Forget imposter syndrome, you deserve your success!

What Exactly Is Imposter Syndrome?

Do the phrases “I don’t deserve this” or “Everyone here is so much smarter than me, and I should not be here” sound familiar to you?

Ever caught yourself thinking you’re not as talented as everyone else in the room or that you shouldn’t ask any questions because that might show how little you know?

If so, you likely have a case of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome (or what’s being defined as a phenomenon rather than a syndrome) is our inability to believe our successes are deserved or legitimately earned due to our skills and efforts. Many times imposter syndrome creeps in when we are going through a transition and trying a new role, activity, job, schooling, etc.

According to studies housed at the National Library of Medicine, up to 82 percent of people experience imposter phenomenon. Those statistics are higher among people with underrepresented identities, feeling like they don’t belong.

If you are experiencing imposter phenomenon, watch this video for 3 tips on how to work through it. And, remember, this is a common feeling as you’re growing.

The unfortunate part is if these imposter feelings continue, they can lead to anxiety, depression, unfulfilling careers, broken relationships and career burnout. Because imposter syndrome is not a medical diagnosis, there is no treatment for people experiencing it. Instead, it’s something you need to work on and overcome, realizing this is normal for people to feel. You are certainly not alone. We are all growing, and you need to believe you wouldn’t be in the role you’re in if you weren’t perfect for it.

Having a little imposter phenomenon can actually be a good thing, too. We live in a competitive world, and it’s natural to wonder how we measure up to others. Having a little self-doubt can push us to do more, learn more and grow more. There is a difference between acknowledging we don’t know everything and have room for growth, and causing harm by thinking we don’t measure up and shouldn’t bother reaching for bigger and better because we aren’t worthy of it.

How does imposter phenomenon impact us as leaders?

As leaders, all eyes are on us to guide other people, departments, organizations or businesses. That can be a lot of pressure, especially if you’re feeling like maybe your skills and abilities aren’t up to the task. How can we help someone else who’s questioning their qualifications when we are questioning our own?

Whether you’re CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a teenager on your first day of work, we can all question our experiences and achievements, leading to a lack of confidence. This is nothing new, regardless of age, gender, position, company or opportunity. Stop comparing yourself to others, and instead compare yourself to past you. Realize that you know more today than you did yesterday, and tomorrow, you will know even more.

Every step forward is bringing you closer to success and that feeling that you’ve got this. The quicker you embrace this, the quicker you can lead others to achieve their feelings of success.

Document and celebrate your wins

There are several ways to combat imposter phenomenon, and here are a few to consider.

  1. Let go of your inner critic and perfectionism: You are not alone in questioning your value. Many, many people have experienced it at one point or another. You need to let go of the negativity and know that you are not perfect, but you are successful and will continue to grow in your capabilities and strengths.
  2. Keep a “wins” journal: We’ve talked in the past about setting goals and celebrating your achievements. The same can be said for overcoming Imposter phenomenon. Keep a journal documenting your achievements and contributions wherever you’re feeling like an imposter. Go back through your journal every few months and see your achievements – whether they are big or small – and realize that you are worthy of the position you are in. Your successes are there in black and white.
  3. Work with a coach that specializes in imposter syndrome: Can’t seem to convince yourself you’re good enough? Find someone who can help you see it. Work with a coach who can help you with documenting your successes and growth, someone who can help you recognize your value.
  4. Say “yes” to new opportunities that help you grow: Don’t let imposter phenomenon hold you back from growth – whether it’s personal or professional growth. If you continue to question your skills or value, you may pass up some great opportunities for growth. You could also perform worse at your job or never climb the professional ladder to bigger and better opportunities.

If you’re feeling like you’ve stepped into a role you might not deserve or are struggling to see why you’re there, let’s talk about it. Imposter phenomenon is not uncommon, and you are definitely not alone in your feelings. Let’s talk through it so it doesn’t hold you back. Remember, you are worthy of all your successes. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve to relish each and every success you’ve achieved along the way.