A guest post by Jackie Williams a personal coach for women and expert on imposter syndrome.
How often do you avoid things at work just in case you’re caught out as not really knowing what you’re doing?
Or are you one of those people who agonises over every detail to make sure everything is just perfect? That way nobody will catch you out as being incompetent right?
Maybe you procrastinate because you don’t want to face the fact that you can’t really do this?
Even though you have so much experience and so many skills?
If so, imposter syndrome is likely to blame! And it is so common, especially in women!
So What is This Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a false belief that you are not really up to the job – despite a ton of evidence to the contrary. Evidence that our brains tend to discount! Annoying right?
It’s when you feel fearful about being caught out as not being good enough.
It’s when you attribute your past successes to luck or a fluke rather than to the skills and competence that you have.
I experienced this in every single corporate role I ever had!
Literally, every time I was promoted or moved companies, I thought, THIS will be the time I get caught out at not really knowing what I’m doing!
And guess what? It never happened!
Because I WAS good at my job and I had achieved success through skill and hard work.
But I only realised this after doing the mindset work with my own coach! Yes, even coaches need a coach!
For so many women, imposter syndrome keeps them held back.
Maybe they don’t speak up or share ideas in meetings at work.
Maybe they don’t put themselves forward for that promotion even though they know it would bring so much fulfilment for them.
Dr Valerie Young is an expert on imposter syndrome and she realised that people who experience imposter syndrome often have unrealistic views of what it means to be competent. She identified five ‘types’ of people who hold these unrealistic views.
Let’s explore the five types in more detail!
Number 1 – THE PERFECTIONIST
The perfectionist believes that things have to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. They think there is a right and wrong way to do something and often find it hard to delegate because of this.
This (false) belief means that they spend a LOT of time agonising over details, staying up late to work on something just to make sure that it is perfect.
Number 2 – THE NATURAL GENIUS
The Natural Genius believes that in order to be competent, they should be able to get things right on their first attempt. They really value innate ability and find it difficult to accept that they may need to learn and grow.
These people might give up pretty quickly if they can’t get it right straight away.
Number 3 – THE SOLOIST
These are the people who believe that they should be able to do everything by themselves.
They think that asking for help is a sign of weakness and just proves that they are not up to the job! These folks often procrastinate to avoid admitting defeat.
Number 4 – THE EXPERT
If imposter syndrome ever raises its ugly head with me, this is where it comes up!
Being a mindset coach doesn’t make me immune to these things. It just means I’m good at spotting them and challenging them!
The Expert believes that to be truly competent they should know everything. They are really uncomfortable if they don’t know the answer to something and believe that this proves they are a fraud.
These are the people who are always taking another course or reading another book to soak up more and more information so that they can eventually feel like they are good at what they do. Unfortunately, that feeling never comes!
Number 5 – THE SUPERWOMAN
This lady believes that she should be able to do everything perfectly but not just at work. She thinks that she should be able to be perfect in all areas of her life – working woman, mum, wife, daughter, friend.
She finds it hard to say no and consequently tends to be the one that experiences stress and burnout! No wonder!
So what can we DO about this pesky Imposter Syndrome?
The most important point to make here is that all of the five beliefs above are NOT REALISTIC! They are NOT TRUE!
The first step in any mindset change is becoming aware. Bringing into your conscious brain the fact that these beliefs are not real and certainly not helpful is your first step.
Once you can accept this, just start to notice when this unrealistic thinking crops up during your day. Remember just because you think something doesn’t make it true, so have some challenging questions at the ready!
Here are some examples that you could use:
- Is it true that things have to be 100% perfect every time?
- What proof do I have of that?
- Do I have to get it right on the first try or is failing just part of the learning journey?
- Do I really need to do it all or is accepting help a normal part of life?
- Do I need to know everything to be good at what I do? Where is the rule book that says this?
- Is it realistic to be all things to all people all of the time? Who says?
- What advice you would give a friend who thought that way?
The more you challenge your thinking around imposter syndrome the easier it gets!
If you’ve spent a long time dealing with imposter syndrome it can really knock your confidence. If you’d like a little more support to boost your confidence levels then my free worksheet – 6 Steps to Boost Confidence and Overcome Fear – could be just what you need! You can get your copy here.
Remember, you’ve totally got this!