I used to call Imposter Syndrome, the doubt gremlins, ugly and unforgiving, they would creep up at anytime and usually when I least needed them, which for a large chunk of my career was almost every day.
I would spend hours preparing for meetings and still feel like the most underprepared person in the room (even know my boss barely knew what the meeting was about.) I would constantly look at my co-workers or people on the same level as me and feel like they were in a completely different league. Yes I have the uni degree, yes I had been doing the job for a while, but hadn’t everyone.
Then one day I was listening to the Being Boss podcast, an American podcast presented by two female entrepreneurs who explored the idea of Imposter Syndrome. I had never heard of the term before but I reckon if you’d opened the online dictionary to check the definition, there would be a handy little link to my Facebook profile.
Here are the official symptoms, taken from Mindtools.com.
Feelings of inadequacy and frequent self-doubt.
Thoughts of “I’m not worthy,” or “I don’t deserve this.”
Worrying that you can’t live up to others’ expectations.
Focusing on your mistakes rather than on your achievements.
Exhibiting perfectionist tendencies.
Thinking that your job is so easy that anyone could do it.
Thinking that your talents and strengths are common or unremarkable.
Believing that what you do is never enough.
Believing that if you were to start over, you wouldn’t have the luck, talent or skills to replicate your current success.
For me, I felt unworthy, unconfident and full of self-doubt, that I couldn’t do a job I’d been perfectly doing for over six years. But how to overcome it?
Without sounding like the seven steps, the first step was realising I had a problem and almost checking myself, everytime those doubt gremlins came to town. That conscious effort of saying to myself this is imposter syndrome, you’re making yourself feel like this put up a much needed defence system and gave me a small bit of comfort.
The second thing I did was to start talking about it more, I was so surprised at how many people, especially CEO’s and some of the best business people I’d ever worked with had felt like this at sometime and it gave me the knowledge and support that if these people could handle it, so could I.
Then my favourite, I started celebrating. I had been so busy for years taking promotion after promotion, that I never took the time to look at my career, stop for a second and be proud. I started saying thank you to people for compliments instead of doing the standard British defence and when I did something good, I wasn’t afraid to take the credit. (But only if I deserved it, one of my biggest values is giving my staff the credit they deserve.)
Lastly, I accepted that I’m never going to be perfect. No piece of work is ever going to be perfect and it’s not the end of the world.
So if you think you may be suffering from imposter syndrome, then please take note…
You are worthy. You are talented. You deserve to be where you are.