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  • Writer's pictureArjanna van der Plas


I always feel ashamed when my imposter syndrome comes up again. As a coach, I should know better than to let my inner critic run the show, right?

But I have to admit I was living the definition of imposter syndrome this week, a.k.a. I was experiencing “feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

I was looking at my rather empty calendar for the week, frantically thinking of strategies to attract new clients, but not actually taking any substantial action. I told my partner that I felt like a failed business owner, and he looked at me and smiled.

“Lieverd, might it be possible that you put Henk in charge again?”, he asked. Henk is his nickname for my most active inner critic (more about Henk here). All Henk cares about is comparing me to whoever he considers to be the pinnacle of success, and making me feel stupid for not being as rich and famous as they are yet.

“It’s not really a surprise that your calendar is emptier than normal after two months of long COVID, right? And wasn’t business slow in the beginning of the year last year as well? And by the way, didn’t you want to take it slow, to prevent getting sick again?”

I love-hate it when my husband is so right.

The funny thing about Henk is, that he tends to completely ignore what my personal definition of success is.

He forgets that I am really grateful for not having to work my ass off like I did in my startup job. He forgets how picky I am about the projects I do, because I only want to do work that is meaningful and impactful. He forgets that I don’t want to apply any sleazy sales techniques, because I want to have genuine relationships with my clients.

And literally the moment I told my students in my beloved Coaching Fundamentals program about Henk this Tuesday, no less than two emails arrived in my inbox with two dream assignments: one to provide a series of coaching sessions on the precious topic of feedback, and another to organize a stakeholder dialogue to develop shared visions on citizen-led energy initiatives.

I guess I am writing this email to you partly as a note to myself, to remind me and you to never forget what success (and the ideal road to success) looks like for us, and to always trust that when we put ourselves out there in a genuine way, the right opportunities will find us at the right time.

I am curious to hear about your definition of success! What are you optimizing for in life?

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