Your Brilliant Career Podcast

The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career

This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.



Have you ever found yourself putting others on a pedestal at work? They appear more experienced, exude confidence and are brilliant at what they do. As a result, you make the assumption that they are somehow smarter and more capable than you are.

In this episode, we’ll explore how this thought-process can affect not only your potential, but also the success of your team and company, and ways in which to reverse the narrative.

Links we talked about on the podcast include:

RISE Accelerate program:

My free guide on How to say 'no' without compromising your reputation:

Episode 38 - Stop people-pleasing and learn how to say no:

Episode 11 - It's not personal with Jane Huxley:

Don't forget to subscribe!

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Your transcript

[00:00:00] Gillian: Have you ever found yourself putting others on a pedestal at work? Like maybe they're more experienced than you, or you've seen them in action and they're excellent at what they do. They also exude confidence. And you assume because of those things that they're better than you, smarter, more capable. Now I know many women can relate to this.

[00:00:21] In their heads, they are creating stories about how much more accomplished the other leaders or stakeholders are compared to them. And what often happens as a result of this, they change their behaviour. They go to these meetings and they hold back their ideas, grapple with self-doubt. And stay quieter than they'd prefer.

[00:00:43] If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you're in good company. Be sure to that. But underestimating yourself is costly to your potential and even to the success of your team and the company you work for. So today we're going to explore how to stop overestimating other's potential and how to stop underestimating your own abilities. So, let's dive in.

[00:01:08] Welcome to another episode of the Your Brilliant Career podcast. As always, it is lovely to be here with you. I hope you've had a good few weeks. I feel like so much happens in a few weeks. Everything has been good in my world. My only gripe is I'm nursing a bit of an injury this week.

[00:02:14] And I think sadly for me, as I get older, I'm limited to the amount of running I can do. My body just doesn't like the intensity and my training regime needs to be slower, less intense. It has to incorporate yoga because I need to stretch. I mean, gone are the days of doing long runs and then heading to the coffee shop, right. Stretching, more thoughtful, well-paced. Yeah, it's a lot, but interestingly, I actually decided a few years ago after a hip injury, that I needed to stop doing running events. Now I've completed five marathons and I'm not sure how many halves, a lot, but I'm actually a bit of a 10 K girl these days with new aspirations of doing a half in Melbourne early next year and another in the middle of the year in the outback near Uluru.

[00:03:04] And I will do that with my husband, which if it all comes together, it will be a huge amount of fun, but this hasn't been a good week for training and I don't even know if I'm going to make it to run squad tomorrow. So it's a bit frustrating because you always aim for progress and running is one of those things that is very measurable.

[00:03:23] But I've also learned as I get older, that you have to listen to your body, like you have to rest and recover, find different ways to exercise and stay fit during these periods. And when I think about my own career, I've learned a lot from running over the years. So doing the marathons in particular taught me about discipline.

[00:03:43] It also gave me confidence in ways that I didn't even expect. So I know doing the 50k races that, well, the more that I perfected the processes from the training and building the distance effectively, the more the results would take care of themselves on race day and careers are no different. The more you perfect the processes, the more the results take care of themselves.

[00:04:08] And today we're talking about not selling yourself short, which I think we can do so quickly, and it compromises your performance at work and you know, your confidence can take a bit of a dip. My observation is that we can develop habits just over time organically without even noticing it. We can underrate ourselves in situations for multiple years, and then we can wonder why we're not progressing in that part of our career.

[00:04:41] Now, I remember when I was working back in magazines, I got into one of those loops and I felt very stuck. It was actually quite frustrating, and every time I landed in that spot, it felt awkward and it actually felt like I just wasn't good enough. And who wants that, right? And this is how it would play out for me.

[00:04:59] I'd attend a meeting with my publishers who were quite senior people in the organisation, or maybe it was external clients, senior people, and the thing is in the media industry, you have a lot of extroverts, big personalities. There's also a lot of blokes and some old school behaviour too, but the common link among this group of people in this situation is that they exuded gravitas and had brilliant knowledge. Like they were experts and that part was hard to ignore. They were very good at what they did. As I sat there in those situations in my early thirties. I couldn't help but feel that I was the youngest and least experienced person in the room.

[00:05:39] And in fact, that just wasn't my imagination. I was the youngest and least experienced in the room. I mean, that's just a fact data, but the problem was it was almost as if I assumed that everyone else at that meeting had already pegged me as not quite up to par with them due to my more youthful appearance.

[00:05:59] And I imagine people did look at me. And think that I was younger at the time, but then people just move on and there's no use hanging onto that because they have moved on to the next drama or the next thing to think about. So this self-doubt, this sense of inadequacy that I was experiencing in these moments, well, they just led me to take a back seat in some of those meetings.

[00:06:23] I held back my thoughts, my observations. I feared that I might come across as too junior, maybe to consultative, which I'm sure I did. Instead of projecting confidence and showcasing my expertise, I just chose this little place in the shadows. Yeah. I thought it was safe to reside over there and looking back because retrospect is a beautiful thing, right? Easy to look back, but looking back, it’s a bit of a shame because I know that had I backed myself in that moment, I could have contributed more confidently and assertively to the discussion. People might not have been super impressed with me, but they would have respected my insights. And it was a lesson learned for me about underestimating myself and realising that I was in that room for a reason as a senior leader with valuable perspectives to offer regardless of my age and experience. Yep. I was there for a reason. And I'm sure you are too. So these experiences, where we go into meetings and we question ourselves, are we enough?

