It can happen to any of us at any moment in our lives or careers. We take on a new role and suddenly find ourselves trying to figure out how to be great at what we do, we move to a new country and find ourselves trying to find a new client market that matches our skills, we switch companies and need to, once again, prove our capabilities, or, quite simply, we see someone who works in the same (or similar) field as us looking like a hotshot on LinkedIn and suddenly feel like maybe we’re not that good at what we do after all. Imposter Syndrome, loosely defined as feeling a sense of self-doubt about what you are capable of or feeling like a fraud, can strike at any time. It is not reserved for those who are new in their careers or for those who have just taken over the CEO role of a Fortune 500. Every single one of us suffers from it at one point or another in our lives. In fact, the more new challenges you take on in your life and career, the more often you feel like an imposter!
It just hit me (again) earlier today. I was scrolling through my LinkedIn and found two posts from two different women whom I both admire and am in awe of. Both are entrepreneurs in different, but somewhat aligned, areas of work. Both are eloquent speakers. Both offer extremely valuable insights and ideas. Both are generous with their wisdom. And both look like they are absolutely killing it!
Having started my own journey as an entrepreneur just a few years ago, I know that each of these businesswomen is in a similar stage of their journey as me – having started their own businesses within a year or two of myself. I know them to be intelligent, dedicated, hardworking, and brilliant at what they do. And while I celebrate their awesome talents, there is a sneaking doubt that creeps in, “Are they better at what they do than I am at what I do?”
It's silly, of course. Them being great at what they do in no way means that I am or am not good at my work. In fact, them being great at what they do means that the same is not only possible for me, but probably – since they are in my sphere of influence. But that tiny voice of self-doubt has a way of planting seeds you never wanted or expected to come in.
And so, here are four steps I take when I feel my imposter syndrome starting to kick up.
1. Look at what it is that triggers the imposter syndrome in the first place. What is making me feel like a fraud? Why are these insecurities being raised today? Understanding what drives this sense of insecurity can help to recognize where else it might be showing up in my life and allows me to look for patterns or clarity around what creates self-doubt or fear.
2. Consider what in my life I would like to be different. Sometimes imposter syndrome shows up when I’m ready to take the next step in my career or life. Watching someone else do something well and taking note of it is often a clear indicator of something I actually want to create for myself. If someone I know is making gorgeous and incredibly helpful videos to support their clients and I feel my own imposter syndrome kick in, it could be that I, too, want to create valuable and insightful videos to support my audience. This may be the first indicator that I’m ready to take on a new challenge.
3. Write a list of what I know to be true about myself. This list can include who I am, the people I have served, what I’m great at, etc. It can also include things I know are not my jam, like keeping my books or responding to client emails on time (oops!) Getting clear about what is true helps me to get clear about what is not true.
4. Write out my top 3 achievements in recent years. Remembering what I have accomplished helps me to feel grounded and secure in my own creations and gives me a stronger sense of the value I provide. That way I can be sure I am not feeling imposter syndrome because I think I’m not worthy enough.
What does your imposter syndrome teach you about who you are and what you want to create?
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