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Ask a leadership expert:
Beat Imposter Syndrome by Building Your Confidence
By Jenn DeWall Confidence and Leadership Coach & Keynote Speaker & Trainer.
Have you ever received an assignment at work and thought to yourself, “Why on earth do they think I can handle this?” Or maybe you were told you did a great job on a project and couldn’t help thinking, “I can’t believe they liked that! I had no idea what I was doing; I thought they would see right through me!” If you have felt this way at work—you are NOT alone! It’s called Imposter Syndrome. And it affects 65% of professionals!
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is that sense of self-doubt that creeps in when we aren’t feeling confident at work. Some people experience it as feeling like a fraud or a fake. It affects high-performing people, who, for various reasons, feel like they have somehow tricked people into thinking they can do a good job. Imposter syndrome can affect people at any phase of their career and is actually more common in senior positions! In fact, former first lady Michelle Obama talks about it in her book, Becoming, “I still have a little imposter syndrome. It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power, and what that power is.”
What are the characteristics of imposter syndrome?
Doubting your skill and competence despite evidence to the contrary
Crediting “good luck” for your success
Isolating yourself at work so no one “finds you out.”
Burning out from overworking
Fear of failure
Is Imposter Syndrome Holding You Back at Work?
If you are experiencing imposter syndrome, it will definitely impact your work. It can keep you from applying to a job you’d be great at because you don’t believe you have what it takes. It can cause anxiety and stress that may cause you to stumble over words in an important meeting. If you feel like you are secretly not good enough, you might hold back during networking events and miss out on making great connections that can further your career. And, of course, if you are overcompensating for self-doubt by overworking to the point of burnout—at some point, it will be impossible to continue that path. Our brains and bodies don’t function at their best when we are in a constant cycle of stress and fear. So, what can we do to overcome these feelings and build confidence?
How to Beat Imposter Syndrome and Build Confidence
When imposter syndrome starts to creep in, and your self-confidence has left the building, there are some things you can do to get back on track!
Separate Facts from Feelings
Remember that just because you feel like you are not good enough does not make it true! Feelings are not facts, so take some time to gather evidence and separate the facts from your current feelings. For example, think about your most recent projects. Did you complete the work? Did you hit objectives and deadlines? Can you think of something concrete that you could improve if you had to do it again? If there is something real that you can improve on, great! Build your confidence by improving in that area! If everything went well, you know your feelings aren’t based on facts. When that happens, remind yourself that the facts prove you are absolutely good enough and worthy of praise!
Work with a Coach
Working with a coach can help you build confidence. A great coach can offer support and advice and be a sounding board or reality-check. They can help you get better at separating facts from feelings and teach you to reframe negative thoughts to become a more confident, self-aware and resilient person.
Nothing will build your confidence and beat imposter syndrome more effectively than learning to love yourself! Our relationship with ourselves is the most powerful one in our lives, yet we often overlook it. Practice treating yourself with the same respect and compassion that you would treat a close friend. Listen to your self-talk and your thoughts about yourself. If you wouldn’t say that to someone you care about, don’t you dare say it to yourself! If you could use some practice in this area, try writing a letter to an imaginary dear friend having the same struggle you are having. What would you tell them to do? How would you show them compassion? Then later, when you need encouragement, read that letter and remember it was written for you!
Most people doubt themselves at some point in their lives. But with some help and practice, you can learn to beat feelings of imposter syndrome and build your confidence!
Jenn DeWall is a leadership speaker, facilitator, trainer, and podcast host. Jenn is a Millennial leadership and workplace culture expert based in Denver, CO. Do you want to create a culture of belonging? Contact Jenn today.