I remember the day I was given the award. The crowd was cheering as I walked up the stage of the conference room half-dazed. As I looked around the beautifully decorated hall and saw the faces of over a hundred seasoned professionals, I stared back in disbelief. How could they have named me the best? I could feel the chills run down my spine.
My head was spinning and my knees buckled. It couldn’t be possible. I couldn’t be the best. Surely there was someone else more deserving. What if they discovered that I was a fraud? I had overstated my work hadn’t I? Once again, I was forced to tackle my old adversary. I was fighting Imposter syndrome.
Harvard Business Review describes Imposter syndrome as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. It is that inner voice that says “who am I to know how to do this?”. Sounds familiar?
Research has shown that it is more common in women as well as in high achievers who set excessively high standards for themselves. It has also been tied to a perfectionist streak. People with imposter syndrome combat feelings of self-doubt and tend to downplay their accomplishments and self-sabotage.
Imposter syndrome is a source of psychological and emotional stress. It keeps you from truly enjoying the dividends of your hard work. For many years, I have dealt and still deal with imposter syndrome. However, I am overcoming it daily. Here are a few tips that I have found helpful.
- Change your thoughts – Acknowledge the thoughts that come and then replace them with confident thoughts. Build an internal validation system and give yourself a pat on the back. Have a list of your accomplishments and use those facts to combat your feelings.
- Re-program failure – Accept that failure in one thing doesn’t generally mean you’re a failure. Remind yourself that it is normal not to know everything. See failure as a learning opportunity. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the liberty to make mistakes.
- Speak out – Talking to someone you trust. People with better experience will help you see that it is normal to feel this way and provide a sense of support and community.
- Reward yourself – Reward yourself for doing a good job instead of attributing it to a stroke of luck or downplaying your value. Celebrate your successes rather than fixate on your failures.
- Fake it till you make it – Speak highly of yourself and your accomplishments even when you don’t feel confident about them. Take up the opportunity even if you feel unqualified. Change your character and allow your confidence to build up.
Remember, everyone has imposter moments and overcoming imposter syndrome doesn’t happen instantly but over time. Do you have other coping strategies? Please share with us in the comments. If you would like to learn more about Imposter syndrome, there are plenty of resources to help.