I am a fraud. What was I thinking?
A little voice in my head whispers…” You are about to get exposed. It’s a fluke that all these people came here to listen to you.”
Have you ever felt like that? I have. And more often than you think.
The truth is, I’m not the only one. Research shows that over 70% of people suffer from the same symptoms.
Male or female. From new graduates to the most experienced Board Directors. There is no prejudice.
I must admit, however, in my experience or perhaps in my line of work, I find it is particularly prevalent in many high-achieving women I come across.
The technical term is “imposter phenomenon.” But is commonly known as “Imposter Syndrome.”
“a concept describing high achieving individual who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.” Wikipedia
But wait, I hear you say. It’s all in your mind. Just get over it. Be confident and think positive.
It’s not that simple. I should know as I have been there. Before I post an article or step in front of an audience, I get that feeling. I wanted to share with you some of the simple strategies that have helped me overcome the feeling.
Just having a label on it, has made it significantly easier for me. When the voices of self-doubt creep in, instead of the drama series playing in my head, I can compartmentalise it and respond accordingly.
Be able to self-praise.
I find this incredibly hard. I am just learning how to accept other people’s praise of me; you can read more about that in this article. “Stop selling yourself short.” So the concept of being able to praise myself is quite foreign to me.
What I’m talking about the ability to attribute success to something you have done, not just an act of randomness. Take me for example, if I ace a presentation I need to take ownership that the reason it went well was the preparation, the practice, the fine tuning, the countless hours I put into making it a success. It’s one thing for someone to say it to me, it’s completely another for me to say it to myself.
Change our dialogue.
I recently conducted some interviews, and one of the questions I asked was “What was your big career break?” On reflection, that’s saying to my interviewees; it’s not you, something happened that gave you a big break. Someone took a risk on you. You were given a responsibility you weren’t meant to have. Instead, I’m going to change my language to “Tell us how you have become so successful?”
Sometimes, we don’t even realise the words we say and the impact it can have on someone. We can change our dialogue.
Rewire your brain
Anyone who has worked in my teams will know this simple team game I play. Start with a piece of paper, with your name on the top, pass it around till everyone in the team writes something that they admire about you.
With all the teams I have had the pleasure of leading, I still keep my papers with me. I have some from 2002. When I feel the weight of the world coming on or I know I’m about to walk into a situation it may rare its ugly head; I pull out my papers, I read, pause and take the time to rewire what success looks like for me.
Are you one of 70% of people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome? If so, what do you do to keep it in check?