The third in our series of July blogs live from New York takes a deep dive into the work we’re doing here with our clients. Here we look at impostor syndrome.
Are you experiencing impostor syndrome?
Experienced by high achieving individuals, impostor syndrome hits you with the belief that you don’t deserve your success. Everything that you’ve achieved is attributed to luck. If you’ve ever felt like a fraud and feared that you and your success are at risk of being exposed, then you’ve experienced impostor syndrome. Discover proven ten hacks to help you overcome impostor syndrome.
How common is impostor syndrome?
A successful writer for decades, Maya Angelou has published many books but alongside her many achievements, she’s also well known for expressing the thought that her next book will always be the one to reveal her as an impostor, someone who doesn’t deserve her success. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, has shared similar ‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’ Impostor syndrome can strike anyone. Don Cheadle, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Watson have all spoken about their experiences of impostor syndrome.
How does impostor syndrome influence motivation, confidence & behaviour?
Along with the hallmark anxiety that accompanies feelings of fraud when impostor syndrome is present, there are other powerful effects on behaviour and motivation, including a reluctance to rise to new challenges within an organisation because a person feels exhausted by trying to achieve perfection within their normal role.
In their research, Clances & Imes typically found four factors at play for those with impostor syndrome:
- A NEW OPPORTUNITY OR CHALLENGE
- THE INDIVIDUAL THEN EITHER ENGAGES IN OVER PREPARATION OR A LAST MINUTE FRENZY OF ANXIOUS ACTIVITY
- WHEN SUCCESS IS ACHIEVED THE EXPLANATION IS EITHER 1. ‘MY LAST MINUTE FRENZY FOOLED EVERYONE BUT I’LL BE DISCOVERED AS A FRAUD NEXT TIME’ OR ‘MY OVER-PREPARATION MEANS I HAVE TO WORK TWICES AS HARD AS OTHERS TO ACHIEVE RESULTS I’M SUCH AN IMPOSTOR’ & A SUPERSTITIOUS REPEAT OF THE SAME BEHAVIOUR BEGINS TO OCCUR.
- THERE MIGHT BE A SHORT LIVED SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT BUT THEN THE WHOLE CYCLE OF SELF DOUBT, ANXIETY AND FEAR STARTS AGAIN.
TEN HACKS TO OVERCOME IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
- LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM. Perfection can hold you back and prevent you from trying new things or developing existing skills all because of the fear that the results won’t be perfect the first time we attempt something different. Practice pushing aside perfectionism in favour of developing your skills and abilities.
- LEARN TO RECOGNISE IMPOSTOR SYNDROME FOR WHAT IT IS – SELF DOUBT & SOMETHING WE ALL HAVE. When you understand that self doubt and a lack of confidence is something that most people have experienced at some time, it becomes easier to push through these feelings and believe that if other people have overcome impostor syndrome it’s possible for you too.
- ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR STRENGTHS. When you find yourself doubting your right to your success, it can help to focus on your strengths. Ground your thoughts in facts and take stock of how your have strengths contributed to your achievements.
- REMIND YOURSELF OF TIMES WHEN YOU PERSEVERED THROUGH OTHER CHALLENGES & HAD SUCH FEELINGS YET SUCCEEDED. When you’re in the grip of self doubt and fear of exposure, recall past challenges and focus on how you used your strengths and abilities to overcome obstacles and develop new skills.
- LEARN TO EMBRACE FAILURE. Remind yourself that when you don’t know something it’s not a failure, it’s a learning opportunity that can lead to mastery.
- CELEBRATE SUCCEESS. A common theme for those who experience impostor syndrome is the habit of not taking time to acknowledge and savour success. Celebrate and take credit for your successes rather than attributing them to luck or perfectionism.
- DON’T DISCOUNT THE POSITIVES. Keep a journal of successes and positive comments from others, refer to it when you begin to doubt yourself.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHARE YOUR DOUBTS. Offload to people you trust when you’re in the grip. You might be surprised to hear how many other people have experienced impostor syndrome.
- MONITOR & ADJUST YOUR INNER DIALOGUE. Catch and correct negative language you use to describe yourself that reinforces the mindset of impostor syndrome.
- REMEMBER THAT NOBODY IS BORN AN EXPERT. We don’t all start with the same level of ability or talent but to progress our knowledge and skills we need to undertake a process of learning and development. People who reach the level of mastery understand that experiencing and analysing failures and errors along the way are an essential part of improving performance.
Positive Change Guru are international experts in their field. Members of the Association of Business Psychology, British Neuroscience Association, Masters in Applied Positive Psychology, UK Mindfulness Teachers listed, CPD and CIPD Qualified we invest in our own development so that you can get the best out of yours.
To find out more about imposter syndrome or all things resilience and positive psychology related contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org We offer consultancy, training, conference key note, bespoke in house courses, espresso bitesize sessions or 8 week programmes. We’d love to hear from you!