What is Imposter Syndrome? It’s outward, visible success layered over self-doubts and insecurity.
You work hard. You push yourself to do great work. Your resume is studded with accomplishments. On the outside, you look successful.
But underneath that outer success, you’re suffering. And the people you work with have no idea. They don’t know how the doubts keep you up at night. How much you worry about what other people think. How you don’t really trust it when people say you’ve done a good job. How you fear for your job, despite evidence that you’re okay. They don’t see that what’s driving you (at least in part) is fear – that you’re not good enough; that you’re not enough.
Worst of all, they don’t know how much that doubt and insecurity is holding you back. How it keeps you from doing your best. How it leads you to procrastinate. Or to under-prepare or avoid work, as you’re distracted by your worries. Because you produce quality work despite it all, they think you’re performing at your best. But you’re not. Not even close.
You have so much more to offer. It’s so frustrating to imagine what you could accomplish if you weren’t so insecure. You see other people who look confident and sure and imagine being in their shoes. If only you were more like them! If only you believed in yourself. If only you could walk in and command the room the way they do. Then your career would be on fire! And you’d be so much happier.
Since people can’t see what’s going on in your head, you can “pass” as someone who’s confident. You can put on a good face and play the game. Fake it till you make it. You think you have to, to get ahead. Because if they knew – really knew – then your doubts about yourself might be contagious. The last thing you need is for them to lose confidence in you, too. So you keep it to yourself. Secret. No one can know.
Unfortunately, in the era of “authenticity”, this puts you in a real bind. How can you be authentic when you have to hide a big part of yourself from everyone? You end up feeling even more like a fraud. It’s a downward spiral. Exhausting.
And since you can’t tell anyone, you can’t ask for help. If you do, you’re likely to get a bracing lecture on how you’re actually doing well. Buck up, buttercup. You’re fine. Never let’em see you sweat.
Here’s the good news. This experience isn’t personal. It’s not about you.
The experience of Imposter Syndrome comes from an internal disconnect. The stories we have about ourselves don’t align with the reality of our accomplishments. What’s at the heart of the disconnect? The messages that surround us, telling us we’re not enough. These may come from our families of origin. They may be part of our company culture. They’re definitely part of our national culture – at least here in the U.S. Marketing messages bombard us daily, pointing to our shortcomings – so that we’ll buy something that will fix them.
If you identify in some way with a minority group, the messages are amplified. Stereotypes and unflattering tropes abound. And real-life experiences reinforce the messages. When you’re the only one at the table, it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong.
Luckily, there are specific techniques that you can use to conquer Imposter Syndrome. There are strategies that will help you embody confidence and competence from the inside, not as an act, but because that’s who you are. I know because I’ve spent my career studying, developing and using them – with my clients, and with myself. They’re simple and effective – though not always easy. It takes a willingness to change. It takes an investment of time and energy. It takes being coachable and resourceful.
That investment is 100% worth it. Without the burden of Imposter Syndrome, my clients come to life. They have more energy for their work, and more drive to take on new challenges. Good performers become great ones. Great performers become true superstars. Without the negative thoughts and insecurities, they’re able to be more creative, more innovative. Their confidence is infectious, so they’re more persuasive. More importantly, they feel better – lighter, happier, more confident and more at ease in themselves. From there, anything is possible. The result: a major up-leveling of their careers and their lives.
If you’re tired of being weighed down by your own Imposter Syndrome, let’s talk. Book a call with me at zmcoach.net/call. We’ll talk about your current situation. We’ll talk about your future. What becomes possible for you when you’re no longer weighed down by self-doubts? We’ll identify specific next steps you can take. If you’re a fit to work with me, we’ll explore what that could look like. If not, I’ll do my best to steer you to other resources. Either way, I promise it will be one of the best hours you’ve spent on your career.