite Park laid out before me, thousands of meters below, the naked rock of Half Dome disappearing 150m above me, and a 100 m drop, with eager climbers waiting to get started. It was a lonely, but beautiful place, right then, and I was distracted from the task at hand.

Half Dome which has the classic route Snake Dike
Half Dome with Snake Dike starting from the right hand side tree line...ish

What is the worst that could happen?

I’d take a swing, graze my flesh somewhere, possible tear a bit of clothing, maybe be a little embarrassed. Nothing I couldn’t handle nor survive. I gave myself a pep talk…

“This is the crux, that one challenging move on a route that if you can do it, the climb is done! It’s within my capabilities. I’m letting my perception of the environment affect my confidence to execute this move. I’m fit and this type of move is my thing. Just go for it FFS.” ​

So I did, one nice, beautiful sweeping move and I passed the crux, and reached stability. God it felt amazing!

Exorcise the demons

Once my client exorcised themselves, I reminded them that THEIR plan was solid. THEY had to stick at it, and keep moving forward. THEY had to stop listening to the voices in their head about how bloody hard it all was. THEY knew the outcome the business needed, they were supported, and THEY had to focus on that. They just hit the crux move that required them to push through. That’s how you beat the imposter syndrome.

Next time you’re in doubt, feel free to question yourself, but don’t become paralysed. Check whether your frame of reference is still right, have confidence in your plan, give yourself that pep talk, talk to your mentors, and back yourself to make it work!

High rope over Yosemite Valley
At the top of climb some crazy people were high roping 3000 ft above the valley floor. Perspective!

Second guessing yourself is a normal experience when under pressure, but what defines us is whether we step up, back ourselves and make the move, or not. Don’t allow the imposter syndrome to let you live a small life.

#liveabiglife #getagripofthegrind #noregrets #impostersyndrome #adventurouslife #performance

Me at the top of Half Dome after finishing Snake Dike
Me on the shoulder of Half Dome

If you like what you’re reading why not join us for our annual Get A Grip of the Grind festival held the last weekend in February in Bright, NE Victoria (26-28 Feb 2021) and get your own epiphanies. Our podcast AIFE tells tales about women who are rocking their world. As we learn to live with Covid our weekend warrior programs have recommenced as part of The AIFE Series. You can join us on one of these weekend adventures which can be found on our website.

Sign up