Ridicule the whole thing! — This was a game-changer for me. I realized, on a very deep level, that we all have the same right to pursue our passion in this world. Just like we all have an equal right to be happy and free. I realized I had every right to be in a room with prominent people and talk to them without feeling small and insignificant.
As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Tomaszewska.
Unorthodox, perceptive, fun. Alex Tomaszewska helps women who struggle with weight loss release it from their bodies using unique life coaching. A few years back she did it on her own, losing 16 pounds in 3 months without diets or gym. She fell head over heels in love with the process, enhanced it, and now takes clients all over the world on transformational journeys where weight loss feels almost like a side effect.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I was born into a family of engineers and became an IT engineer myself, being one of the 5 women in a class of over 300 people. It seemed like the perfect career for me. And it was… until the time I overdid it. There came a time when I was managing a team of 70 people while spending time after work in the role of a vice-president of a canine search and rescue organization. Suddenly the work overload put me at home for 18 months, sick with depression. Immediately after getting back on my feet, I quit my job, without any plan, and soon started working as kitchen help in a small restaurant, making dumplings, trying to figure out what’s next for me. A few months later, I fell in love with personal development, transformed who I was and became a coach. I have been evolving and getting into more specialized areas of coaching ever since!
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
All my life, I had been terrified of public speaking, to a point where even if you asked me something in a team meeting, my face would go red, my heart would pound like a pneumatic drill and wet spots would bloom under my armpits. It was bad.
Fortunately, I had a wonderful mentor who believed in me much more than I believed in myself. I went to a public speaking training and slowly started enjoying giving small presentations.
Two years later after the day he found me sweating outside a hotel before introducing myself to my 12-people team, he suggested I would be perfect to host the company conference for 500 people. I applied and got selected! There was no sweating, very little stage fright, and a 100 people came to congratulate me on the fantastic performance. Hosting that event is, to this day, one of the most memorable events in my life!
I love this story because it shows how quickly we can achieve the “impossible” when we have someone the right person by our side. The right motivator at the right time can work miracles!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe my coaching methods and my signature framework are unique. Clients often tell me they have never seen a program like mine, and they certainly appreciate how quickly they were able to open up to me.
This is because I use a blend of methods stemming in various parts of the world, I’m not afraid to be innovative and honest. I have many personal examples of overcoming obstacles and my clients know that whatever I am helping them with, I have already done it myself. This allows them to imagine what’s possible for them and makes them feel safe. Another point is that I am detail-oriented and it’s the details that make the big difference. When we overlook them, even the best solution may lead us nowhere!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Coincidentally, the story from the second question would fit here. But I have another one!
I am grateful to a few other coaches I have run across online. Each of these women only worked with me for a very short time, sometimes just one session. I must say that these sessions gave me more than coaching and mentoring programs I’ve been to. These women were focused on me and my needs and didn’t try to push me into a template.
That taught me about the power of a highly individualized approach, which is why I incorporated it into my practice — despite the advice of marketing gurus. I give my clients what they need now — not what I planned for them to need. Sometimes all we need is one word!
Finding that need in a client is one of the most powerful skills a coach can have.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?
People with impostor syndrome feel they are not good enough, like they don’t deserve what is offered to them, or, very often — what they already have. For instance, a position at a company, recognition, being called an expert.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
Impostor syndrome may make you self-sabotage your actions. For instance, if you don’t feel you deserve a position in your company, impostor syndrome may cause you to start making mistakes so that you prove to yourself you were right. It will make you nervous and afraid you will lose everything once people “discover” you are a fraud.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
A person experiencing Impostor Syndrome can feel like other people have more rights in this world than they do. They may be willing to agree to decisions which favour others, they may be going to extremes doing favours for others. On the other end, imposter syndrome can make you aggressive, because of the constant fear you are going to lose what you have. You may seem unavailable and not be a team player.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
I experienced impostor syndrome when I started my online coaching business. It hit me very hard. Suddenly I was on my own, without any support, without any achievements in the area. I realized I had built my confidence on a very fragile basis — of awards and praises at my company. I had to build everything from scratch, only now it was harder than ever. I felt I had to earn the right to be a coach, but it was impossible to do without having practice — and I was afraid to go out to the world and speak about my business. Some days I would wake up shaking, fearing the online world that I was going to face, waiting to be criticized.
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
It wasn’t as easy as shaking the feeling off, it took targeted mental work to get over the imposter syndrome. I can say I don’t suffer from it anymore. I Improved my self-confidence through a variety of mental exercises and actions I took on purpose. I also learned and assimilated the principals of how the universe, society and our brains work together — which gave me an understanding of exactly what was happening in my mind and why. It also allowed me to stop allowing emotions to drive my wellbeing.
In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Ridicule the whole thing! — This was a game-changer for me. I realized, on a very deep level, that we all have the same right to pursue our passion in this world. Just like we all have an equal right to be happy and free. I realized I had every right to be in a room with prominent people and talk to them without feeling small and insignificant.
- Listen to stories from your mentors — Find people, possibly mentors in your area of expertise, who have a story of recovering from imposter syndrome, and use those stories as a path to follow. They have been where you are and they got out of there — use it as motivation and inspiration. This method can get your through the most difficult days!
- Imagine yourself naked — I strongly believe that a person is only worth as much as they are worth when they are stripped of all their properties and external achievements. So picture yourself naked among all other people, also naked. Notice that the differences you saw between you and them are not as visible anymore, maybe they are even completely gone. This will allow you to look both at yourself and at them with a kinder eye!
- Straighten your values — Identify the values that impress you in yourself and in others. What is important for you and why? Honesty, kindness, punctuality? Now, make an honest inventory and check whether you are always displaying those values. Do you sometimes cross your own boundaries and then feel guilty? When we don’t show integrity in some area of life, we start losing respect to ourselves, and that fuels the Impostor Syndrome!
- Embrace your mistakes — Being harsh on yourself often gives positive results. Usually, it will only make things worse! Learn the skill of being forgiving to yourself, drop the perfectionism and be realistic about your journey. Remember that failures make us stronger and wiser — success without failures is impossible. Treat failures as what they are — lessons, and enjoy the journey!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A very interesting question. It would be fantastic to teach people how not to judge. That goes for judging others as well as ourselves. If we could all learn that one skill, the world would be a different place!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
I wouldn’t say no to having an egg and orange juice with Sir Richard Branson. I love how graceful and humble he is with all his achievements.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Social media (if you can include more links):
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/psychobiology.coach/
Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexUnchainedYou/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!