Many professionals experience what is widely known as “impostor syndrome” at least once during their careers. Comparing yourself to your peers and feeling inadequate can lead to paralyzing doubts, which can then have negative consequences on business operations.
To overcome this condition in the workplace, it’s important to develop self-confidence and confidence in your abilities. The sooner you can accept yourself for who you are, the easier it will be to reach your goals and lead your team towards their objectives, and in this way, celebrate the milestones you’ve achieved together along the way.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
This condition is loosely defined as doubting one’s personal abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving individuals who struggle to acknowledge their accomplishments.
To help you get there, I’m going to share my top suggestions on how professionals can combat impostor syndrome and take control of their careers.
Find a Mentor
Career development involves encountering new situations at different times. This is why identifying a good mentor who has gone through similar experiences can make a difference: they can offer you strategic insights, support, encouragement, constructive criticism, and act as a sounding board.
Most of the time, impostor syndrome is in our heads: the perfectionist within us is afraid of failure. The next time this monster appears, instead of following the negative path as many of us tend to do, think of a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and succeeded. What did you do and how did it make you feel?
We all have parts of ourselves that conflict with others. The part that feels inadequate will clash with the part that involves security. Instead of judging this human tendency as a flaw, turn it into a growth opportunity. Identify the positive intentions of the part trying to convince you that you’re not good enough. Learn how to befriend the challenging part.
Allow Others to Support You
Often, people suffering from impostor syndrome do so because they genuinely care about what they’re doing and the people who might be affected by their decisions. Asking your coworkers or leadership team for their input on how you’re doing is a way to break free from this counterproductive belief. Another way is to keep a list of the good things you’ve achieved and others’ feedback to read when you have doubts.
Building on the previous advice, keep a journal and reflect on one or two ways you succeeded yesterday: anything you did well or achieved. Then, write down some purposes of what you want to accomplish today. This helps you stay focused. You can also create a record of all the things you excelled at. This will start shaping how you see yourself.
Everyone can develop their confidence in many ways. Everyone can engage in external activities through professional groups, sports, nonprofit organizations, etc. However, by organizing, leading programs, projects, and events, forming teams, you can polish your leadership skills and gain confidence.
In today’s fast-paced workplace, it’s hard not to feel inadequate at times when there’s always something new to learn or a new set of skills to master. Digital technology and social media also make it easier than ever to compare our success with that of others, perpetuating a cycle of doubt.
While impostor syndrome comes with its fair share of challenges, it’s a sign that you have a team of very smart and motivated individuals. With a little effort, it’s possible to prevent this condition from undermining the confidence of high-potential individuals, especially if you take the lead from a place of vulnerability and model resilience.