Have you ever experienced the needles of self-doubt, confidence crash, not feeling intelligent, being a fraud?
Were you frightened by a thought that your incompetence will be unmasked and revealed?
If yes, Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
Impostor syndrome is common among successful people, mostly us, women.
Psychologists found that the higher we ascend on our career ladder, the higher becomes the necessity to get better, smarter, ensure perfection, prove ourselves.
The more we demand of ourselves, the more we are pressured to achieve and the more we get consumed by insecurities and self-doubt with even smallest set backs.
This experience is often accompanied by anxiety and feeling inadequate. And we fight this in silence.
The confidence-tantalizing self-criticism has been my frequent visitor too. And I started researching.
The first good news was that we are not alone!
In her book "The Charisma Myth" Olivia Fox Cabane speaks about this phenomenon, describing that every year she asks the incoming class at Stanford Business School "How many of you feel that you are the one mistake that the admission committee made?" And every year, about two-thirds of the recently admitted students to one of the most prestigious universities in the world raise their hands.
Many famous and accomplished women suffer from impostor syndrome.
Here are the quotes from some of them:
"The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: "I'am a fraud! Oh God, they are on to me! I'm a fraud!" So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud." ~ Tina Fey
"I still think that people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I'm really not very good. It's all been a big sham."~ Michelle Pfeifer
"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
"Sometimes I wake up in the morning going off to a shoot, and I think, I can't do this. I'm a fraud." ~Kate Winslett
The second good news is that there are some good tips for salvation that proved to be helpful to me, so far. For example:
1. Acknowledge your own success.
We do not "internalize our success" thinking that we had a lucky chance that we took, and that this chance was actually not earned or deserved by us. We need to acknowledge and own the fact that we played a very significant role in our achievements and that we fully own the rights to our success. That it is OURS.
2. Set realistic standards.
Set achievable and measurable goals. Calculate your available resources, actions, map your steps. Avoid setting yourself for possible failure and possibly predicted self-disappointment.
3. Striving for perfection can be sabotaging.
Perfectionism is often confused with striving for excellence. It is a roadblock for productivity. While one can lead to a great experience and possibly an amazing result, the other can incur a psychological wound. Do your very best. Accept this as your only standard.
4. Continue learning, always.
We grow as we learn. We become better. We become different. And we try new things. Challenge yourself. Getting out of our comfort zone builds confidence and reduces self -doubt.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is not a competition.
Comparisons are subjective and biased. Others too have their own insecurities and challenges. There will always be someone more successful. Do not assume that they arrived where they are easily and effortlessly. Enjoy and respect your journey.
6. Concentrate on adding value.
The more value we add to our clients, followers, customers, listeners, observers, the higher the sense of inner gratification and satisfaction. Adding value has a value to others, and to us. Keep adding value.
7. Be true to your ambitions.
Do not allow your doubts dictate your actions. Allow your curiosity to lead you up, open new doors, research new ways. Take new opportunities. Keep ascending your ladder! .
8. ....and finally: BE KIND TO YOURSELF!
Accept and appreciate compliments. Believe people when they praise you. Catch negative thoughts, stop berating yourself. Practice positivity and self love. YOU DESERVE IT!
Sending a message that we can do it!
Posted on February 12, 2017 in From the Founder's desk by Jane Katkova