At one point or another, most of us have felt like an impostor in different areas of our lives. Imposter syndrome can be defined as a sense of feeling inadequate and fearful that others will discover that we are not as competent as they believe us to be. It can lead to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, preventing us from achieving our goals and pursuing our dreams.
But what if I told you that not knowing is actually your greatest strength? That being intimidated by the unknown should not stop you from pushing forward but, instead, inspire you to find out more and do things differently? In this blog post, I'll explain why recognizing imposter syndrome is essential for achieving success and provide tips on how to overcome it so that you can move forward with confidence.
Firstly, let's address why it's important to recognize imposter syndrome in the first place. All too often we feel like we are less than capable due to comparing ourselves with others who appear much more knowledgeable or successful than we are. This kind of comparison only serves to reinforce these negative thoughts rather than helping us see our true potential. Additionally, talking about our feelings surrounding imposter syndrome with friends and family can help to reduce its effects as it takes away some of the pressure by sharing your concerns with someone who understands and cares.
Once we've recognized that these feelings exist, we must then focus on ways of overcoming them for good. The key here lies in adopting a mindset focused on self-compassion; accepting and embracing our own shortcomings whilst also recognizing our strengths will help us become better equipped for the challenges ahead. Furthermore, being prepared for setbacks along the way is essential; expecting mistakes rather than perfection gives us greater resilience when faced with adversity which will ultimately pave the way for longer-term success in whatever venture we embark upon.
"Imposters don't think they're imposters"
I'd like to share a piece of advice given by my close friend - 'Imposters don't think that they're imposters'. Though this may seem counterintuitive at first glance, it's actually incredibly valuable insight; believing in ourselves despite any doubts or fears creates a strong foundation from which all future achievements will be based upon. With this attitude in mind then there really is no limit to what can be achieved!
Quick story time for some context
In 2019 I set out to create something new, something that I couldn't find online. I wanted to connect with individuals who were like me, who were looking for what's next. In a world of so many, I felt quite lonely. I knew I wanted something else, I just didn't quite know what it was? So, I set out to do something about it. I started a network called Connected Assistants. After starting this, I was flooded with incoming messages. There were more like me! After some time, I started speaking at events and conferences. I met the most incredible humans who I have the honor of calling friends and confidants.
After more time passed, I figured that I found what I wanted to do next... So I did something. Something rather mad upon reflection. With no backup plan, no savings and no -get-out-of-jail-free-card, I woke in the summer of 2019, told my husband that I needed more and he simply looked at me and said 'I'm with you, I'll ride this ride with you, let's do it. Go for whatever your heart tells you to'. (Yes, I've totally won the husband lottery.) I quit my job, my full time, incredible Senior Executive Assistant job! *gasp* to pursue an all-together different path.
On the outside I was uber confident, I was now a business owner! An equal to all the incredible Executives I supported throughout my career, but inside, holy hell, I was scared to my very core. Imposter syndrome told me that I don't have what it takes to make this thing work. Imposter syndrome told me that I wasn't good enough. I put that little voice aside for a moment, and instead used it to flip the relentless conversation that was going on in my head into a motivator. When that voice told me 'C'mon, Meg, You don't have the makings of a company Director', I said, 'Perhaps not yet, but let me draw upon my experience of being around so very many of them over the years and see how they handled themselves.'. When that little voice told me 'Meg, you don't have the makings of business development in you', I simply replied with, 'Perhaps, not yet, but let me have a dig into how the kickass Sales Directors did it when I worked at previous roles.'. Whatever this ulterior-nasty-Meg told me, I flipped it around with trying to prove to myself rather than anyone else that I could do it. I set up a business company and within one week of setting up the extension of CA I had four signed clients. Take that, Nasty Meg 💪
What did I learn?
Acknowledge your feelings
The first step to dealing with imposter syndrome is to simply acknowledge your feelings. It can be easy to try to bottle up your emotions and pretend like everything is okay, give off that confident vibe, but this will only make things worse in the long run. If you're feeling anxious or down about your abilities, it's important to allow yourself to feel those emotions and work through them in a healthy way. Like kicking the little voice's ass.
Talk to someone you trust
If you're struggling with imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. This could be a friend, family member, therapist even, or anyone else who you feel comfortable talking to. Talking about your imposter syndrome can help you to better understand your thoughts and emotions and may help you to feel more in control of the situation.
Identify your triggers
One of the best ways to deal with imposter syndrome is to identify your triggers. What are the situations or circumstances that tend to make you feel more anxious or down about yourself? Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to avoid them or put a plan in place for how to deal with them if they do come up.
Challenge your negative thoughts
A big part of dealing with imposter syndrome is challenging your negative thoughts. When you find yourself thinking things like "I'm not good enough," "I don't deserve this," or "I'm going to fail," stop and ask yourself if there's any evidence to support those thoughts. In most cases, there won't be, and realizing that can help you to start pushing those thoughts out of your mind.
'Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.' - Sara Blakely
Set realistic goals
One way to combat imposter syndrome is to set realistic goals for yourself. Rather than setting lofty goals that you're not sure you can reach, focus on setting smaller goals that you know you can accomplish. Achieving these goals will help you to build confidence in yourself and may help you to start seeing yourself in a more positive light. Now, I didn't believe in 'vision boards' I thought them to be fluffy... But a friend of mine convinced me otherwise so I set out to ask myself some questions... What was my income goal, what did I enjoy most, why did I want to do this thing. The power of a vision board was literally perspective changing and helped set realistic incremental goals.
Celebrate your accomplishments
It's also important to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. When you accomplish something, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and really savor the feeling of success. This will help you to remember that you are capable of achieving great things and may help boost your confidence next time you're facing a challenge.
In summary, understanding why recognizing imposter syndrome is important helps us combat its effects enabling us succeed in anything we choose to pursue by focusing on what makes us unique rather than intimidated by what we don't know. By being kinder towards ourselves through practicing self-compassion alongside developing resilience when faced with setbacks, we position ourselves perfectly for achieving everything that we set out to do whilst also learning valuable lessons along the way - an invaluable combination! So next time you start doubting yourself remember: Imposters don't think that they're imposters - take each challenge head-on and make sure you give yourself credit where credit's due; recognise your accomplishments!
In addition to my incredible friends reminder that 'Imposters don't think they're imposters', another simple, yet effective line from Sara Blakely to keep in mind is 'Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.'
You got this, and whatever else is thrown your way!
I'd love to hear from you about what's front of mind for you.
See you online, you incredible human