5 Ways to Silence Impostor Syndrome at Work
Elbows balanced on the glossy wood, he leaned across from the other side of his desk as if to unload a great secret. I mirrored his movement, ready to receive his confession. "You know", he said quietly, "Men suffer from Impostor Syndrome too." "I know." I whispered back. I was in a meeting with the CEO of a prominent organisation, discussing the upcoming leadership coaching program we were designing for a group of his female employees. Some of them were new to leadership whilst others had been recognised as potential candidates for future senior roles. When it came to Impostor Syndrome, a component of the program, the CEO and I discovered we had quite a bit to discuss. So what is it, who has it and how do we reduce or eliminate it? Also known as Fraud Complex, Impostor Syndrome arises when we have stepped into something different or bolder than ever before and we allow thoughts and feelings of self-doubt to engulf us. We doubt that our skills, training, experience and ability are enough to warrant our appointment into the role. This often leads to fear - fear being 'found out', fear of failure or even fear of losing our job. To combat this feeling of inadequacy we make choices that help us feel 'better' in the short term, but definitely won't lead to success in the long term. I LOVE IT when a client tells me they are suffering from self-doubt, or feeling like a fraud or impostor. I often, much to their surprise, let out a huge cheer. Because that client, sitting right in front of me, is blowing my mind in that moment. I am in awe of them. I feel inspired by them. I want to celebrate them. To 'suffer' from Impostor Syndrome means you are IN THE GAME. You are challenging yourself, expanding your mind, leaning into your potential, going for gold, unlocking your growth mindset. To suffer is to feel uncomfortable. And there is no transformation without discomfort. If you are feeling like an impostor or a fraud right now, CONGRATULATIONS. My hat goes off to you. You only join this elite club by leaning into your edge. But here's the kicker. Whilst it's a fabulous club to be a member of, you will not be able to perform to your full capacity if you are operating throughout the day from a place of fear. So, let's start moving you through your un-comfortableness and into confidence. 5 Ways to Silence Impostor Syndrome at Work 1. Feelings v Truth You may feel like an Impostor, but feelings are not truth. You may have an tiny voice whispering you're not good enough, but it's lying to you. Try this: Grab your journal, or notepad, and pen write out all your professional successes. Remind yourself that you've recently nailed things that, may have once, seemed impossible. 2. Failure is Feedback Most likely, the thing you fear hasn't happened (and may never happen). You are imagining the outcome of something, and making it negative. What if the worst does happen? Are you resilient enough to handle it? Do you learn from your mistakes? Something I love about mistakes is the lesson is now behind me, instead of in my future. Try this: Write our all your professional mistakes. Big stuff-ups, when things went awry. What did you learn? How did you bounce back? How did you grow? What do you do differently now? 3. Self-Compassion Give yourself a break. It is impossible to feel 100% confident when stepping into something new, bigger, brighter or bolder than ever before. Confidence comes via experience, not the other way around. Try this: Remind yourself that, whilst they are unhelpful, these thoughts and feelings are natural and designed to protect you from perceived danger. Be kind to yourself and release them gently. 4. Create More Confidence Something I love about the definition of confidence is that it's the act of feeling or showing surety in something. You don't need to feel confident to display confidence. Faking it until you make it IS within the definition. Woo hoo! Try this: Consider what your non-verbal cues (eye-contact, stance, posture, smile) are communicating to others before you've even said a word. Start making decisions and speaking up. Go on, see what happens. 5. Be Honest and Authentic It's okay to have an off-day. You're allowed to not know the answer. We all have a professional persona, but a 'Mask of Perfection' will become exhausting, unhelpful and people may find it difficult to trust you. Try this: Inform your boss if you're feeling overwhelmed and ask her to help you prioritise your projects. Explain to your employee/client/colleague you don't know the answer but you'll get back to them - and make sure you do.
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Until I see you again, stay healthy and safe.