If you feel like you are under-qualified for the position you hold in any kind of business arrangement, know that you are not alone. Studies have shown that nearly 70% of the U.S. population experiences the feeling of being an “imposter” in a professional setting, whether you are an employee, manager, business owner, entrepreneur, or executive.
Of course, none of us ever admit this feeling out loud, for fear that we will be “outed” for holding a position we are simply not qualified to hold. That’s what gives this kind of feeling so much power; it’s taboo.
So, if you are suffering from the imposter syndrome and are looking for ways to overcome this psychological setback, check out the followings 7 ways to conquer this fear:
Step 1: Acknowledge the Fear
As the American Psychological Association likes to define it, False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR) is something that we experience when we are given a job, role, or title that we don’t feel like we’re ready for quite yet. After we assume this new role, we compare ourselves to others in a similar situation, perhaps with decades more experience. From these comparisons, we come to a conclusion that we are not qualified to hold the same position as them, doubting our abilities along the way.
The truth of the matter is: you’ve been promoted for a reason. Or, you’ve expanded your business for a reason. You ARE qualified. First things first, acknowledge this fear out in the open. One you do that, you will realize how irrational it seems. Keeping it locked up and hidden gives it a power that can rule over your life.
Step 2: Remember the Positive Feedback
It’s common for humans to toss off compliments that are received for work, instead focusing on the one or two people that spread criticism around the office throughout the year. Restructure your mindset and look beyond the criticism. When someone starts singing your praises, keep a journal at work and write down what they said about you. Or, if your business received a positive testimonial, write it down on a sticky note and read it over every morning.
Essentially, you can combat your own imposter syndrome by collecting and revisiting positive feedback. With this positive journal, you can open it and look through your praises when you are feeling down about your situation. In the mean-time, throw the negative thoughts out the window!
Step 3: Talk to Someone About It
You don’t have to weather the imposter syndrome alone! As the stat above articulates, close to three-fourths of the population knows what this is, and what is feels like. That’s why it’s important to seek out a coach, mentor, or fan with whom you can discuss these feelings. When you are willing to be vulnerable and speak about these feelings, you will realize that you are not alone. Sometimes, it’s the simple feeling of thinking we’re isolated or cut-off from others that can make the imposter syndrome that much more impactful.
Fans will reinforce why they love you; mentors will tell you what to do next to keep being successful; and a coach will work with you, hands-on, to help you conquer these fears.
Step 4: Use the Imposter Syndrome to Your Advantage
Let’s say you work at an accounting firm and you’ve just been promoted to Partner over a slew of your colleagues. You feel guilty about this success because you’re not sure if you were the best selection. Your colleagues are qualified and hard-working, too! Why you?
Look around at your fellow Partners. What are they doing well? Use this feeling of “I’m not qualified enough” to start a fire in your soul to seek our more training, education, and hands-on experience. Sign up for workshops, go to conferences, and read books. Use this feeling in a humble way to do everything you can possibly do to be overqualified for your new position. Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to be totally defeating.
Step 5: Don’t Forget About Goal-Setting
There are tons of studies that emphasize the value of goal-setting, which is why you can incorporate that kind of mental exercise here. Even after facing your imposter syndrome fears, you can still feel underqualified. Set up short and long-term goals for yourself that help you stay on track. In a one-year period, if you want to be more qualified at your job, breakdown that definition to yourself. Reach towards goals that will make you overqualified in no-time.
Step 6: Open Yourself Up
When you expose yourself for everything that you are and believe, you will realize no one can hold it against you. If you are in charge of hosting meetings, be honest with your employees. Tell them about your good and bad days. Make yourself approachable and human. Once you open yourself up in this manner, people won’t feel the need to whisper about you and your arrogance behind your back.
As stated above: once we speak life into the imposter syndrome, it no longer carries any weight or meaning. You can even host workshops on this feeling specifically for your employees, letting them know that it affects you, too.
Step 7: Realize You ARE Qualified
We live in a harsh world today. Nothing is free and luck doesn’t make you rich. You and your hard work is what got you to where you are. No one handed it to you. You deserve every minute you are now spending in a new leadership role. Give yourself a pat on the back and just accept it. Someone is confident in your abilities; so go out there, and prove them right.
You Are Not Alone
If you think you’re the only person in the professional world that feels like some kind of con artist, think again. You are not alone, which means talking to people about this feeling, setting goals, collecting positive criticism, acknowledging the irrational fear, and patting yourself on the back is what you need to do to stop the imposter syndrome right in its tracks.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my take on overcoming the imposter syndrome. Stick around for future blog releases.
If you are looking to learn more about Impostor Syndrome, Michelle Gomez wrote a fantastic book on the subject.
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