Gordon Fraser of ‘Gordon Fraser & Associates’: How To Thrive Despite Experiencing Impostor Syndrome
Give myself a break and be consciously kind to yourself. It’s really a form of self-criticism. Imagine you had a friend who constantly whined about you not being perfect. How long would you be friends? Exactly. As you become more aware you can slow down and stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations.
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 Gordon Fraser of Gordon Fraser & Associates.
Award-winning sales and leadership expert, internationally renowned coach, and philanthropist, Gordon is amongst the most successful 1% in his industry and viewed as one of the leading visionaries in his field.
Gordon has inspired and educated audiences around the world. His presentations and training at Global Training Conferences have been attended by audiences of tens of thousands. Gordon has shared the stage with motivational speakers such as Rachel Hollis Mel Robbins, Connie Podesta & Paul McKenna. Sharing his thoughts and solutions with his audiences; his ideas touch and transform the way they feel about themselves and others.
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’?
My pleasure, thank you so much for asking me. I was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. My parents were entrepreneurs and we lived along that ancient, rugged and romantic castle strewn coastline made famous by William Wallace (Braveheart), the poet, Robert Burns and currently the Netflix series, Outlander. It was an inspiring place to live for a young boy with a fertile imagination.
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?
I was often described as “The Man in a Woman’s World!” — which I always found quite curious, but I suppose it was a sort of backhanded compliment — so I’ll take it. The reason the catchphrase was coined was because my company was made famous by its Skincare & Beauty products, and because of that positioning it traditionally didn’t attract men in their droves.
It was in 2007, during the start of the big recession that my career in this industry started and despite the economic downturn (and the seeming impediment of being a man), I accomplished much and received a tremendous amount of reward and recognition for my work and efforts. As a consequence, I became the poster boy for the company and the following years were a very interesting experience for me, indeed.
The reason I’m sharing this story, is to illustrate how some people like to categorize and box others to make themselves feel safe. This short-sighted view can only remove choice and limit potential.
Some men can be challenged in taking opportunities they perceive as female dominated industries too, like it affects their male machismo or something and they can see it as a negative. I had those thoughts too, but I decided to re-imagine them into a huge benefit, and by reframing the opportunity it separated me from the crowd and gave me a competitive advantage in the market. The lesson for me was, don’t let your ego cloud your judgement as it might stop you from realizing your big opportunity is in front of you.
My opinion is that if your intentions are good, the fundamentals of a company are excellent and you firmly believe you’ve got the ability and can develop skills to succeed with the product offering your considering, then I say, “GO FOR IT!” make sure you fight for the opportunity to sit at the table you choose. It’s always worth it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Without compromise, the company I represent was founded on strong fundamentals which have long since stood the test of time and is still what people desire today.
Our approach had always been methodical in nature with a focus on the consistency of product quality, safety, consultant care whilst maintaining an inclusive and vibrant culture.
In 1980, people weren’t particularly interested in the concept of community, green products, recycling, the ingredients to avoid in food/skincare, carbon neutrality, veganism or even why animal testing is unnecessary but in today’s World they’re front and centre of consumers choices. Now other companies are all trying to figure out how to encompass these values into their products whilst we’ve got years and years of research and development into those areas, and now it’s our heritage and our expertise which brings us the credibility and trust which ultimately makes us stand out from the crowd.
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?
There have been so many people at specific moments whos’ kindness, advice or influence has made significant impact to my success. As I think on it, most of these people have been women and the person who really started the domino effect for me was Mrs Nan Lindsay. She was a businesswoman of note and a player in the British Motor Industry when I was growing up. She and her husband owned a car dealership which was once the family garage and base of the Formula 1 racing car champion, Sir Jackie Stewart.
My dad knew John Lindsay and it was he who managed to get me a job washing cars for £1 per hour at their garage!!! I wasn’t very good at it, but I looked like one of the family and so when I turned 16, I was promoted to the “petrol pumps” (and the little shop) with a further raise of 20p per hour!! They said it was good for business.
After 6th year at school, I moved to Glasgow. Nan got me a job as a waiter in the exclusive Parklands Country Club (because she knew the owner) and it was there that I met my friend Caroline, who, some 20-odd-years later introduced me to the company I’ve been referring to today!!!
