“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out.'” – Maya Angelou
Starting to succeed in business? Climbing the corporate ladder? Riding the waves of a big professional achievement?
In any of those positions, you’d expect you’d feel on top of the world, right?
But anyone who’s gotten further than they expected to go will be familiar with that nagging feeling in your gut that whispers…
I’m not good enough for this.
I don’t know what I’m doing, and sooner or later everyone’s going to find out.
Why on earth do these people look up to me?
I’m a fraud!
Thankfully, this doesn’t actually reflect reality-unless you’re a con artist, in which case, you should feel like a fraud! These thoughts are part and parcel of what’s come to be known as Imposter Syndrome.
This is a common phenomenon that happens to people as they gain success. If you’re feeling like your talents, skills and knowledge aren’t really as valid as other people think, you’re in good company. Actresses Tina Fey, Emma Watson, and Kate Winslet have made known just how much Imposter Syndrome plays with their mind, and even the chief of the World Health Organization said, “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I'm an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I'm so much aware of all the things I don't know.”
So, now you know you’re not going crazy, and these self-sabotaging thoughts are a normal part of success, how can you overcome them? Here are our four top tips to gain your confidence back:
Don’t try to boost your self-image up too much
Sometimes Imposter Syndrome pops up as a ‘regulator’ for our normal thoughts about ourselves. If we puff up our self-image too much, it’s only natural that we’ll get thoughts to pull us down, to keep us balanced.
Tina Fey says, “You vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: 'I'm a fraud! Oh God, they're on to me! I'm a fraud!'”
It’s only natural for success to boost up how you feel about yourself. Just don’t let it get to your head too much, or otherwise, your self-image will come crashing down sooner or later.
Focus on service, and providing value
If you think about it, all types of success are based on providing value for others. If you’re a successful musician, you’re creating music for people to enjoy. If you’re a top CEO or running your own business, you’re providing a service or product people want.
By focusing on your ‘people’, whether that’s customers, fans, or even employees, you take the focus off yourself and onto your mission and purpose. Aim to do the absolute best you can for each of the people that depend on you, and you’ll find that this shift in perspective helps to dull down the niggling thoughts that make you feel like a fraud.
Keep a ‘worthwhile file.’
Following on from the last point, there’s a good chance that you’ve reached a level of success because you’ve inspired and helped people. Ever get an awesome customer review? A fantastic reference? A heartfelt letter saying how much you’ve helped someone?
Every time some genuine praise for work you’ve done comes your way, screenshot it or file it away. When Imposter Syndrome’s telling you that your work isn’t worthwhile, or you’re just a big old fraud, pull out your file to remind yourself that what you do is valuable.
Network with similar people
Try to find a group of people that are in a similar position to you. It’s best these aren’t people who you do business with on a regular basis or are in your industry but are doing similar things to you in other spheres. A business mastermind group or similar is ideal.
They’ll be struggling with the same Imposter Syndrome thoughts, and you’ll be able to gain strength and insight from each other. Everyone does better when they can express their feelings and get support from people who are going through the same thing.
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