5 Ways to Tackle Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like you shouldn't be in the role that you are in or that you aren't good enough? Do you lack self confidence despite being told that you are talented and good at what you do? Do you feel like someone is going to "find out" that you aren't up for the task? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is likely that you are suffering from imposter syndrome and if you are, it's time to shake-it-off.

Imposter syndrome is one of the most common issues facing women as they climb the corporate and entrepreneurial ladders (I'm sure that some men can relate too, but this one is for the ladies). Every coaching client I have ever had can point to a time when he or she has felt this way. Before you start being hard on yourself, understand that the reasons that you feel this way start with the societal construct around what and who women should be. All of the images that we are fed each day show women as caretakers and not much else. How often do you see a man in a laundry commercial? It is important for you to be aware that your reasons for feeling like an imposter from time to time are not only down to you. They are societal, cultural and even social. Further...they are not within your control. What is within your control is how you respond to those external factors. What are you going to do to shift the "imposter syndrome" menace?

  1. You are in the role that you are in because someone had faith in your abilities and put you there. You wouldn't be there if you hadn't demonstrated your capability. While I'm not advocating resting on your laurels, its time for you to believe what someone else already knows: You deserve to be here.

  2. Don't be afraid to celebrate your successes both alone and with others. There is no better confidence booster than being celebrated for a job well done. The trick is taking that feeling and celebrating yourself by yourself when you accomplish things large and small. Its okay to go into the bathroom stall and fist pump like there is no tomorrow. I do it all of the time and it-feels-good!

  3. Ask for feedback from your manager/leader and peers. Now, there are people who are completely oblivious to the fact that they are making a mess of things or believe that they are hiding the mess that they are making however, the real victims of imposter syndrome project doom and gloom around performance or situations when there is really no doom and gloom at all. Those folks are often the highest achievers with the highest standards for their own performance. Sound familiar? Ask your leaders and peers for feedback on your performance. Don't be afraid to know the real deal before performance review time. Do not ask how you are doing every 5 minutes because that gets really annoying but do ask when there are larger deliverables or when you want to ensure that you are on the right course. You will often be pleasantly surprised at what you hear and anything that is shared with you that needs improvement will be known to you well before it comes a potential performance issue.

  4. You are not alone. Know that there are lots of people that feel the same way that you do. Lots of people are "faking it until they make it". I suggest talking to a trusted colleague and asking them if they have ever felt what you feel. Create a buddy relationship and pump each other up. Having a cheerleader...someone who is really in your corner and wants to see you excel will change your life.

  5. Stop taking yourself and your work so seriously. Honestly...your obituary will not be defined by how well you did your job though it may reference some accomplishments. It should be filled with who you were to people and the wonderful things you did. Spend more time focusing on those things both inside and outside of work. When you are authentic and show yourself for who you really are and what is important to you, imposter syndrome has no place. So...take off the mask and enjoy yourself. Life is not a dress rehearsal.