“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
One of our most famous writers said that: Pulitzer Prize winner, Maya Angelou.
It’s hard to understand but many of the world’s most successful people feel like imposters. To us it seems perfectly clear that they are brilliant at what they do, yet they can’t see it in themselves. This is imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome has been defined as “a thought pattern where a person has a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud,” and which makes that person doubt himself and/or minimise their accomplishments.”
Who experiences imposter syndrome?
The experts, the perfectionists, the over workers, people who have high expectations of themselves, and it’s quite common in high achievers and leaders.
Surprised? We shouldn’t be. These are the people who have clear standards in their minds and regularly assess themselves against them. They are also the people most likely to experiences fear of failure.
Why high achievers?
The research isn’t clear on why it’s people like high achievers who commonly feel like imposters. Some are driven by innate personality styles, others by what they were taught as children, when nothing was good enough for their families but an A Grade. They feel the pressure to perform and the fear of criticism if they aren’t the best of the best. They constantly measure their own performance against others and find it lacking.
Does that ring a bell with you? Do you see yourself here? If you do, you need to deal with the voice in your head which is making you feel “not good enough.”
Dealing with imposter syndrome.
Today I’d like to share some additional insights to help you stand confidently in your own light. These tips will help shift your perspective and free your thinking.
- It’s not about you. It doesn’t matter what the voice in your head is saying, and it doesn’t matter what expectations you think people hold about you. In all honesty, people aren’t looking at you. They are looking at your work or the service you deliver.
When you take the personal element out of the situation, it’s much easier to view things from a balanced perspective. You can be an ‘impartial’ onlooker. Concentrate on delivering a service, and not on the way you do it.
- Look at the evidence: You aren’t in your present position just by luck. You earned it. Look back at what you’ve achieved. It’s easy to forget the good things you’ve done when you focus on meeting your own high expectations. The truth is that if you were assessing someone else who had achieved everything you have, you’d be far more generous in your opinion. Recognise what you’re good at and the progress you’ve made.
- Define your core values: Your core values are the things which you rely on to help you make your choices. They influence your goals and the way you go about achieving them. Kara Lambert describes them as universal truths, saying human beliefs change, but values rarely do. Knowing your values gives you an insight into what matter to you, building your self-awareness.
By concentrating on your values and what matters to you, you shift the emphasis away from your comparison with others. What they do (and how well they do it) gradually becomes less important to you. Keep your eye on your values and goals and assess yourself against your progress there.
Imposter syndrome is a thought pattern and that means it can be changed. Follow these three tips and start thinking differently.