Have you ever questioned your competency or skills in a situation or role? Impostor Syndrome is defined as “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". While most people that experience this professionally do not to such a great extreme, it is common especially in women. Some of it could stem from the social pressures of trying to downplay your successes or not to self-promote that becomes so inherent that you start doubting your accomplishments and attributing them to external factors. Many men seem to display these characteristics too from time to time.
I have experienced impostor syndrome several times in my career. Every time I land that next great career opportunity, I victimize myself! The fear of failure or a new challenge, the fear of venturing into the unknown and overextending your skills, the fear of being discovered for what you don’t know. It can be intimidating or overwhelming and for some paralyzing, where it may limit them from taking on new ventures. Fortunately for me, being a risk-taker, I thrive in chaos. So, despite the impostor syndrome I have experienced, it has never thwarted my career. It only pushes me to learn and master the new role or niche so I can become a subject matter expert as soon as possible. It drives me to excel.
But if you are one of those that constantly battles this and it is indeed holding you back or sabotaging your career, here are some strategies that can help:
- List your career accomplishments and celebrate them often
- Review the challenges you have overcome in your personal and professional life
- Do not minimize your wins. Next time you feel the urge to say “I was just lucky”, “I just happened to be at the right place”...remind yourself of the effort, strategy and planning that went into that achievement
- Reach out to your professional network and tap into other’s experiences in the area that you feel uncomfortable in
- Build a support network of individuals that uplift your confidence (your personal cheerleading squad) and indulge in activities that boost your confidence
- Be authentic. No one expects you to know it all and it is perfectly fine to say, “I don’t know but I will find out”. People will respect you for your honesty and showing vulnerability is a trait of a confident leader
- Challenge that inner negative voice, channel your positive thoughts and reframe the situation that is causing you anxiety
- Drive yourself to become a subject matter expert in the area
You would not have made it so far, if you were an impostor, so get over it!