8 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
Updated: Nov 1, 2018
As a consultant, I am paid to know the answers. Though, that is not always the case. Sometimes I need to figure things out, and other times I don’t know. For the longest time, this drove intense, and almost paralyzing feelings of imposter syndrome.
Here are 8 techniques that I used to get over it. They worked for me, and they will work for you too!
1. ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE HAD A ROLE IN YOUR SUCCESS
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you are there as a result of your hard work.
Were you given opportunities that others were not?
Given the hand you were dealt, you are still solely responsible for how that hand is played. If you authentically feel as though you have arrived due to circumstance, own your position and pay it forward by creating an opportunity for others.
2. FOCUS ON DELIVERING VALUE
Stop focusing on yourself, and start focusing on others. Instead of worrying about what others think of you, what you have done, or how you have achieved what you have, focus on delivering value to those around you.
3. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
In my line of work, I have often felt inferior due to where I received my education. I am surrounded by people with Ivy League degrees and pedigree that my simple hillbilly upbringing cannot begin to comprehend.
One day, I realized something. It didn’t matter. In fact, not only had I been promoted ahead of many of these folks, but the impact I was having on clients was more substantial. The University listed on my degree was irrelevant because I was delivering value.
Much the same as the Jones’ don’t care what car you drive; your colleagues rarely measure what you perceive to be your negatives. If anything, they likely wish they were more like you!
A simple closing thought on this topic: “..what other people think of you is none of your business.”
4. BEING WRONG DOES NOT MAKE YOU A FRAUD
You know what you know, and you don’t see what you don’t know, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Often as an expert the words “..I don’t know..” can do more to build your credibility than anything.
They make you real.
They make human.
They make you authentic (so don’t be afraid to use them, especially when coupled with “.. let us find out together.”)
5. DON'T HOLD BACK
Walking around full of bad vibes is more contagious than the office crud, and it rubs off on everyone.
It also means that you can’t be there for the people who depend on you.
We all have doubts, but we each need to move beyond them to put ourselves in the best position possible to give our best to the world (and helps us move forward as well.)
6. REALIZE THAT NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING
Most projects fail, most startups bomb and even those that are successful look dramatically different than they did during inception.
Because nobody knows exactly what they’re doing.
Life is about failing/learning, failing/learning, until we eventually get lucky.
The same way we can gain great strength from admitting what we don’t know, we can also gain strength and insight by acknowledging that we don’t know what we’re doing. Instead of being the people with all of the answers, you open yourself to iterative learning. When this sort of behavior is exhibited and encouraged, the limits of a teams success are near boundless.
7. REALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT A CONSTANT
We all have good days and bad days. We are learning new things all the time. The person who we are changes constantly. What an amazing idea! Each decision we make in any given moment has the power to change our future self completely. Embrace the opportunity to make yourself the be you that you can be, and also embrace that no matter who you are today, you have the power to change who you become.
"There is as much difference between us and ourselves as there is between us and others."
– Michel de Montaigne
8. NOBODY BELONGS HERE MORE THAN YOU DO
We spend so much time feeling as though we don’t deserve to be in the game, that we often forget to play it. When you break things down to their most basic form, we are all the same: slowly decaying sacks of meat waiting for their expiration.
We are all going to die; we all take different paths to get there. One of the most human qualities that we should all strive to embrace is acceptance. It is not about being an imposter, or not; it is about accepting yourself and other for exactly who they are.
If we can all admit that nobody belongs here more than any more or less than anyone else, then we can all focus on what truly matters: making connections with people in meaningful ways.