I recall coaching a very successful vice president of a large firm who confessed struggling with the imposter syndrome in his career. He was bright, smart and a hard worker, yet he felt his success was a fluke and he questioned if he really deserved to be in his position.
The irony was that when it was promotion time in the organisation, he was the first to secure it from amongst his peers!
The world of imposter Syndrome is a secret world, inhabited by successful people from all walks of life who have one thing in common – they believe that they are not really good enough.
They believe that they are fraudulently claiming to be something they are not and that others have an inflated view of their abilities or skills. They also fear they will be found out and exposed as a fake.
They attribute their success to external factors, such as luck or an extraordinary level of hard work.
If you are struggling with the imposter syndrome it probably makes you feel on edge all the time resulting in being excessively cautious and at times withdrawn.
A behaviour trait of people suffering from imposter syndrome is that you hesitate to share your point of view and mask your true opinions for the fear that your perceived lower intellectual capacity will be found out. This normally leads to adopting the view of others, even if you do not agree with them.
Your beliefs about yourself hold you back from the sense of fulfilment that you long for. You work harder and pursue perfectionism. But you can work to the point of feeling burned out and may be stressing those around you with your unrealistic expectations.
Promotion should be an exciting time but, it may provoke the fear in you that others will find out that the promotion is undeserved.
Overall the imposter syndrome keeps you away from being your best self and creating the life you truly desire. This makes it important to identify and manage the imposter that seemingly lurks within you.
1. Stay connected to your strengths regularly – Human tendency is to focus on what is wrong vs what is right. Psychologists term this the negativity bias. Our brain looks for and focuses on what is lacking within us and it takes conscious effort to shift the brain’s thinking.
Hence it becomes crucial to regularly remind yourself of your strengths and recall times when you used them effectively in the past. The more you do this, the more your mind gets attuned to your positive traits.
Get feedback from trusted colleagues and friends on your strengths. You may discover new ones that you were unaware of! You will begin to see yourself as someone who deserves to be in the room.
2. Boost your self-awareness so you can detect early signs of imposter syndrome sneaking into your thoughts. As thoughts of self- doubt begin to creep in, catch yourself.
Imagine yourself twisting the thought and replace it with a more neutral or positive thought. Dip into the positive emotion the encouraging thought triggers and expand it.
3. Expectations from yourself – Be realistic about what you can achieve.
Consciously avoid setting unattainable standards and expectations and set yourself up for failure. Instead focus on growing in increments, as small successes will boost your confidence.
4.Avoid comparing yourself to others and their achievements - Comparison makes you feel you are not good enough and can stress you. If you begin to start comparing your weaknesses to another person’s strengths your self-esteem will suffer. Instead think of how you can use your own strengths to get what you want.
You feel you need to BE like someone else in order to be successful. Accept that you are unique.
5. Accept the benefit of the imposter syndrome - Instead of judging the imposter syndrome as a flaw, accept it as a growth opportunity and befriend it. Identify the positive intentions of the part that tries to convince you that you’re not good enough. Maybe you need to focus on something that you are ignoring.
Focus on believing in yourself and regaining your confidence. You have earned your place on the table
As you begin to ignore the imposter, its power will fade until one day it decides to exit or its power gets minimised!
Suggested Read: The Imposter Cure by Jessamy Hibbert