FIVE WAYS TO DEAL WITH ‘IMPOSTER SYN­DROME’

JESS STU­ART OF­FERS A FIVE STEP PLAN FOR CONQUERING IMPOSTER SYN­DROME AND UN­LOCK­ING YOUR TRUE PO­TEN­TIAL.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS - AF­TER 15 YEARS IN SE­NIOR HR PO­SI­TIONS JESS STU­ART DE­CIDED TO FOL­LOW HER PAS­SIONS. JESS HAS WRIT­TEN TWO PER­SONAL DEVEL­OP­MENT BOOKS AND IS A CER­TI­FIED COACH. HAV­ING LIVED, WORKED AND VOL­UN­TEERED IN MANY COUN­TRIES WITH IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL PEO­PLE, SHE DRAWS HER LIF

Jess Stu­art of­fers a five step plan for conquering imposter syn­drome and un­lock­ing your true po­ten­tial.

I mposter syn­drome is some­thing I’ve suf­fered from most of my life – and I thought I was the only one! Af­ter 15 years work­ing in HR with lead­ers in per­sonal devel­op­ment and then run­ning my own coach­ing busi­ness, it tran­spires that many oth­ers feel ex­actly the same.

I spent most of my ca­reer doubt­ing my abil­i­ties, and get­ting pro­mo­tions didn’t seem to help. I felt like an imposter who’d be found out one day. The re­al­ity was I was good at my job and even big­ger jobs as the pro­mo­tions came – but each new job would raise the same fear: I’m not sure I can do this.

It’s called imposter syn­drome, and it’s more com­mon than we think. Ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal of Be­havioural Science 70 per­cent of women suf­fer from it and many men too.

Imposter syn­drome is a con­cept de­scrib­ing high-achiev­ing in­di­vid­u­als who are marked by an in­abil­ity to in­ter­nalise their ac­com­plish­ments and a per­sis­tent fear of be­ing ex­posed as a “fraud.”

Suf­fer­ers have a ten­dency to at­tribute their suc­cess to ex­ter­nal fac­tors – such as luck, or the work of the team. It takes courage to take on chal­lenges and pur­sue goals that leave you open to the risk of fail­ure, fall­ing short, and be­ing “found out”.

So what can we do about it?

1 OWN YOUR SUC­CESSES

We tend to be mod­est when it comes to our achieve­ments; we’ve been brought up not to boast about our strengths. We can feel un­com­fort­able ac­cept­ing praise.

I’ve found that keep­ing an achieve­ment jour­nal helps. I also have a folder on my com­puter where I file mes­sages of praise and feed­back to re­flect on when I’m hav­ing mo­ments of doubt. The most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is that if we’re get­ting praise or pos­i­tive feed­back, it’s be­cause we’ve earned it and de­serve it!

2 DON’T LET YOUR DOUBT AND FEAR STOP YOU

We need to con­tinue to take risks and chal­lenges even though we might not think we’re ready – es­pe­cially women. Too of­ten, we stand back and let op­por­tu­ni­ties pass us by be­cause we doubt our ca­pa­bil­i­ties or don’t feel ready yet. The best way to see if you’re ready is to dive in and take on the chal­lenge!

3 LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM

Over­com­ing imposter syn­drome re­quires self-ac­cep­tance: you don’t have to at­tain per­fec­tion to be wor­thy of the suc­cess you’ve achieved. It’s not about low­er­ing the bar, it’s about re­set­ting it to a re­al­is­tic level. Just be­cause we’re ca­pa­ble of bril­liance doesn’t mean we’ll de­liver bril­liance 100 per­cent of the time and you don’t have to be Ein­stein to be a valu­able as­set.

4 NO-ONE CAN SEE YOUR THOUGHTS BUT THEY MAY SHARE THEM!

I know how it feels to be gripped by imposter syn­drome – we spend all our en­ergy try­ing to prove our worth to ev­ery­one else to make it go away. The funny thing is, only we be­lieve that we’re not ca­pa­ble – it’s of­ten our in­ter­nal self-doubt not an ex­ter­nal re­al­ity. The only per­son we need to prove any­thing to is our­selves.

Know that it’s not some­thing we ex­pe­ri­ence alone. Some of the most suc­cess­ful peo­ple I know who seem to have mas­tered life ad­mit that, un­der­neath, they feel the op­po­site some days. Even fa­mous peo­ple earn­ing mil­lions and ex­celling at what they do ad­mit to hav­ing self-doubt.

5 STOP COM­PAR­ING YOUR­SELF TO OTH­ERS

It’s the fastest way to feel in­fe­rior and feed our self-doubt. Un­for­tu­nately there will al­ways be some­one more clever, tal­ented, beau­ti­ful or stronger than you. But the re­verse is also true. So in­stead of com­par­ing your­self to oth­ers, see if you’re ful­fill­ing your own po­ten­tial and cel­e­brate the things you have.

What mat­ters most is not whether we fear fail­ing, look­ing fool­ish, or not be­ing good enough; it’s whether we give those fears the power to keep us from tak­ing the ac­tions needed to achieve our goals.

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