[00:07:32] I know they're not unusual and they're not bad, you know, because we need to work through these things. I always think those situations are given to us for a reason because we need to figure some stuff out. You may have heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s a really interesting little study.

[00:07:49] They surveyed. undergrad students and they asked them a series of questions about grammar, logic, jokes, and then they asked the students to score themselves. Now, interestingly, the students who overestimated their score actually scored the lowest. And the students who underestimated themselves, they actually scored the highest.

[00:08:15] So this study shows that the best performers may actually underestimate themselves. Now I share this because this podcast, it is listened to by a lot of high performing women. I've always feel like I'm talking to smart, highly capable women who are invested in their career. but they're also challenged in different ways.

[00:08:38] And what we're talking about today is not something you necessarily shoot the breeze with your colleagues. You don't come out of a meeting, do you and say, I felt so depleted of confidence by the end of that meeting. They’re so much smarter than me. I mean, you just don't do that right. But sometimes we do have these experiences.

[00:08:58] And the goal is to manage ourselves effectively as effectively as we can when we're tested like that. High performers, no doubt, like yourself are notoriously tough on themselves. So, if that is you, your tendency to underestimate your capabilities will probably be greater than most. So, you have to do the work.

[00:09:20] Like I feel like podcasts like this with the things that we're going to go through, build your toolkit, do the work because you have to do it more than most, because it's very likely as a high performer that you could be underestimating yourself. So today I want to share with you three tips that are aimed at helping you shift gears and, and to help you to stop overestimating everyone else and put the spotlight back on you and start valuing your capabilities.

[00:10:00] Let's dive in and talk about insight number one, and insight number one is a beauty. And I just want you to listen for a little bit, because I know you've heard this before, but it is so important. And it's this. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Now we each have our own talents and abilities to offer and when you underestimate yourself professionally, you literally miss out on opportunities. When I got the job of leading the commercial arm of a magazine division, I'm really in magazine world today, I received cards and letters from friends and family congratulating me on this great step up opportunity.

[00:11:06] I felt pretty damn good about myself until I met some of my executive peers. And let me tell you about them. So one of them had launched and relaunched some of Australia's most successful titles, so very accomplished. Another had this incredible sense of style where she rocked up to work every day, literally looking like she jumped off one of the fashion pages. It was amazing. And another was married to a high-profile celebrity and she would effortlessly share entertaining inside stories. yeah, it was interesting. It was impressive for sure, but I questioned, did I fit in? And every day I came to work and I walked past these fabulous women and I felt like I was behind in the race. Compared to them I had accomplished so little and comparing is a trap that impacts so many of us, especially those of us who have big dreams and a need for accomplishment. But here's the problem. The impact of comparing yourself, it's actually detrimental. In fact, it fuels imposter syndrome and it makes you feel unworthy.

[00:12:18] So what can you do break free from the comparison trap? Well, here are two little simple tips that worked for me, and I hope they work for you too. And the first is this one, be your own best friend. Like when you talk to yourself, be kind, be understanding, never be mean. And how do you know when you're being mean?

[00:12:42] Well, listen to yourself carefully. If you wouldn't say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself. Simple as that. And tip number two is about documenting your achievements, and this is a very important point because when you're comparing yourself to others, you tend to focus on their strengths, their accomplishments, what they're achieving, and you ignore your own.

[00:13:07] So go ahead and make a list of your achievements. And I'm sure there's plenty. This is one of the things that we do in the RISE Program. It’s how you identify your achievements, how you document them in the right way, how you frame them up so they have that business context. And it's actually a game changer when you're going into things like your performance reviews or asking for a pay increase or having an important conversation. So document. Your achievements. 

[00:13:37] All right. Let's dive into insight number two… stop people pleasing. Okay. Now this is often how we feel accepted, in the workplace. It also allows us to gain recognition, but the problem is by saying yes and doing that whole people pleasing thing, it can be at the cost of your needs or even your mental health if you're being inundated, And it just leads to a place of either just plateauing off or just this sense of emptiness. Never model yourself on other's expectations but show up as yourself. That's where you've got to get very clear around what is important, what you value, what you're going to pull off, put your time and energy into that.

[00:14:19] I've written a comprehensive guide. on how to say no at work and in it I provide you with, gosh, lots of information. It's got step by step instructions on how to evaluate when to say no. It has scripts on how to say no, the language you need to use. It’s all there so you can sound confident, compelling, and you can do it all keeping your reputation intact.

[00:14:44] I often say that learning to say no is a skill. It's not something you're just kind of born with. It's a skill and it is available to all of us. And it does require understanding your relationship with the word no, and letting go of those people pleasing tendencies. So you can download the free guide. It’s on the website, It’s quite wordy, but I'll give it to you forward slash how hyphen two. Hyphen, say hyphen, no, but I will put it in the show notes. It's a bit of a mouthful, so it'll be below for you. You can access it there and it'll give you the opportunity to really redefine yourself and shift from being agreeable for the sake of being agreeable to someone who commands respects and delights in their achievements at work.

