Imposter Syndrome: you refuse to accept that your success is deserved, or that it’s been legitimately achieved due to your effort or skills. You doubt that you belong with the company you now keep because really, you’re an inadequate fraud and the people around you probably have their suspicions. What if they find out? What if you’re exposed as the fraud you know you are?
Does this sound familiar?
When you think about it, Imposter Syndrome is a ludicrous fear and lie with no rational basis but yet, it’s incredibly common, affecting people from all walks of life, including intelligent and measured people. For some, it strikes them following a promotion or an experience of success and for others, it simply lingers in the background regardless of how their lives unfold.
But whatever the reason, Imposter Syndrome leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety and it prevents people from putting themselves forward for things, which they’re perfectly capable of delivering, thus holding them back professionally and undermining their potential.
Most lifestyle gurus will advise you to affirm yourself by reminding yourself of your strengths, to focus on gratitude, to tackle your negative self-talk and all the other familiar things you’ve read a hundred times before, but when I coach leaders suffering from Imposter Syndrome, I take them through a butt-kicking, 3-step process which works a treat.
Don’t fight it, don’t try to conquer it or squash it, just embrace it and give it a big hug because if you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome, it means you’re a good person. It clearly matters to you that you live with integrity and you make progress because of your skills and contribution. So give yourself a pat on the back. Imposter Syndrome just proves you are a good, honest person and this world needs more good, honest people like you.
2. LAUGH AT IT
Choose to see the funny side because Imposter Syndrome is ridiculous. To be an imposter, you need to pretend to be someone else, in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain (according to the Oxford dictionary). So as long as you’re not pretending to be someone else, (taking on their character, facial features, accent, mannerisms and signature) for deceitful reasons, then you can’t actually be an impostor, so worrying about something you can’t be, is a bit silly and it’s always helpful to laugh at silly things.
3. DISEMPOWER IT
A) Remember that most people suffer from Imposter Syndrome, particularly in new situations, following change and following success, so it’s not big deal if you’re suffering from it.
B) Long term, no one really cares about your achievements, which university you went to, or whether you made it to the top of Mount Everest without using an oxygen tank. What people do care about is whether you are humble, kind and have good manners. If so, you’ll be liked and admired and if not, it doesn’t matter if you nailed Mount Everest, you will NOT be popular. So if no one really cares about your achievements and most people are too busy to think too much about them, then Impostor Syndrome is the weakest, most irrelevant bully who ever existed, so do what you would do with most bullies (particularly the weak ones), stand up to them, face them and kick them in the butt.