Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - CAREER -

Let’s take a quick look at Emma Wat­son, shall we? It’s fair to say she’s killed it at ev­ery­thing – you know, be­tween grad­u­at­ing from the pres­ti­gious Brown Univer­sity, slay­ing in the re­make of Beauty And The Beast and her work with the UN that in­cludes that game-chang­ing speech on gen­der equal­ity. So why, then, in a re­cent in­ter­view, did she say she feels like ‘an im­pos­tor’, un­der­serv­ing of her suc­cess?

Im­pos­tor syn­drome is the con­fi­dence-zap­ping phe­nom­e­non that causes suc­cess­ful, com­pe­tent women to doubt their abil­i­ties and feel like frauds in the work­place. The term was fi rst coined in the ’70s, and re­cent re­search from Ghent Univer­sity shows women are fly­ing un­der the radar at work for fear of be­ing ‘ex­posed’.

A cry­ing shame, no? ‘Ev­ery­one loses when bright peo­ple play small,’ in­sists im­pos­tor syn­drome speaker and ex­pert Va­lerie Young. It’s time we bid farewell to self-doubt and be­came our own damn cheer­lead­ers at work. Here are Young’s top tips for self- con­fi­dence.

Nor­malise your feel­ings

‘ This may sound harsh but the very fi rst thing you need to re­alise is you’re not that spe­cial,’ she says. ‘The next time you have an im­pos­tor feel­ing, re­mind your­self that al­most ev­ery­one has ex­pe­ri­enced feel­ings of fraud­u­lence – many of them award-win­ning ac­tors and au­thors, CEOs and PhDs. It is com­pletely com­mon for com­pe­tent peo­ple to suf­fer self-doubt, so talk about it and make it the norm.’

Re­frame your think­ing

‘ Say you’ve just landed the job of your dreams,’ says Young. ‘An im­pos­tor would walk into the of­fice on her fi rst day and think, “Ev­ery­one is so amaz­ing, I’ll never be able to match up.” A non-im­pos­tor would think, “Ev­ery­one is so amaz­ing. I’m so lucky to work with them – I’m go­ing to learn so much.” Think like a non-im­pos­tor and, in time, you’ll start to feel like one.’

Fo­cus on your pos­i­tives

‘ The day be­fore you have a big pre­sen­ta­tion, you might be wor­ry­ing that you’re not very ar­tic­u­late. The thing is, maybe you’re not – but you might be a great leader or fan­tas­tic at motivating peo­ple. No-one is per­fect – so for­get your fail­ings and fo­cus on the things you’re good at.’

Keep go­ing re­gard­less

‘If you sit around wait­ing for the day you feel 100% con­fi­dent to ask for that in­crease or go for that pro­mo­tion, you’re go­ing to be wait­ing a long time,’ says Young. ‘You need to change your think­ing (and also your be­hav­iour) now – your feel­ings will slowly catch up to this new non-im­pos­tor way of be­ing un­til it’s nor­mal.’ When in doubt, just re­mem­ber that you’ve earned ev­ery bit of your suc­cess. Own it.

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