Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and when you looked around the room, you thought “any minute now, they’re all going to realise that I’m a fraud and not good enough to be here”? If you have, then you’re not alone. It’s called the Imposter Syndrome and it’s particularly prevalent in high-achieving people.
The Imposter Syndrome describes individuals who are marked by an inability to recognise their accomplishments and abilities and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was developed in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. Despite evidence of success, people with the Imposter Syndrome are convinced they don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved. They often think that their success is due to faking it, luck, being in the right place at the right time, or the result of others thinking they are better than what they really are.
That nagging fear of “being exposed” as not as intelligent, talented or deserving as everyone thinks, is a common phenomenon. Researchers believe that up to 70% of people have suffered from it at some point. Even Academy Award winning actress Kate Winslet has said: "I'd wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud."
So what can you do about it? Here’s how to overcome it:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
Comparisons are subjective and rarely helpful. In this age of social media, comparing ourselves to others is constantly at our fingertips. That person you’re comparing yourself to could be having the same challenges as you are but you certainly can’t tell from their social profile. Controlling your use of social media is an important step to ensure you are not getting caught up in endless scrolling and comparing.
2. Focus on the value of effort, not on trying to be perfect
You haven’t got to where you are now without a lot of hard work. So you need to remind yourself of the value of effort, rather than focussing on trying to be perfect. The fact is, no one is perfect, so why are you trying to achieve perfection? Your value is in your hard work, your individuality and your experience.
3. Pursue your goals
Don’t let your fear of failure get in the way of achieving your goals. Recognise thoughts as just thoughts, not facts. Acknowledge that worry just leads to more worry and serves no effective purpose and move forward aligned to your values and goals.
You’ve achieved what you have so far because of who you are and the effort you have undertaken and no one else can own that. So embrace your individuality and put a stop to trying to achieve perfection. Just knowing that you are experiencing the Imposter Syndrome is the first step to breaking through it. Now take the next step and put down your phone to be present and remind yourself of just how valuable you are.
If this feels very familiar and you’re ready to smash through fear and hesitation to achieve your goals, contact us to find out about our Mind Strength Leadership Coaching programs.