When was the last time you lacked self-confidence, doubted your accomplishments, or simply felt inadequate? Or maybe you caught yourself partaking in negative self-talk, or dwelling on your past mistakes?
If your answer to any of those was sometime recently, then you’re not alone. Unfortunately, most people experience any one or more of these signs at some point in their life; signs which all point to what is known as imposter syndrome or the imposter phenomenon.
According to The Journal of Behavioral Science, imposter syndrome is the persistent feeling that you’re not as good as other people think you are, and has nothing to do with skill level or competence, but instead the impossibly high standards you’ve set for yourself.
These feelings commonly arise in regards to an individual’s career, with some suffering a constant internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.
And even people with the most impressive resumes can fall victim to imposter syndrome. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has famously gone on record to admit that she still believes one day people will realise she isn’t worthy of her accomplishments and just got lucky. Fueled by anxiety and shame, the syndrome impacts an estimated global 70 per cent of people who experience it at some point in life.
As more high-profile people speak up about their own feelings of inadequacy in the face of soaring success, more are beginning to realise the impact of this phenomenon. What’s more, it can be especially damaging in the workplace and can affect men and women differently.
Despite evidence of success, women experiencing this paralysing self-doubt are more likely to believe they are intellectual frauds. This level of stress – waiting to be found out by peers – can lead to anxiety, burnout and increased unhappiness among everyone from entrepreneurs to employees moving up the ladder.
Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at Instant Offices shares her four top tips on how you can beat impostor syndrome at work and in your career.
How to beat imposter syndrome at work
Even though so many people have experienced impostor syndrome, the good news is that it’s not a permanent condition but rather a reaction to a set of circumstances, unrealistic self-expectation and stress.
Here are some simple ways to turn that around:
1. Accept praise and know your worth
Don’t shy away from praise and compliments. Accept your achievements and if need be, write them down. When you try to talk yourself out of feeling confident in your role, all the proof is on paper. Knowing your worth means allowing your work to speak for itself and letting others see it too.
2. Stop thinking like an impostor
Learn to recognise self-defeating thought patterns and replace them with more positive affirmations. The only way to stop feeling like an imposter is to stop thinking of yourself as one.
3. Don’t seek perfection
Stop believing that if you don’t excel at every facet of your job that you’re a failure at all of it. Facing challenges and losses is a key part of growth, so recognise that you don’t have to be good at everything.
4. Know you are not alone
Impostor syndrome tends to be the domain of overachievers, while underachievers tend to internalise less when faced with failure. If you’re constantly worried about not being good enough, chances are you’re in good company – most successful people constantly over analyse themselves!
Know your worth
Speaking from experience, Jodie Harris, Head of Content and Digital PR at MediaVision said: “The feeling of thinking someone is going to come in and call you out on your experience, your achievements and put you in a league much lower than you are currently working at is very real. Impostor syndrome can happen at any time in your career.
“From being an intern to being in the boardroom, questioning your place at the table can be disruptive to your progress and your confidence. One piece of advice I always tell my teams and myself is that your career did not come by chance, and where you are now and where you aim to be is justified. Know your worth and have conviction with your career goals. Success isn’t a lottery ticket, it’s earnt.”
That’s advice we can all take on board!
This article was written by Laine Fullerton and originally published on A Girl In Progress.