Think of someone you consider a successful person. Got that person in mind? Good. To you they are a walking and breathing example of success - however you define it. But guess what they’re also an example of? Imposter syndrome. They, like almost all successful people, have experienced imposter syndrome.
And they may or may not have overcome it.
Today I’m sharing with you how to overcome imposter syndrome at work.
Let’s get after it.
The discomfort we feel around imposter syndrome is due to cognitive distortion. Meaning, you doubt your competence, accomplishments, and feel like you're undeserving of the position you find yourself in.
Let’s remedy this, shall we?
1) Behave the Way you Want to Feel
No one wants to feel like a fraud. The easiest way to change this is to start behaving the way an expert would feel. What does that confidence feel like? Try it on. You heard me, imagine what having the confidence of an expert would feel like and try it on, much like you would a perfectly tailored jacket. Once you try it on and begin to act with confidence, you’ll start to notice that it looks good on you. Sometimes in order to let go of limiting beliefs holding us back, we have to act opposite to how we feel. So when we feel like a phony, we act like someone who has mastery.
2) Reevaluate How You Define Success
Success means something different to everyone. Sure there might be a general sense of success but it varies more than we give it credit. You need to decide how YOU define success. If you let Society define success for you, you might not measure up. Or if you do, at what cost did you “succeed.” Did achieving success take its toll on your relationships? Your health? Is that really worth it? To save yourself the headache literally and figuratively, really think about the meaning you ascribe to the word success. Imposter syndrome feeds off of the desire to be “successful” and is fueled by the fear of not measuring up to the expectations of how to obtain that success. So when you define success on your own terms, you’ll notice that you’re no longer letting Imposter Syndrome have its grip on you and your self-worth.
3) Start With The Little Things
A lot of times with imposter syndrome, we’re psyching ourselves out. Thinking too big, thinking like you need to hit the ground running, thinking like you need to be successful with all of it. Whatever “it” is. The best way to rectify this is by focusing on the little things. That helps take the edge off. While experiencing the little things in the moment, they don’t feel high-stakes. That’s a good thing. It means they’re less daunting. However, it doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Added up over time they amount to something quite significant. An easy example of this is online and in-person interactions you have with your team at work. These conversations might not look like much, but having successful social interactions will help you get to where you want to go. Focus on creating strong rapport, listening well, successfully getting a point across, making someone feel heads. These are the little things, but they make or break communication. Look at it this way. If communication is a foundation to our success at work, then we should take great care to communicate effectively. But when you treat each social interaction as an individual event, it’s far less social-anxiety-inducing. Starting small, and knocking it out of the park with these social interactions will help you face your fears of feeling less-than. You’ll even start to shake away that feeling when “fraud” starts to creep up.
So there you have it, three strategies to overcome imposter syndrome at work. You probably notice that these can also be implemented in your personal life as well. To recap, we want to behave the way that we want to feel so essentially we’re telling our brain what to feel and not the other way around. Secondly, we want to reevaluate how we define success at work and in life. Instead of borrowing Society’s definition of success we’re allowing ourselves to decide what success looks like to us. Everyone will have different views on that. And lastly, find success in the little things. When you set out to seek success in the social interactions you have, putting a smile on someone’s face, listening to them with your undivided attention, doing someone a favor, and so on, you’re setting up your relationships for success. And we know that creating strong rapport is a foundation of solid communication. You probably know at this point how important effective communication is in business and in life. So don’t overlook the success you have in your social interactions. Overtime, these small things add up to something most significant and can truly impact your career.
Imposter syndrome is something that can be beaten. It’s mindset followed by action. Believe it, feel it, become it.
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