Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

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Written By Kevin

The insights I gained over the years help me lead and motivate teams to achieve business and operational goals. Allow me to share my learnings with you.

In this article we will take a look at what is imposter syndrome, what causes it, imposter syndrome symptoms.

We will then take a look at the different types of imposter syndrome classifications, and how you can take action to overcome it.

You can read the article below or watch the video we posted on our YouTube channel.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a term to describe when an individual feels insecure, or feels like they are a fraud for gaining accolades on their accomplishments.

People who experience imposter syndrome believe they are undeserving or inadequate and are usually overwhelmed by self-doubt. They believe that their accomplishments were a result of luck not because their hard work or ability.

Imposter syndrome is extremely common, even among the most talented and successful people. And effects various professionals, from CEOs to recent college grads.

This phenomenon appears more frequently among people who are starting out in a new senior role, so, it’s not surprising that many first-time managers suffer Imposter syndrome, doubting their own leadership capabilities.

Imposter Syndrome Symptoms

While Imposter Syndrome is unwarranted in most cases, it does have a very negative effect on the person suffering from it and his or her ability to take decisions or actions.

But what are the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is mix of an internal feelings that leads one to feel like a fraud.

Having the feeling that it was pure luck, and not talent that got them to this new and improved position in their career.

As a consequence, people suffering from Imposter syndrome feel they are not worthy to be successful and this can lead to anxiousness and depression.

Furthermore, they start doubting their abilities and feel like they do not know enough, which leads to a lack of self confidence at work.

These internal feelings will then lead to manifesting certain external signs which can be evidenced by those around them.

For example, they tend to minimize positive feedback they receive, and are overly sensitive to any small mistakes they make.

They overprepare for any task, which leads to burnout from working too hard.

They might also avoid taking on new tasks or responsibilities altogether, because they’re afraid they will fail.

Imposter Syndrome Test

Imposter syndrome is common in people who have achieved certain positions of power and recognition and feel the pressure to achieve results to justify their new role.

Identifying if you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome will take time, and, more importantly, will require self-reflection.

If you’re feeling you might be suffering from imposter syndrome, you can start by asking yourself these three questions:

1.         Do you fear someone will discover you are a fraud?

2.         Do you feel guilty about your position, salary or accomplishments?

3. Are you always under pressure to over-perform?

If you answered YES to all three questions, then chances are you might be struggling with imposter syndrome.

Don’t panic.

It will help to know that you are definitely not alone.

In fact, research shows that nearly two-thirds of knowledge workers experience imposter syndrome, and people in more senior positions are more likely, than average, to experience it.

Imposter Syndrome Types

Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on the subject, has identified 5 types of imposter syndrome.

Type 1 – The Perfectionist

The perfectionist focuses on “how” something is done, instead of the outcome. So, despite successful outcome of a task, the perfectionist still believes they could have done it better.

Type 2 – The Expert

This type of Imposter syndrome effects those people who feel they should be experts in their field at all times. So, in cases where they have a minor lack of knowledge, this extreme expectation on themselves will make them feel like a failure.    

Type 3 – The Natural Genius

This type of person expects to be capable of quickly and easily understand and tackle any new task or concept within their line of work. So, if at any point, they find it hard to grasp and perform a task they will feel anxious and doubt their overall capabilities.

Type 4 – The Soloist

This type of imposter believes they have to do everything on their own. In other words, a sense that asking for help or assistance is a sign of weakness. 

Type 5 – The Superhuman

This describes someone who measures their success by the number of roles they can both juggle and master. In this mindset, a person will feel ashamed when falling short in any role, even if they excel in others.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome 

There are various easily implementable actions you can take to minimize and eventually overcome the feeling of imposter syndrome.

Here are nine suggestions.

Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself.

If you’re starting a new senior role don’t try and reach stardom on day one. Set small achievable goals that will gradually increase your knowledge and aptitude towards the role.

Recognize that you really are an expert in your field

Talk to people who don’t know anything about your area of expertise and you’ll be surprised how confident it will make you feel. Especially since you will realize that you actually do know a lot about your subject matter.

Acknowledge that failure is part of the process

Everyone fails now and again. Failure will allow you to grow stronger and is a necessary part of your growth trajectory. So practice responding to failure in a healthy way.

Remember nobody is perfect

Imposter syndrome is a very isolating feeling. But as we shared above, these feelings are really common in the workplace. So the next time you’re feeling this way, try to share those feelings with someone else. 

Find and open up to a group of people who can act as your support system. These can be colleagues, family, a networking group of like-minded professionals, a local alumni branch, or coaches and mentors. Make sure you lean on them when needed.

Acknowledge that confidence will take some time

The confidence in your skills when starting a new role, is something you will build through hard work and dedication.

Instead of trying to conjure up confidence in your new role through sheer force, it can be freeing to accept that you don’t have to have all the answers right away.

If you don’t feel confident in your abilities right now, be confident in your ability to learn and grow. Confidence will come with time and experience.

Focus on the facts

Imposter syndrome makes you feel like you aren’t good at your job. But oftentimes, these feelings are based on fear—not reality. It ill therefore help to separate your feelings from the facts. 

As an example. If you’re a first-time manager, take time to consider what has been accomplished and the role you played in getting there.

This exercise will help you claim ownership of what your team has achieved and why you were an instrumental part of the end result.

Get Feedback

Receiving constructive feedback is essential to personal and professional growth. However, you need to ask for specific feedback to help you fight your insecurities.

Understand which are the areas where you feel like an imposter, and ty and get specific feedback around your performance in those aspects of your job.

Look for a mentor

Look for someone in your company or your field who can give you practical advice and support. This might be a senior leader, or a leader at another company that you look up to.

Do not compare yourself to others, or try to outdo them

A common symptom of imposter syndrome is comparing yourself to your colleagues and thinking you’re worse at your job than they are. 

If you feel tempted to compare yourself to your peers, try to take a step back and instead see what you can learn from them.

There will always be team members who have strengths in certain areas you don’t, and vice versa.

So, instead of feeling inadequate when someone else did a good job, recognize their good work, and use it as a blueprint for the future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Impostor syndrome is much more common than most people realize—and it gets worse as you become more senior and take on more responsibility.

It is therefore important to build strategies that help you acknowledge and address it.

Keep a positive and growth mindset.

Just because you don’t know something, is not the end of the world. You still have a chance to go figure it out.

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