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imposter syndrome

TSA #007 What I've Learned from Impostor Syndrome

Oct 15, 2022

My experience with Imposter Syndrome and what I've learned from it.

 

"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”

 

Well, I had a seat at the table.

In my mind, I knew I had the competence and the skills to sit at this table but somehow my achievements were not enough. I couldn’t feel grounded in the fact that my hard work had paid off. Every time I would enter the room I would feel like an outsider, an imposter

 

What am I doing here? Am I qualified to be here? Can I speak up? Should I speak up? 

 

I would simply remain silent just to avoid being judged or mansplained. No matter what I had achieved, I couldn’t feel satisfied or confident enough about it. Instead, I thought - everyone will think that I’m a fraud.  

In an effort to overcome my own impostor syndrome, and to better support my clients, I attempted to break down the evidence as to why I - along with 70% of the population (note: mainly women) - would feel like a fraud and how to cope with it. 

 

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few years:

 

You’re More Talented Than You Think

 

You may feel the need to know every piece of information before you start a project and constantly look for new certifications to improve your skills. 

You won’t apply for a job if you don’t meet all the criteria in the posting, and you might be hesitant  speak up in a meeting at work because you’re afraid of looking stupid if you don’t already know the answer.

Ultimately, impostor syndrome can apply to anyone who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes. 

It tends to impact high-achievers because they set extremely high expectations for themselves, and even if they meet 99% of their goals, they’re going to feel like failures. Any small mistake will make them question their own competence.

Following this logic, they conclude that they’re fraudulent and it’s only a matter of time until they’re exposed. It’s an unconscious refusal to assign credit appropriately and own it.

A mental rearrangement of the facts. 

As you pile up more wins and accomplishments, look at your achievements for what they really are: high performance. Yep!

So, if you’re questioning your own legitimacy, take a piece of paper and write down all your personal and career accomplishments and ask yourself this:

 

“If a stranger shared these accomplishments with me, would I think that they are all a stroke of luck and therefore a fraud?”

 

Probably not. The same applies to you. You’re more talented than you think.

 

 

The Things You Don’t Know? They Probably Don’t Either

 

I’ve had a successful career for 10 years and been an entrepreneur for 4 years now, and I’m still learning new methodologies, skills and technology,  every single day.

The amount of knowledge available to us is unlimited and growing. What’s true today may completely evolve 6 months from now. We can’t know it all and it’s impossible to keep up with all the new trends.

And, that’s ok.

Regardless of who you admire, they are likely very smart, successful and know a lot about their industry & business. But they don’t know everything.

I’ve discovered many times that when I sit down with well-respected leaders for the first time, we’re in the same boat. We’re trying to solve similar challenges, figure out complex problems, and we end up sharing failures and lessons learned.

So stop worrying about what you do and don’t know, stop believing that you should know it all and that others know it all. 

That’s it.

Instead, start thinking about how you actually approach not knowing something. Nurture your curiosity, diligence, and your ability to figure things out. 

Those are the things that will allow you to grow.

 

Feeling Unsure Shouldn’t Make You an Imposter 

 

Although feelings of uncertainty are an expected and normal part of professional life, individuals who experience them are deemed to suffer from imposter syndrome. Even if we demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, the daily battles with expectations and assumptions formed by our society push us down.  

Many of us across the world are implicitly, if not explicitly, told we don’t conform to societal expectations. Given that context, the feelings of marginalization or disillusionment become consistent with our experiences.  

Come back to the question I posed at the beginning:

 

"If a stranger shared these accomplishments with me, would the logical conclusion be that they are all a stroke of luck and therefore a fraud?”

 

Take the time to review your accomplishments and celebrate how far you have come.

Look back. Be good to yourself. Smile when you see the upward trajectory of your career. Make this a quarterly or bi-annual commitment to yourself.

You’ll begin to see that you are truly worthy of praise and that you’re the real deal.

 

 

The Snowball Effect With A Little Bit Of Help

 

Finally, I think I now have my impostor syndrome under control. I believe in myself, and when I look back on my accomplishments, I feel really satisfied. I know the effort and energy I put into what I do has resulted in great wins.

However, the major shift happened when my mentor reminded me: “Stop that nonsense. You’re a leader.”

Mentorship is very important. If you don’t get one, hire a coach but don’t stay alone. 

Here is what I realized that made everything shift for me. 

I was waiting or maybe expecting external validation to help confirm  that I had a voice and it was my power to use it.

By doing so, I was giving away my power… to people I barely knew (how crazy is that?!)

The interesting thing about impostor syndrome is that when you finally beat it (or control it), you’re able to view your own career through more of an external lens.

You start to develop self-awareness. You gain confidence. You stop seeking validation from others.

You begin to truly believe that you’re meant to succeed as long as you continue to work the way you always have. 

Those beliefs and that confidence snowball together create a mindset shift, an unstoppable force that helps you achieve things you never thought were possible.

 

I’m not going to embellish it, impostor syndrome will always be there. Under the surface. Ready to strike. And I hope this post gives you the push you need to handle it.

 

See you next week again.

With your success in mind…Darine 

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