Shaking Off The Impostor Syndrome

May 12th, 2015

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“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt”

– Author Unknown
Hands up if you have ever thought to yourself ‘that’s it, the game is up. When this happens, people will realize that I don’t actually know as much as they think I do?’

A quick Google search will reveal that you are not alone in thinking that you suffer from that nagging feeling of not being good enough or that given enough time people will discover that you are not as amazing as you appear.

In fact not only are you not alone, you are in good company! People such as Kate Winslet, Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and Michelle Pfeiffer have, despite their obvious and widely recognised achievements suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

“I convince myself I’m fooling people.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)

“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” (Michelle Pfeiffer)

“Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud.” (Emma Watson)

Quite simply the Imposter Syndrome leaves you feeling like a fraud because you think your accomplishments are nowhere near as good as the people around you. Often they are, but the high standards that you apply to yourself leave you feeling like a sham.

Valerie Young author of the book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women describes The Impostor Syndrome as that feeling of “always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You feel as if you’ve flown under the radar, been lucky or they just like you. If you dismiss your accomplishments and abilities, you’re left with one conclusion: You’ve fooled them.”

Whilst it is reported that more women than men are affected, recent statistics suggest that up to 65% of the population has experienced it at one time or another. The condition is particularly evident in Type A, highly successful and career driven personalities. Granted we are all susceptible to thoughts and feelings of self-doubt, but when they shape our decisions and actions and prevent us from pursuing our ambitions we place ourselves (and our careers) in real danger.

Take a look at some of the signs to look out for below. Do you recognise any in yourself or in the people you lead?

  • Not applying for promotions or other new opportunities because you don’t feel as though you address every single criteria
  • Downplaying or understating your experience and or skill set with the language that you use: ‘It was just a X’ or ‘It is only really due to X’
  • Attributing your accomplishments to luck or success
  • Avoiding opportunities to showcase your achievements to others in your field because they are considered more highly skilled and experienced
  • Feeling unqualified because someone else holds a higher level degree than you

No doubt you have heard of the saying ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. But what happens when you still feel like your faking it, even you when you have made it? Chances are you are not only limiting career options but you are stunting both personal and career growth.

So what are some of the actions we can take to overcome the Impostor Syndrome?

  1. Develop awareness: One of the most effective techniques to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to simply acknowledge that it does exist. Learning how to recognise it and identify the tell tale signs of down playing or discounting your experience will help you to put it back in perspective and help you to move forward in your career.
  2. Be objective: Understand that feelings are not facts. Gather the evidence with an objective mindset. All too often we are able to look at the facts objectively for others but not ourselves. Was it really just down to luck or did you actually invest time, learning and hard work on that project?
  3. Stop the comparison game: In the words of Mark Twain ‘Comparison is the death of joy’. Not only is it damaging to your self confidence but all too often what you are comparing yourself against is inaccurate and does nothing to support you achieve your goals.
  4. Strive for value and not perfection: Perfectionism is the equivalent of paralysis. It creates unwarranted stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately limits value. Gaining clarity around your talents and strengths and how to best apply them will provide you with greater confidence in the value you offer and generate.
  5. Celebrate your milestones: It is more than just A Stroke of Luck that has seen you achieve your success. Recognize the efforts, knowledge and hard work that you have invested in and used to help you achieve the milestones in your career. Own it …loud and proud!

Creating and maintaining successful careers takes courage. It requires you to embrace challenges, walk into unknown territory and step up and out of your comfort zone. It means shaking off your fears and self-doubt and recognizing and celebrating your accomplishments.

When you do not only will you create career options but also opportunities to showcase your true potential and fulfill your ambitions.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot Andersen[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to confidently grow your own career or those you lead please call Margot on  0400 336 318.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”http://talentinsight.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=961a17dac8287c94458c7983d&id=f81e0aac65″]

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