Imposter Syndrome is Killing Your Brand: 5 Tricks to Get Over It and Get Back On Track
You’ve heard of it, and maybe you’re feeling it now. Imposter Syndrome: that insidious inner voice that keeps telling you that your success is undeserved no matter how hard you’ve worked. It’s only a matter of time until “everyone else” finds out that you’re a fraud. Your failure is inevitable. Sound familiar?
The phrase, imposter syndrome, was coined by researchers examining the limiting mindsets of high-performing women. The trouble is, so many professionals (up to a full 70% of us!) get caught up in imposter syndrome no matter our qualifications or career achievements, cutting across gender, race, age, industries, and experiences.
Giving into imposter syndrome inevitably hurts your leadership brand and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The pandemic’s fallout caused career anxiety to skyrocket. As more Americans – particularly working mothers – re-enter the workforce after losing their jobs in 2020, imposter syndrome has the potential to limit their earnings and status even more.
How can you overcome those nagging feelings of doubt and insecurity that are holding you back?
- Map Out Your Value: Taking a step back, you know that a lifetime of work has gone into the person you are today. Yes, it’s easy to focus on immediate challenges and setbacks rather than actually appreciating where you’ve come from To get over these feelings of inadequacy, take time to write down the skills – impressive or not – that you bring to your team, project, client or company. Keep this value map handy so that when you start to feel like you don’t have what it takes or someone is about to find out your weaknesses, you can turn around that internal conversation.
- Tap Into Your Network: You probably have a wealth of informal mentors and peers who’ve been where you are. Create a list of your go-to people when you need to bounce an idea, assess a difficult situation, or reframe your approach. Often, just talking through different solutions and what’s holding you back can offer a new perspective and enough energy to take action. You can even practice upcoming conversations so you feel confident and better prepared.
- Embrace An Alter-Ego What would it look like if you were the most powerful version of yourself? Instead of striving to be someone you’re not, think of yourself as a character in your own life. How would the amplified you tackle a stretch opportunity or a political landmine at your company? That person would definitely be vocal about what they bring to the table and own their success. Strategically advocating for yourself and highlighting your achievements makes you look strong and competent, not vain or arrogant.
- Practice Some New Skills Identify one or two areas where improvements would boost your confidence and overall performance in your field. Maybe it’s public speaking or project management. Take a class, join a professional organization or volunteer for low-pressure opportunities where you can learn and rehearse in a safe environment. Honing your expertise with no fear of impacts at work will enable you to develop a stronger self-image.
- Pay It Forward: Just as you leverage your relationships to gain perspective, offer your experiences to others – particularly junior colleagues. Sharing how you’ve handled challenges throughout your career will serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come, instead of focusing on where you think you’re lacking. You never know how valuable your stories of struggles or success can have on someone facing their own crisis.
Being a leader doesn’t mean you never have moments where you question yourself. Knocking out the imposter mindset to focus on authenticity helps you earn trust, build more credibility, and achieve more accolades – without the stress of your own worst critic.
“Imposter Syndrome: that insidious inner voice that keeps telling you that your success is undeserved no matter how hard you’ve worked."
"Knocking out the imposter mindset to focus on authenticity helps you earn trust, build more credibility, and achieve more accolades. "
Jennifer Lemmert is a communications consultant, specializing in employee engagement and executive branding. A mom of two with a passion for amplifying women’s voices, she dropped out of the workforce to launch her own independent practice in the midst of the pandemic.
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