[00:15:35] I think I've shared this in previous podcasts about people pleasing because episode 38, I do cover this topic and I'll pop that episode in the show notes as well. If you want to dive in and have a look. But I will never forget working in magazines and having this very demanding editor asked me do something that wasn't really in our remit to do. It was a huge favour at a very challenging time for my team. And I actually said yes to her and there was a very strong case for saying no, but I said yes. And this editor, well, she was kind of like the Miranda Priestly devil wears Prada. She had this intensity and fear that she generated. and I said yes, because I catastrophized right in that moment. I thought she might marginalize me for the rest of my career if she didn't get her own way. And my poor, poor team had to step up that week in the most extraordinary way. No part of it felt good, can I tell you? But here's the thing. I didn't know how to hold my ground.

[00:16:41] I didn't know how to be more assertive, but I also realised that if I didn't get a grip of this, it was going to feel like an inevitable sequence of events because I was working with a lot of big demanding personalities and that, that whole experience, it left me feeling like a lousy leader. It made me underestimate my own capabilities.

[00:17:08] So I had to figure it out and I did figure it out. And that's why I'm so passionate about you figuring it out because most of us feel constantly pressed for time. You know, we try to do too much yet when someone makes a request at work, the tendency can be to say yes, without even thinking. It’s like a default response.

[00:17:27] And I think for many women, we feel like we have to do it all, but there's a problem with that. Yeah. Because we’re going in so many different directions, trying to do it all, making everyone happy, that we actually make little progress in any of those things. So many of the activities that we're saying yes to, it's just not the important stuff.

[00:17:50] You know, we're getting stuck in doing the trivial work. They're not the important tasks. They're not the tasks that are driving the strategic initiatives in the business. The stuff that you really want to hang your hat on the stuff that will make you shine at work. So think about how you can say no to more things at work. There’s some much fancier scripts than this in the download, but you can say, I would love to help, but I don't have the capacity at the moment, or I appreciate the offer, however, I'm unable to commit to that right now.

[00:18:25] Okay. Simple, I'm unable to commit to that right now, elegant, no drama. So what's a good action step here? Well, get the free guide on how to say no and for the next seven days, I want you to practice, hone in on one script and give it a red hot go. It will help you to stop underestimating your capabilities because by saying no to things, it demonstrates that you value yourself.

[00:18:52] It takes confidence for a person to know their worth and saying no, it takes that kind of confidence and you can do this. 

[00:19:03] Okay. I'm going to leave that one there, park that and move on to insight number three, which should probably be insight number one. I absolutely love this one. And it's move on quickly.

[00:19:14] Yes, move on quickly. Like often when people do or say things that rattle your cage in a meeting or work situation, like maybe they're genuinely rude or unreasonable, it’s easy to retreat inward, or maybe revert to combative. type of behaviour. I know I'm a retreat inward kind of girl and I get why that happens, but you need to move on and it needs to be a conscious choice to not concede in that moment.

[00:19:43] You need to take that seat back at the table and commit to being there. And I know it's uncomfortable. But you have to keep moving forward. I really stress that like set yourself a mini goal, do a Jane Huxley. So Jane, if you don't know, is a previous guest on the podcast. It's a great episode, actually.

[00:20:02] I'll pop that in the show notes as well, and she also featured in my book, Woman of Influence. And this was Jane's strategy… So when she went into a meeting and she felt stressed, challenged, she would write three letters quite small in the corner of her notepad, just so she could see them. It wasn't visible to others and it was a mental reminder for her to manage herself well in that situation when she felt she was being a bit tested. And those three letters were I N P and they stood for it's not personal. And she kind of used it as a mantra. It's not personal. It's not personal. And that was part of her toolkit, right? 

[00:20:47] So my question to you is, what's going to be part of yours? Like if you're tested, you know, in situations where if something happens in a meeting, you retreat or your behaviour changes and it's not supporting the results you want, what's going to be in your toolkit? You have to build your toolkit.

[00:21:07] Yep. Maybe you could steal Jane's idea. I give you lots of ideas in this podcast, but I strongly encourage you to acquire the things that are going to help you. And you can just go and try these things. No one will know. So there are three tips. I hope they're helpful. 

[00:21:27] I need to tell you something. I have some amazing guests coming onto the show shortly. I really do. I'm very excited and I have some incredible plans for you guys. So we're already in 2024 mode over here. So stand by for more. I’m planning to have our best year yet, and so much of it is about you. So it's pretty exciting and I will reveal more as the months pass.

[00:21:50] And finally, before I wrap up this episode on how to stop underestimating your capabilities, I want to remind you that you are more capable than you think. You have a great track record, I have no doubt about that, and I imagine you've had a good career thus far. I also imagine you have had people believe in you, rally for you and support you. So you are capable of great things. So, start believing that and make the most of your weeks. Thank you so much for being here. And I look forward to your company in a few weeks.