Updated: May 29, 2019
Let's face it you are intelligent, committed, you worked hard to get where you are in your career... so why do you feel that you're about to be found out? You feel not good enough, intelligent enough, doing enough, achieving enough and so on.
You look around at colleagues and notice most of them have their act together, they look completely in control, nothing phases them, and there you are feeling like you're just about keeping it together.
So, is it true? Have you really got where you are through sheer luck, or fluke? Unlikely. The reality is there are a lot of people that feel just like this, Imposter Syndrome takes hold and they simply can't see their own achievements as something they deserve or have earned.
First termed by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, Imposter Syndrome still strikes in the workplace every day and it doesn't discriminate, male or female, young, old, and at every level of the organisation you will find it.
So how can you overcome imposter syndrome and stop that anxious feeling of being a fraud, or not good enough?
Firstly, it's about reframing. When we suffer from imposter syndrome, we focus on all the things that prove to us that we don't deserve to be in the position we are. Such as our past failures, times we couldn't respond to a question, times we felt the least experienced in the room, or a time when someone challenged our point of view... in our minds this is all evidence of us being a fraud.
If instead we focus each day on reminding ourselves of what we have achieved, what has gone well for us, who we have helped and what contribution we have made - we start to see that we are responsible for the positive achievements we have. It's not luck or fate, but our hard work and expertise (yes I mean you, you are an expert).
Secondly, get comfortable with being wrong and failing. Sounds simple but build this into your resilience armour and you'll be surprised at what used to feel shameful or something to hide from, actually becomes a powerful learning. We all fail, and we will all be wrong at some point, that's okay. What resilient people do best is learn from failure and mistakes and move on quickly, no dwelling, no repeatedly playing it over in your mind.
Finally, accept that you are not alone in feeling this way. The way you look at your colleagues believing they are superman/woman is most likely the same way they look at you. If they came to you and started to say they felt like they didn’t deserve to be in their role you would probably be highly surprised. So, remember that next time imposter syndrome starts to take hold. Talk to yourself the same way you would a valued colleague. Recognise your strengths, your contribution and that you are doing amazingly well to keep it all together in the eyes of others.