The more I work with women, the more I encounter Imposter Syndrome. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s where you feel like a fraud and that you will be found out at any time. It’s that feeling that you’re not worthy of your successes, that really you’re just lucky, so you end up working twice as hard as you need to so that you won’t be unmasked. It’s not that men don’t experience it, but high-achieving women are more likely to feel it and be inhibited by it. As a result many lack confidence in work.
What’s it stopping you from doing?
Whether it’s not speaking up in a meeting, or not going for the job we want because we don’t believe we are 100% qualified. The good news is, if it’s a recognised syndrome, you can feel some consolation over the fact that you are not alone! In fact, research has shown that the more competent you are, the more likely you are to feel fraudulent and lack confidence in work.
Not only is it comforting to know that you’re not alone. You are in fact in great company. Famous sufferers include: Maya Angelou, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Sheryl Sandberg.
Our brains, the protector??!!
Our brains have this annoying way of trying to keep us safe, which is helpful at times. But this can include perceiving something outside our comfort zone as a threat. We are still wired like we were in the olden days when we needed to be on high alert for life or death situations…like being eaten by a bear. Not so helpful when we suffer anxiety because we are about to do something as life-threatening as a presentation!
I’ll openly admit I’m not immune. I wasn’t in the corporate world, and when running your own business it can be a powerful feeling. You’re not just comparing yourself to those in your company, but competitors globally. I had a while when I believed all work I got was purely down to luck, nothing to do with my ability to help women transform their careers or success.
That can be hard to handle if you don’t know what’s going on, and what to do about it. Why that’s a great thing is it means you have a plethora of weapons to keep it in check.
Weapons to tame your gremlins…and improve confidence in work
I’m going to share my top 3 here:
1. Journaling daily on what you did well
This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. One of the biggest reasons we feel like imposters is because we struggle to own our successes. It isn’t good fortune or voodoo, we need to start recognising the part we have played in our achievements. When you take time out of your day every day to write down 3 things you did well, you are practising that. As a result you will be reviewing your day with a different set of lenses in your glasses. Over time you will rewire your brain to become more aware of the things you’re good at. This will make you much more confident in them, and more confident in work in general.
2. Visualising success
I’m on a bit of a visualising soap box lately because it is so powerful. My Rise and Shine programme can testify to this. Our brains are both magnificent and stupid at the same time. Sometimes the stupid bit works against us (as described above), but thankfully, at times it also works in our favour. Our brains don’t know the difference between the real and imagined, so when we visualise doing something confidently and successfully, the brain treats that the same way as if we did it. By visualising it then, we can create a comfort factor, prime our brains to be successful, and also to work out what success looks like…which means providing the steps to take us there. Repeated visualisations make it clearer and clearer. You’ll be amazed at what your brain can come up with.
3. The feel the fear and do it anyway method
Sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge. I’ve 2 things to make it a bit easier for you. The first is to let you know that nerves and excitement have the same feeling. So instead of telling yourself you’re nervous, tell yourself that you’re excited to [identify an opportunity]. The second thing is to consider ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ usually it isn’t world-ending stuff, so get over it. Think about all the times you’ve pushed yourself outside your comfort zone and succeeded. And if it makes you feel better, make a plan for the worst case scenario. Your brain loves a plan so will focus on that instead of stressing you out!
If you like what you’ve seen here, then great, please leave a comment and share with your friends! If you want more great tips regarding confidence in work, I’m going to be sharing them all week in my FREE Facebook group (GenWomen Career Winners), please join up and I’ll look forward to seeing you there.