I’ll be forever grateful for Nan who hired me to wash cars. I remember washing the cars and thinking of escaping to a life in Hollywood, USA: who knew that the path I’d eventually take would lead me to Los Angeles and fulfil my childhood dreams…
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?
Many high achieving men and women suffer from the behaviour this syndrome has and because of this could be holding themselves back in different aspects of their life for fear of failure. They often feel less than or “not good enough” and from my observations it can often be rooted in childhood.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
It’s often the fear of failure. Many people who suffer from this syndrome are also perfectionists. Maybe they were criticised as kids and felt they had to “overachieve” and be perfect in all ways to feel worthy of love. The irony of is, they sometimes won’t start something or change anything in their life unless it can be perfect. So, if they can’t execute the task or make an experience perfect, they might not attempt it at all, thereby leading to a life of limitation.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
Running with the example of perfectionism. Their standards are super high and often relationships are affected by this because no-one can live up to their expectations or the by-product could also be a form of passive aggressiveness because the sufferer isn’t able to articulate confidently as an adult in order to get their needs met.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
I’ve seen this syndrome first-hand many times, but this story happened when I was a budding young actor and had the opportunity of working with a famous American Director at London’s Haymarket Theatre in The West End. The cast included an A-list actress (who was also known as the ‘Town Crier’ because of her ability to cry on demand) and the cast, other than this marvellous leading lady were either L.A.M.D.A or R.A.D.A graduates.
On the first day of rehearsal (as we were going through her scene) she broke down in tears…copious amounts of tears — through the sobs exclaimed, “I’m not good enough. I don’t feel worthy amongst this peer group” sob, sob, sob etc… (As you can imagine, this went on for a while…)
As it turned out, despite her accomplishments she’d NEVER gone to Drama School. She was given her BIG break from a famous British writer who was a family friend, and it was he who gave her first role and as they say, the rest is history but because of that she must have felt like a fraud and now was being un-masked in front of those who had gone through the legitimate route and been validated for their talent.
Anyway. Fast forward a few years…she’s now in receipt of an Academy Award for Best Actress but I’ve often wondered if she still feels the same today despite all the awards and fame? Maybe I’ll call her! ;)
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
For me, most of the time, yes, but I do have to manage it. When I’m super-tired or feeling stressed it does sometimes rear its ugly head and I think “how can I be this person that I present to the world when really I only wash cars for £1 per hour and I just got lucky”.
What is true is that I’ve acquired the skills and tools to manage those thoughts when they pop up. So, when those moments happen, I can take steps to change the story.
I check in with myself. If I’m overly tired — I catnap or go to bed early and ensure I’m sleeping well — resolving the physical need often recalibrates my thinking. It’s being introspective enough to understand what triggers you. So, if I’m feeling lonely — I’ll call a friend and have a chat. If I’m hungry I’ll have a snack, if I’m angry I meditate. These are my first steps to manage my thinking. If this doesn’t solve the problem, then I’d seek professional help.
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.
- Separate Fact from fiction. Write a factual inventory of achievements to support how you want to feel and what you’ve accomplished.
- Keep a list of compliments, thank you’s and accolades to refer to when feeling low.
- Give myself a break and be consciously kind to yourself. It’s really a form of self-criticism. Imagine you had a friend who constantly whined about you not being perfect. How long would you be friends? Exactly. As you become more aware you can slow down and stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations.
- Affirmations. Listen to or create a recording of positive affirmations which can support how you want to feel.
- Take the next indicated step. Regardless of how you feel, if you take the next indicated step or make the next choice based on your factual list — even if you don’t do it perfectly will help you to move forward and make better choices. Doing something badly is better than doing nothing at all.
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. :-)
They say it was curiosity that killed the cat. They were wrong, it was comparison. I’d ban social media to the under 16’s and make meditation compulsory in schools. That would be a start…
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 :-)
This isn’t the Tartan Mafia in operation but I’m a great admirer of Sir Billy Connolly. Over and above him being a comedy legend and someone who’s given me immense pleasure from his work over the years, I firmly believe he’s one of the great thought leaders of our time. His observations and philosophical musings have been inspirational to me and I’d love to even just see him on the street let alone grab a virtual coffee with him. That would be enough and if Rd. Pamela Stevenson were to Facetime bomb, then life would be bliss…
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you. You can follow me at @itsgordonfraser on Instagram or gordonfraser.blog for more articles and observations!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!