Seriously, the impostor syndrome is real for anyone embarking on something new. It’s even defined in the dictionary as follows:
Impostor Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
Of course, people feel this way, especially when some are coached to follow the “Fake it until you make it!” advice. I totally fall into traps of doubt and fear that lead me to believe I am an Impostor, you know when it shows up most? When I am growing into the next version of myself. When I am challenging myself to get into new arenas to see if they fit the life I truly desire for myself. But especially when I start to compare myself to others that I admire, and feel less than, I want to call myself a fraud.
Isn’t it amazing how much we can doubt our own abilities and dreams based on comparing ourselves? What a great way to rob yourself of the life you really want right?
I am accomplished and worthy of having any seat at the table I choose to sit at, and as I embark on asking for a seat, or a request to play in the arenas I admire, fear creeps in and I start to doubt my accomplishments are good enough compared to others playing there already. Sad, but true.
I recently got accepted into the For the Love of Money Mastermind by Chris Harder, and immediately was excited that I received a seat at the table! Then, I also realized a spiral of doubt and feeling less than creeping in because I started to meet the amazing people in the group, and wondered what I can bring to the table. Am I an impostor? I know I qualified for this seat, but do I really deserve? I know your don't believe me, but it's true. It's real. It's me.
It's a learning embodied in me that I constantly have to remind myself that I have tools to break through this doubt.
Comparison is the thief of joy. - Theodore Roosevelt
We are all taught at a young age to compare ourselves to others, to evaluate how great we are. It starts in school with the grading system, or sports teams we played in, and moves into our work life with performance reviews and thresholds that determine if we will get a raise.
We all have doubts, we are all scared, and we all know that once we are on the other side of that fear, we finally believe 100% what is possible. Every single person that has gone before me in a field of work I am interested in was exactly where I am right now, doubting themselves. The only advantage they have over me at this moment in time of doubt, is that they pushed forward. The best lesson I learned on how to squash fear was to get into action and learn what is true to me in order to up-level in all areas of my life.
A pioneer doesn’t know that what they are going after is going to be successful or not, they just know they are putting it out there and the successful definition comes afterwards. If you talk to an over-achiever, success is not even something they would say about themselves, it’s something that others label the person, or their accomplishments, to categorize where they are in their path based on comparison to others. The drive to succeed isn’t why they go into uncharted territories in the first place, what tends to drive an achiever is the fear of what happens if they don’t do it.
To me, being an impostor is trying to live up to a hype that is not true to you. I think when we live in the stretch zone of where we are today, and moving towards the arena we dream of playing in, we start to doubt what is possible because our ground is not solid yet, we have not learned enough to know what feels real. So how do we manage our doubts in the meantime?
Since Impostor Syndrome is is something that I work through on the regular, I thought I would share how I push through it and come back to the reality of my situation, and also lean on others when I need it.
Here is a tool to use to breakthrough doubt and fear when you feel the impostor syndrome creeping up on me:
Grab a piece of paper and draw four columns on it.
Step 1 - in Column A: Write down what you fear the most when it comes to going after what you really want.
Step 2 - in Column B: Next to each statement above, Ask yourself if the fear is true. Is it true to you? Does this fear exist? Put a simple Yes Or No.
Step 3 - in Column C: If there is a Yes in the column B, write down what is the worst that could happen if this fear you wrote down in Column A comes true. The absolute worst.
Step 4 - in Column D: Answer the question against any of the statements that have a Yes, “Is this is worthwhile reason why you don’t go after what you really want?” Yes/No
If is't not worthwhile, then you don't really want it, so let it go and move on. If the answer is Yes, it is worth it, then let's figure out how to get into action.
Grab another piece of paper and answer these questions:
For any of the fears that are still true from Exercise 1 above, what can you do, learn, or ask for help on to turn this fear into an action?
For Example: Fear Statement: I fear the hiring manager will not think I am smart enough based on how I answer my interview questions, so I am not going to apply for the job.
Possible Action: Work with a career counselor/coach to see how I can make sure I am putting my best foot forward in front of the interviewers.
Possible Action: Look up the qualifications for the job and come up with examples on where I have done this type of work before and have that prepared for the interview.
Possible Action: Practice interview questions that might be asked with a friend or colleague and get feedback on how I can have a stronger presence in the interview.
Now next to each action, write a by-when date, so you set a target on when you will squash this fear with action. Believe me, if you master this step you will decrease the time between having an idea, goal, something you want and the time it takes to achieve it.
I challenge you to try this exercise the next time fear comes up that makes you say to yourself, “Who am I to have this in my life?” or “Who am I to be considered for that role?” or “Who am I to land that client?” or “Who am I to start my own business?”
See what happens when you get clarity on what is really stopping you, and squash fear and doubt in its tracks. No impostors here. Here to help you shine when you need it, reach out.
Oh, and if you want to see more of my reality, every day activities, follow my InstaStory. It's where you know for sure, I am not an impostor. ;)