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On 17 January 2019, our three networking and support communities (IP & ME, IP Out and Women in IP) together laid on a fantastic event about the role of “Allies, advocates and supporters”. In the audience was career and leadership coach Jo Maughan, who has provided two very popular webinars for IP Inclusive: “Imposter syndrome” and “Dealing with strong emotions at work”. With her characteristic warmth and candour, Jo has written a blog post for us, explaining what the event meant to her and the implications of some of the topics it addressed.

Jo writes:

Have I got a new take on the recent “Allies, Advocates and Supporters” event? I don’t know. Maybe. What I do know is that it’s as valid as everyone else’s. And when I’m fully valuing myself and my point of view I can share it. Here it is:

Yes, I agree with what the panel said: We can’t understand somebody’s perspective or experience unless we ask them. We can’t know how we can help another unless we ask them. We can’t change somebody else’s seemingly judgemental comment unless we call it (the comment) out, and seek to understand.

You need to have courage and self-esteem to do all these things. This is my view.

Courage to step into the unknown and to listen to the other. Self-esteem to believe that we and the other are fundamentally okay as human beings, and that both our thoughts and feelings are equally valid.

Courage and self-esteem are undermined by self-doubt. Believe me, I know. I used to have loads of self-doubt. I used to feel fluttery anxious before speaking in large meetings, and when I did speak my voice was uncertain and wavering. Self-doubt would hold me back from offering to help someone. I’d think: “Who me? What do I know? I’m not experienced enough.” It’d hold me back from calling out questionable behaviour. I’d think: “Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe it’s me. Maybe no one else feels uncomfortable.”

It’s only since I learned to esteem myself (yes, it can be learnt), that I’m fully open to being an ally and supporter of anyone and everyone including people who on the surface seem different from me, and who I’d not have spent much time with before. It feels fantastic! And the best thing is…when I’m esteeming myself, others pick up on it and esteem themselves too.

If your self-doubt is stopping you from being the ally and supporter you want to be (and know inside you can be), take hope. It’s possible to break free of constant self-doubt so you can step forward to help others in your unique way. What helped me was the course I now teach. Check it out at www.empower4success.net . Contact me on jo@jomaughan.co.uk or 07771 542457 to chat and discuss if the course could be for you.

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