Many people share a dirty little secret at work or with their business: deep down, they feel inadequate, are filled with self-doubt, and have difficulty accepting their own accomplishments.
This psychological phenomenon, known as Imposter Syndrome, can hinder all kinds of ambitions from contributing to meetings, giving a presentation, taking on a new job or asking for help, fearing they will be ‘found out’ despite being qualified or having the right experience.
Although it is common amongst high achieving women, it can also affect men. The good news is that it is totally NORMAL with an estimated 70% of people experiencing these feelings at some point in their lives.
But what causes Imposter Syndrome? Some believe it’s down to personality type, while others think that family background and childhood influences can play a big factor, for example, if you felt your grades at school were never high enough for your parents or if your siblings outshone you in certain areas of your life.
There are five main characteristics of an ‘imposter’ which you may spot in yourself or others:
The perfectionist: experiences high levels of anxiety, self-doubt and worry, especially when they set themselves goals that they are unable to achieve. A perfectionist will focus on areas where they could have done better rather than celebrate their achievements.
The Workaholic: Since people who experience this phenomenon are convinced they aren’t as good as others, they often push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up.
The expert: will not feel satisfied when finishing a task until they feel that they know everything about the subject. The time spent searching for information can make it hard to complete tasks and projects.
Natural geniuses: master many new skills quickly and easily, and they may feel ashamed and weak when faced with a goal that is too hard.
The soloist: prefers to work alone, fearing that asking for help will reveal incompetence. The person may turn down help in an attempt to prove their self-worth.
If you suspect you are experiencing ‘impostorism’, here are my top tips to overcome it.
1. Write down all of your achievements and successes you’ve received in both your personal and business life plus any positive feedback you’ve heard. What do people compliment you on? Keep them close to hand and up-to-date so that you can refer to them whenever you feel self-doubt kicking in.
2. When you have thoughts of self-doubt, write them down and challenge them to help you to put them into perspective. Are they actually true?
3. Lower your standards – things don’t always have to be 100% – just do your best.
4. Remember you were given the job or task for a reason – because of your abilities, qualifications or experience – it was not down to luck.
5. Avoid comparing and despairing. There will always be someone more or and less capable than you. Focus on what you are doing and do it well.
6. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake and try not to dwell on it. Everyone make mistakes, we are human.
7. Try not to worry about what people are thinking of you – chances are they’re also dealing with Impostor Syndrome too and worrying about themselves so careful not to mind read.
8. Talk through your feelings with a coach, mentor or someone you trust.
9. Ask for help – it is not a weakness to admit you don’t know how to do something.
10. Learn to accept a compliment, success or achievement – your success is not down to luck or anything else, it’s down to YOU.
If you’d like to overcome Impostor Syndrome, book in a coaching session so we can upgrade your mindset.
I’m also is running a series of coaching workshops starting on Saturday 22 May entitled Unique You Again