FIVE WAYS TO DEAL WITH ‘IMPOSTER SYNDROME’
JESS STUART OFFERS A FIVE STEP PLAN FOR CONQUERING IMPOSTER SYNDROME AND UNLOCKING YOUR TRUE POTENTIAL.
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.