So, you think you have imposter syndrome?

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Do you:

· Fear you can’t accomplish what others expect?

· Have a hard time acknowledging recognition for your achievements?

· Experience a cycle of self doubt and self sabotage?

You may feel some relief to know that you’re not the only one. I feel like this too, in fact I’ve been suffering a lot from ‘imposter syndrome’ lately.

I sometimes feel that I’m not quite good enough, worthy enough or interesting enough to be standing up in front of audiences sharing my experience and insights on change, and the strategies needed to embrace it.

But, I challenge you to find me someone who is authentic and genuine who doesn’t feel this way, however successful they are. Ask yourself do you really want to work with someone who is so confident in their abilities they don’t feel like they’ve got anything left to learn?

What is imposter syndrome?

‘the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills.’

Imposter syndrome as a negative

There is a lot of content out there stating that imposter syndrome is a bad thing, and with over 70% of adults suffering with this crisis in confidence (reports say even higher in women) it’s surely something we need to address.

The fear of backlash and being ‘found out to be an imposter’ can prevent people sharing their ideas. I’ve certainly found myself not contributing to discussions as proactively as I would when my confidence is high. It can also prevent us applying for that job we would excel in, or not starting that business for fear of it not being a success. This fear can, without a doubt, hold us back from fulling our potential and living out our dreams.

Imagine if imposter syndrome could be a sign of success.

Imposter syndrome as a sign of success

After spending three years in Montreal establishing the city’s first entrepreneurial hub, I’ve returned to the UK and altered my business offering. I have pivoted my business away from supporting people who are having to adapt to living and working in or with a different culture, to supporting entrepreneurs to start and grow a business.

The way I work remains the same. I still use my expertise in training and coaching to prepare people emotionally to cope with the challenges of change, but I’ve adapted the content and the sector is new. I’m using my existing strengths and applying them to a new task to take myself out of my comfort zone (sometimes even into my terror zone). I’m having to fake it until I make it – and that brings with it moments of self doubt and feelings that I don’t have a right to play in that space.

If you are ambitious, talented and have an interest in personal growth, you will be constantly pushing yourself into new areas. When things are new, it’s human nature not to feel completely at ease or like we don’t belong. If we’re not an imposter could it be that we are too firmly in our comfort zone and it might be time to move on? But how can we embrace our imposter and rise to the challenge?

Ways to embrace your imposter and empower yourself to rise to the challenge

1. Talk about it

Everyone is susceptible to pluralistic ignorance. This is where we doubt ourselves privately, believing we’re alone in thinking that way because no one else voices their doubts. By talking about our doubts we raise awareness of how common it is and become more at ease to share these feelings.

2. Get feedback

Ask others what they see you are good at. When i set up my business for the second time around I contacts family, friends, and even clients to ask them for three words they thought described me best,. That feedback was invaluable for moving forward.

3. Start now, perfect later

Perfectionism can provide a healthy drive to success, but if you strive for 100% perfect, 100% of the time you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Don’t obsess over everything. Give your best to things that really matter - don’t sweat the small stuff. And when mistakes do happen, forgive yourself and see failure as an opportunity to learn.

4. Change your mindset

Consider what you are most motivated by and go after that, not what you see others doing, or what others expect you to do. Meredith Peebles in her TED talk challenges us to own what we look like, what we do and what we want as a way to overcome imposter syndrome.

5. Ask for help

If you find yourself saying “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m rubbish/stupid etc.”, STOP! Reframe it and say instead “I don’t know all the answers, but I’m clever enough to know what questions to ask.” Recognise that everyone has to start somewhere and ask for help.

And finally my favourite –

Fake it until you make it

Don’t wait to feel confident before putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Make the change you want first, and then allow your confidence to build. Talent helps, but ultimately what makes us successful is hard work. Practise really does make perfect!

Thoughts by Kathryn, Up+thrive Words by Amanda, Redwood Copy

If you’ve any thoughts on Imposter Syndrome and how you have overcome it, or used it to your advantage, let me know in the comments below

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If you or your organisation is looking for support we’d love to hear from you. Contact Kathryn to discuss your facilitation/coaching needs, and Amanda to tell the world about it.