Tackle Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. Here are three ways to tackle imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It’s standing in front of an audience as a keynote speaker and an inner voice saying “Why me? So and so is much better? I am not an expert.”
It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, especially women who find it difficult to own their accomplishments, although I have heard men claim the same feelings . To overcome these doubts, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to ever higher standards. The pressure will eventually impact your emotional and physical well-being.
What women tell us they are looking for are key actionable tips that help them get out of this state of semi-panic. Imposter syndrome is complex and can be rooted in multiple causes which means that any recommended strategies to tackle it can vary from one person to another.
But here is a general framework with three key ways to tackle imposter syndrome.
1. Create a success log
One of the root causes of impostor syndrome is a lack of ownership of your own achievements and a tendency to make constant comparisons with others. So, it’s important to track your own achievements and write them down. This helps to give them a life which is why creating a success log is important further embedded when you write smethig down. Update your LinkedIn profile so that you can share your success and celebrate with others
Using the Be FABulous (Facts, Achievements Benefits) formula, record your successes on a weekly basis. What did you achieve and learn this week? You can do this physically in a notebook, on a beer mat, or on your phone – it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to do it.
Make sure you use powerful language and remember to include metrics.
How do those wins look? Great right?
Worth a read: Achievements for your LinkedIn profile
This exercise puts everything you have done into a new perspective and will counteract your tendency to undervalue and downplay your achievements and your self-worth. Owning and celebrating achievements is essential if you want to avoid burnout, build self-confidence and find purpose.
Get this one exercise done and the other two elements fall into place more naturally.
2. Let go of perfectionism
Perfectionism and imposter syndrome hang out together. It’s also important to understand that most things can be good enough. They don’t have to be perfect. Who is defining that anyway? There is frequently a little voice in your head, very often rooted in your childhood that you have to do better. Doing better means BEING better in your head. Not being perfect is being imperfect.
The function of perfectionism is a way of seeking approval and confirming your self-worth worth, which was perhaps denied when you were growing up. The only approval you need is your own.
Not all perfectionism is harmful, but it can become maladaptive when to quote Brené Brown “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.”
Perfectionists have high expectations for themselves and their teams. When things don’t go to plan they are riddled with self-doubt. Being a perfectionist can make people micro-managers and control freaks who take on too much work because they think they are the only ones who can get something right and done.
Learn to take mistakes and disappointments in your stride, viewing them as a natural part of life. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, until you are completely ready and qualified. Practise taking calculated risks to avoid procrastination and delays.
Being able to ask yourself some key questions is important
- Am I striving for progress or perfection?
- Are my expectations realistic?
- Will the extra effort make a meaningful difference here?
- Is this good enough?
3. Reframe the language
Rather than focusing on a disappointment, loss, or a perceived failure, concentrate on the lessons you have learned. Look at whatever happened from multiple points of view. Switch from “but” to “and.”
“So I didn’t get the promotion
- and I learned that I needed to acquire x additional skills
- and my now boss knows my goals and ambitions
- and I put myself forward.
- and now I have interview experience in the promotion process.
- and maybe I should think about testing the job market.
Remember competent people know when to ask for help and always surround themselves with those who have skills they lack.
Worth a read: Time to reframe our language about women
And remember also “better done than perfect” to quote Sheryl Sandberg.
Confidence is as important as competence for career progression. If you need further help, try our Self-Confidence Coaching Programme.