When I quit my corporate job with a vague notion of starting a business, I felt a huge blow in my self-confidence, esteem and self-worth because I over identified with my career achievements.
Saying goodbye to that corporate identity left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
Afterall who was I without my corporate career proving to others who I was?
In our society there’s a huge pressure to achieve.
From a young age we’re told to get the grades and get into a good school. As we move into adulthood we’re told to get a good job, get the promotions, get the 6 figure pay-cheque.
There’s an emphasis of “getting” and “doing” with rewards given based on our accomplishments. Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t take into consideration the process of how we’re showing up as we’re going about our “getting” and “doing.”
Things like kindness, time for our loved ones, enjoying the little things, taking time off, being present, healthy and relaxed.
When we’re busy going after our goals it’s easy to fall into the trap of equating our self-worth and ability to be loved based on our achievements.
Even when I was working in my corporate job I was constantly over-working and people pleasing because I didn’t want to be found out. I felt I had to work so much harder than everyone because I wasn’t good enough to be there.
Turns out there’s a phrase for this and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.
According to dictionary.com, Imposter Syndrome is defined as:
“That feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success.”
Dr. Pauline Clance says that:
“People with Imposter Syndrome tend to feel like a fraud and experience intense feelings of unworthiness…Individuals with Imposter Syndrome tend to suffer from a very specific self esteem issue: The belief that they are unworthy of success”
Turns out 70% of women are affected by Imposter Syndrome. So if you’re feeling this way you’re not alone.
Kate Winslett says “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off on a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this, I’m a fraud”
Tina Fey says “The beauty of imposter syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of “I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud” So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.”
Dr. Chan, Chief of the World HEalth Organisation says “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”
Sheryl Sandberg says “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud”
If you ever feel the same way just know that you’re not alone.
In fact some articles even suggest that true imposters don’t suffer imposter syndrome. So relax!
The first step is to know that you’re in good company.
Although imposter syndrome can have seemingly positive benefits like driving people to work harder, it can also lead to burnout so make sure you watch out for it.
Instead of feeling like you can’t change the way you’re wired. Here are 3 steps to overcoming imposter syndrome
#1: Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic
Take an objective look at what you’re trying to achieve in your life and career. Are you going after an idea of perfection that’s not realistic or even possible?
Honour what’s going on in your life and where you are in your life journey. You don’t have to go all in ALL the time. Perhaps this is a season in your life where you are choosing to focus on your health, being pregnant, having a young family, doing things just for you?
You are more than just your career so make sure your priortising the right things in life.
#2: Be OK with being wrong
You don’t have to be right all the time. Experts and gurus get it wrong.
The best traders lose money on trades.
The best sales people lose out on winning accounts.
Presidents make wrong decisions.
Being wrong and losing are part of the process. Failure is part of the journey and shows that you’re putting yourself out there and doing the work. Accept that it’s part of the process.
As I shared last week, it’s important to embrace times of struggle as part of your journey to career success.
#3: Keep a swipe file of everything you’ve done well
Our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative instead of the positive. It’s time to change that!
Every time someone writes to you and says something positive, keep it in a folder. You can even add notes on the positive things you’ve done, feedback you’ve received or ways you’ve made people feel. Keep a collection from your colleagues, employees, boss, clients etc.
Whenever you feel like a fraud or an imposter, you can go back to that folder and remind yourself that you are a beautiful human being (and damn good at your job too!)
We all face times when we feel like we’re a fraud or an imposter.
Instead of believing that you’re a fraud be proactive and try one of the 3 steps to overcome it so that you can quickly move through it and go on and get on with life.
You’re enough just the way you are. Without having to achieve and “do” all the time.
I’d love to hear from you and know: what step are you going to implement to kick imposter syndrome to the curb?
Share in the comments below.