March 04, 2020 5 min read

For this blog article, I’d like to speak openly and honestly about what I feel to be the biggest challenge for me, during our startup journey. 

For reference sake, at this point in time, Henry and I have launched Series 1 of our Volant Wear Collection which is comprised of 2 x tees, 1 x shorts and 2 x socks. We have also launched The Badminton Podcast and have released 20 episodes and continue do do so on a weekly basis, with many more in the pipeline.

All-in-all, we are having a great time, learning so many new things and always being pushed to grow. And our journey was summed up perfectly by a previous blog post that Henry published. So if you haven’t read it, click HERE - because it’s a very interesting read, and tells you all about our failures and funny stories so far.

One of the biggest questions that I get asked about Volant Wear and The Badminton Podcast is: “so how’s it all going?”

I find this question to be very difficult to answer and often give a generic answer  such as “oh, it’s going fine”or “it’s slow but it’s moving”It’s like when someone asks you“what’s news?” or what’s been happening?” and even though a lot has been going on, you answer“not much. Same old” regardless. 

For me, there are 2 main reasons why I respond in such a generic way:

The first reason is just because it’s just easier to do so. In order to answer properly, the response will be longer, require more explanation and may be complex. It could be that I don’t feel like talking about it in great depth at that point in time or the person may not actually be interested!

Regardless, the generic response is the most convenient and efficient way to answer the question despite the fact that it relays the least amount of information.

The second reason gets a lot deeper and it relates to the feelings of judgement, public failure & embarrassment and something called the Imposter Syndrome. I don't tell many people about this, and being this vulnerable sometimes feels like this:

I often feel like I’m being judged about the success of anything I do - whether that be in my career, business, dentistry, Volant Wear or the podcast. It’s almost as if I sometimes feel afraid that if it’s not doing well, I’ve made a wrong choice and I have to somehow justify otherwise to the person I’m talking to.

I think it comes from my upbringing. I’ve always wanted to be good at everything that I do, to make myself and my family proud. To be worthy of the sacrifices that my parents made in order to give me the opportunities I have.

This happens up to a point where I compare myself with other people who are more “successful” or “worthy” than me. And if I’m not up to their level, I feel that I’m not good enough, people will judge me and that I’ve somewhat ‘embarrassed’ myself in public by taking something on that I’m not really doing ‘well’ in. (Note: all very subjective things!)

I find myself getting into a pattern where I feel that others are speaking about my ‘failure’ behind my back and that I’m a ‘fraud’ in trying to achieve things in areas that I don’t have any business being successful in. Which makes me feel like an imposter (and hence having a feeling of the Imposter Syndrome, which I'll discuss in more detail below).

So all in all, I try to avoid these feelings by giving people generic answers when they ask me how the business is going. This image is a great representation of it all:

Before I delve more into the Imposter Syndrome, I just want to ask you - do you ever feel the same? 

For those who aren’t aware of the Imposter Syndrome, be sure to keep reading. We also have a podcast episode (Episode 20 with Mia Naslund) which will talk about it too. One quick note: if you can really resonate with it, there’s four words which may help you: “you are not alone”. 

(Much of the information below has been extracted from an article written by Jess Franklin for the Monash Generator and is referenced below)

Imposter syndrome is that voice in the back of your head telling you that all of your accomplishments can’t be attributed to you, and you’re not as good as people tend to think. Attributing your successes to pure luck, or some big mistake that no-one has realised.

The outcome of this syndrome (or phenomenon) is often a feeling that you’re not as good as those around you. Followed by a crippling fear that someone will figure this out and expose to the world that you’re a giant fraud. Feelings that can be so crippling that it can actually stop people from ever starting.

It’s incredibly common for people from all backgrounds and professions. It’s just that not many of us talk about it. In fact, it has been estimated that nearly 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their life.

For many, the experience of imposter syndrome goes something like this;

  1. You get anxious about doing a task or project that feels out of your depth - so you procrastinate, spend too much time on it or rush to finish it.
  2. Phew. You’re glad that task is done. So you feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.
  3. People see your work and try to tell you what a great job you did. But from where you stand, you don’t deserve the praise because it’s not perfect, so they’re just saying it to be nice.
  4. And of course, you then feel anxious again and inadequate.

At the core of the imposter syndrome is how we compare ourselves with others.

When we create an image of ourselves, it’s based on a lifetime of our feelings, experiences and the feedback we’ve received from others.

When we assess others, we create stories based on far less information, which is often limited to what we’ve observed and what they’ve told us (ie: only half of the actual story!)

So really, imposter syndrome is just a matter of misperception - and usually we aremuch harsher on ourselves than we are of others. 

---

So with these contributing factors, which can be summed up well by the Imposter Syndrome, this is why I sometimes struggle to answer the simple question:“so how’s it all going?” and default to responding with a generic and safe answer.

Pushing through this is what makes me better and stronger each day. Even though it’s hard, I believe that’s what it’s going to take to make a true mark on the badminton world. And it also definitely helps to have Henry fighting the same battles alongside me.

Lastly, if you feel this way, don’t be afraid to open up and tell someone about it. Remember that vulnerability isn’t weakness - it’s in fact power. And just the process of writing this article has already liberated some feelings of weakness and insecurity inside of me.

We'd love to hear your opinions, comments, tips and tricks so please feel free to comment below. If you would like us to write about something in particular, please let us know!
Main image source: Volant Wear
Body image source 1: Volant Wear
Body image source 2: The Good Men Project
Body image source 3: WillowTree Apps
Body image source 4: Medium.com

 

Reference: https://www.monash.edu/entrepreneurship/news/articles/imposter-syndrome-part-1?mc_eid=0d3abbde14&mc_cid=6f4f46a947

Jeffrey Tho
Jeffrey Tho

Jeff is an ex-national badminton player who represented Australia twice at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, All England Championships and multiple Thomas and Sudirman Cups. He currently assists in coaching the Australian National Team and is the co-founder of Volant Wear. Jeff loves badminton and is extremely passionate about helping the world realise and understand how incredible our sport really is.


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