Welcome to the club

It’s funny. I’m sitting down to write an article on Imposter Syndrome. And not just a minute ago, I was on a phone call feeling like a complete fraud myself.

I’d had a conversation with a client earlier in the morning, and my colleague (who had coincidently just got off the phone to the MD at the same organisation) had rung me to check in and see how the conversation went. As I was providing an update all I could think about as I was talking was that “I’ve said something wrong, p***** off the client, lost the business and I’m about to get told”.

None of that happened. It was just my colleague being a decent person and checking in on me. The end.

What does that say about me? Someone who struggles with self-doubt and confidence, telling everyone else how to supposedly deal with it.

It means that I’m in the majority. I’m normal. I’m just like everyone else. How boring is that? But oh, how easily we forget.

Let me guess. You yourself are in a very responsible role. You get good, if not above average, performance reviews. You may have even been even promoted recently. Your team respects you, or at least others tell you that they do.

Though successful, you don’t have that MBA or latest “thing” everyone is talking about. Heck, you don’t even have formal qualifications and that haunts you. You just received your 360-degree feedback and the feedback from others mainly exceeds your own perception.

In spite of all of these positive affirmations, you still put your head on the pillow every night wondering why you are not effective in your role. With every knock on your office door (or phone call), you think they’ve found you out and you will be frog-marched from the building.

When you get an invite to meet with your boss, you first wonder what you have done wrong, you look back over your diary and prepare justifications for every decision or comment you made. In fact, you typically prepare for the worst in most situations and any meeting that you don’t get invited to, you wonder if they’re talking about your performance.

Sound familiar? Hey, welcome to the club. You suffer from the Imposter Syndrome too.

Our Insider Tactics

So we’ve established that it’s normal. In fact, we have this conversation with most of our coaching clients. But how do we manage to pull our heads out of the constant fear that we’re going to get found out and get back to our jobs (and the reasonably good one we were doing)?

Here are a few tactics to help:

  • Remember there is a difference between being good, effective, great even, and perfect. Your goal should not be perfect. All leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals will have their strengths, and also their limitations. Get to know yours and stop beating yourself up and comparing yourself to others.
  • Review your 360 and directly compare ‘their’ feedback with yours. Try and understand why you have unrecognised strengths and then ask the respondents to provide some examples or anecdotes to evidence their views. This also silences those voices that might come up to downplay compliments such us “oh they’re just being nice” or “they don’t really know what I do”.
  • Train yourself to see the full picture. Usually we’re great at remembering the things we could do better but downplay or completely fail to recognise the great feedback we receive and our achievements. Without getting too ‘woo woo’, turn any positive experiences or achievements into affirming beliefs (or at least more constructive ones) Ie, my boss thinks I’m ok, my team think I am ok, my partner hasn’t walked out, and my kids appear to still love and respect me. So, why don’t I?
  • Try to interrupt that conversation in your head telling yourself how hopeless you are and think “what would I say to my best friend if I was talking to them instead of myself”.
  • When you catch yourself comparing your impact to others, remind yourself that they’re probably thinking similar doubts about their performance.
  • If the impact of the Imposter Syndrome is debilitating, seek professional help to move away from your self-deprecation.

And of course. We’re always here to give you a gentle uppercut for treating yourself so poorly. If you’d like guidance whilst putting any of these tactics in place, contact TACTICIAN.

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