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Is Imposter Syndrome holding back your career?

Have you written off your success as a result of luck, timing, or being able to convince others that you are somehow more competent than you really are? If so, there’s a big chance you are experiencing what psychologists have coined ‘Imposter Syndrome’.

Imposter Syndrome isn’t a mental illness, disease or an insidious personality trait which will derail all areas of your life. It is the inability high-achieving individuals to internalise their accomplishments, and the persistent sense of being a fraud.

Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone

I first stumbled across this theory while speaking to a friend I am going to call Joe. Joe is a high-flying lawyer who told me how he had just won a prestigious industry award for his achievements. While on stage, he had two thoughts: “Why me?” and “At least I get to keep my job for another year!” Signature Imposter Syndrome.

I coach lots of incredibly talented businesspeople, many of whom are at the top of their corporate ladders, leading big teams and organisations. They have successful careers, yet, periodically they become concerned about their competence and surprisingly humble about - even dismissive of - their achievements.

How to combat Imposter Syndrome

You may have read this far and thought, “that’s me.” But what can you do about it? Well here’s a secret: once you’ve recognised it, it’s not so hard to tackle. Here’s how I help my clients:

  • Firstly, if it’s happening to you, you can bet it’s happening to many of those incredibly confident-looking people around you too. Just knowing that can help you feel less isolated.
  • Think about the positives. Compile a list of all your professional achievements, compliments, accolades and testimonials. This will help change the narrative and remind yourself of how far you have come, what you have achieved, and that you deserve your success.
  • Evaluate what makes you unique. No matter what your role, there is something within your experience that is unique to you. Perhaps you have created a department from scratch, or you developed a new system. It could be that you have experience from a different industry that gives you an edge. Whatever it is, find your niche and recognise the strength in that.
  • Create a strong, supportive group of friends, co-workers and mentors. Focus on having people in your life who have your back and will help build you up, but ensure they are straight talkers who will provide honest feedback when you need it. That way, you know you can trust their opinions and seek encouragement when you need a boost.
  • Use proven techniques that assist in changing your internal dialogue. I like to use various methodologies with my clients, such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), to help them embody the successful person they already are and manifest that confidence.

If you experience the signs of Imposter Syndrome, try running through the points above and see how they can change the way you view yourself and your career success. You might just send that imposter packing once and for all.

Yvette discussed overcoming Imposter Syndrome futher in our latest webinar, which you can view below.