Now you’ve done it. You’ve taken a step out of your comfort zone. It’s not even a big step, and suddenly the Imposter Syndrome has returned. You know better than to listen to it, but somehow you can’t shut it out. Imposter Syndrome is widespread no matter our gender, field, or level of expertise. It shows up at all point in your career, and it continues to appear as you become increasingly successful. Many of the most powerful people face it in their lives.
As a reminder, Imposter Syndrome is that voice in your head that questions if you’re good enough. It suggests you are out of your league, everyone is going to realize you are a fraud, and you are going to fail. It’s the voice that always knowns the right things to say to shred your confidence. It appears when others are going to see something you have or are going to do. People are going to be judging you. Are you going to measure up? Or are you going to be found out?
So how do you deal with it. Alaina Love’s post, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, offers 4 steps to take to overcome it. Maybe some of these tools will help you when you’re faced with it:
- Examine Your Inner Demons – What happened in your past that continues to haunt you? What project didn’t go as planned? What are you expecting or fearing will go wrong? Love recommends writing some of these down and reviewing them. By examining your concerns head on, you will likely see the places where you’re being unrealistic as well as where you’ve succeeded in the past (even when things didn’t go exactly as planed). We can take away from Imposter Syndrome’s hold on us when we see where it is bringing up old fears not valid concerns.
- Create a New Narrative – Now that you know where your thoughts are creating issues that aren’t there, we can take the time to envision true success, something that actively stills the negative voices. Love points to athletes who mentally go through an upcoming game and rehearse their moves. Envision yourself as succeeding in your challenges, picture the successful end result, and think about how you will feel to see this through as a way to override the message from the Imposter Syndrome.
- Rein in Your Quest for Perfection – The need to do it perfectly is almost inherent in why Imposter Syndrome shows up. Excellence, not perfection, is the goal. The bigger the project, the more room there is for making some errors. You will never get it all right, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t a success. After the project/presentation/etc., instead of focusing on what went wrong (because that’s what we always notice first), reflect on and write down what went well and where you’re pleased. If there were problems, take time to learn from them and see what you could have done differently, but keep your focus – and inner voice – on the positive.
- Make a List of Your Successes – Keep a record of your small and large successes. Create an e-portfolio or some other record if that helps. It is amazing the achievements we can forget as we move on with our lives. As I said in last week’s blog, You Are Successful Now. Keep track of that success and reduce the Syndrome’s appearances and how long it stays. Love refers to this record as a “highlight reel” of your accomplishments. It is something to review as you take the next step out of your comfort zone – and for when your Imposter Syndrome starts squawking. Use it whenever your mind begins that negative talk, possibly doing it every day.
Knowing how to manage Imposter Syndrome is an important tool. I have written about Imposter Syndrome in my blogs, discussed it in some of my books, and included it in several presentations, and still there are times when it has power over me. If you’re going to be a leader and stretch out of your comfort zone, Imposter Syndrome is going to come back. Love’s recommendations can help you manage it when it appears. (It wouldn’t surprise me to learn she had to face down her own Imposter Syndrome when writing it.) Find ways to own, remember, and build on your successes, and that pesky voice won’t get in the way of your next steps.