Imposter Syndrome Overcoming
Have you ever felt like a fraud and you feel it plays out in different situations? Well, you’ve been hit by Imposter Syndrome! Here’s the good news though! Even the most successful, powerful and accomplished women (and men, too) have been unsure of themselves at one point or another. Einstein once said that he thought his research got way more attention than he thought it deserved. Even though feelings of self-doubt can stir up a lot of fear, anxiety and stress with Imposter Syndrome, here’s more good news, you can stop thinking like this and CHANGE! Addressing the Imposter Syndrome shadow will lead to greater leadership success for you.
NEVER GOOD ENOUGH?
In a Health publication, a psychologist explains “How to deal with Imposter Syndrome.” Imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon isn’t a diagnosis or a medical problem but rather a pattern of thinking that can lead to self-doubt, negative self-talk and missed opportunities. It’s the feeling that everyone else knows exactly what they’re doing, but you feel lost,” explains psychologist Susan Albers PsyD. “You have this fear that the people around you are going to figure out that you don’t know what you’re talking about and expose you as a fraud.”
The worst part about imposter syndrome? It can easily turn into a cycle with seriously negative consequences. But recognizing it and having the tools to get past it can stop you from getting in your own way. One study estimated that 7 in 10 adults experience it at some point or another and the original imposter syndrome study in the 1970s revolved around high-achieving women who had trouble attributing their own success to themselves. “But when you fast forward to today, men, women and everybody experiences this phenomenon,” Dr. Albers says.
Interestingly, it’s often people who are hard workers, high achievers and perfectionists who are most likely to feel like frauds – including many doctors, lawyers, academics and celebrities. In relationships, some people feel unworthy of the affection they get from a significant other and fear that their partner will discover they’re not actually that great. “Sometimes people self-sabotage that relationship and end it before the other person can,” Dr. Albers says.
Studies have suggested that imposter syndrome can lead to a drop in job performance while increasing burnout. It’s also been linked to anxiety and depression. Overcoming imposter syndrome starts with recognizing your own potential and taking ownership of your achievement. Dr. Albers offers these suggestion:
- Separate feelings from facts
- Take note of your accomplishments
- Stop comparing
- Turn imposter syndrome on its head
- Talk to others
- Talk to a therapist
Self-doubt can be paralysing. But now that you know how to recognize and deal with these feelings, you can make efforts to move forward instead of getting stuck in the imposter cycle.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Jessica Bennet indicates in the New York Times that the Imposter Syndrome affects women and minority groups disproportionately. My impostor syndrome has played out during public speeches, job negotiations and when I received my first book deal — prompting me to ask, “But why would anyone pay money to read what I have to say?” My editor, a woman, didn’t miss a beat: “I often wonder the same about my editing!” she said.
When suffering from self-doubt, it’s easy to think that you’re the only one who’s ever felt that way — but it’s not true. Even the most successful, powerful and accomplished women (and men, too) have been unsure of themselves at one point or another. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few former impostors in their own words:
- Tina Fey: “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re onto me! I’m a fraud!’”
- Maya Angelou: The prizewinning author once said, after publishing her 11th book that every time she wrote another one she’d think to herself: “Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody.”
- Michelle Obama: The former first lady has spoken and written about how, as a young woman, she used to lie awake at night asking herself: Am I too loud? Too much? Dreaming too big? “Eventually, I just got tired of always worrying what everyone else thought of me,” she said. “So I decided not to listen.”
STOP thinking like an IMPOSTER
Valerie Young is an internationally-recognized expert on impostor syndrome and has had more than three decades of speaking to an estimated 500,000 people and leading workshops on Impostor Syndrome. Up until just a few years ago, I always ended my talks by giving audiences a list of ten ways to combat impostor syndrome. Audience evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. The one criticism? “I wish she’d given us more solutions.” Or during the Q&A someone would come up to the mic and say, “This was great… but do you have any other solutions?” My response was always, “Of the 10 things I just gave you, what have you tried so far?” To which they’d invariably reply, “Well, nothing – I just wondered if there’s anything else we can do?” I spent years thinking, “I just gave them TEN things to do! Is it them? Is it me? What am I missing?”
Then one day it hit me.
What people want is to walk into the room feeling like an impostor and to walk out of the room not feeling like an impostor. That’s not how it works. In fact, feelings are the last to change. So now, before I even get to the solutions, I make sure my audience understands that people who don’t feel like impostors are no more intelligent or capable than the rest of us. The only difference between them and us is that during that same situation that triggers an impostor feeling in us, they think different thoughts. That’s it, folks. Which is really good news — because it means all we have to do is learn to think like a non-impostor.
And because impostor feelings are indeed the last to change, today I make sure everyone understands that…”The only way to stop feeling like an impostor is to stop thinking like an impostor.”
NEVER stop LEARNING
In my blog about leadership learning, I referred to a Jack Nicholson Once quote, where he said “When You Stop Learning, I Believe You Are Dead!” One of The Things That Helps Me To Conquer The Imposter Syndrome Is My Ability To Keep It Real And Tell People That I Am A Semi-Expert. Having An Unquenchable Thirst For Knowledge Makes It Possible To Learn New Things, Grow As A Person, And Create Opportunities For Myself And Others.
It makes me cringe when people say I am an expert. Even if I had a Ph.D. in leadership books, I would not be an expert. I feel that if I say I am an expert, then my brain will switch off and say, “That’s it; you don’t need to learn anymore.” Argh! Hence the semi-expert tag. I am always learning, every single day, I never want to stop. I love to learn. That is why I write, speak and read about leadership books all the time. I suppose when you are truly passionate about something, you love to learn about it.
Many times I’ve had people ask me, “In addition to coaching and training, what else can I do to learn more about how to improve myself? How can I learn to be a great leader that propels myself and others towards greater growth and greater opportunities?” My answer is simple, read. Read everything you can about successful leaders and the steps that they have taken to achieve peak performance for themselves and their organizations. The following is a list, and brief overview, of some of the best books that I have read about leadership books:
- Good To Great By Jim Collins
- Man’s Search For Meaning By Viktor Frankel
- The Truth About Leadership By James M. Kouzes And Barry Z. Posner
- The Extraordinary Leader By John Zenger And Joseph Folkman
- Drive By Daniel Pink
- Start With The Why By Simon Sinek
- True North By Bill George And Peter Sims
- Tribes By Seth Godin
- Daring Greatly By Brene Brown
- The War Of Art By Steven Pressfield
- Primal Leadership By Daniel Goleman
- Strengths Based Leadership By Tom Rath And Barry Conchie
- Team Of Rivals By Doris Kearns Goodwin
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There By Marshall Goldsmith
- First Comes Courage By Sonia McDonald
YOU CAN BE THE FACE OF LEADERSHIP
Join us in 2021!
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Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.