“Being proficient in your field is one aspect; the ability to excel in your work regardless of the environment is another; but imposter syndrome sets in when you lack confidence in the excellence of your work.“
Career journeys oftentimes take different turns, some of them planned, others unforeseen. The planned ones may involve meticulous planning for your ascension up a corporate ladder or participating in workshops and conferences to prepare for significant work responsibilities. On the other hand, unforeseen turns may result from unexpected opportunities, like a spontaneous call from someone who discovered your work on social media. This call could lead to job offers, freelance opportunities, or discussions about how your skills align with their ongoing projects.
Unexpected calls of this nature can catch you off guard, leaving uncertainties about the nature and scope of the work ahead. As you settle into the new role, upon resumption of the new job, you begin to think you are underqualified for the job. It becomes worse when you begin to achieve some form of success at the new job, and all you think of is how much time you have left before others discover you don’t know what you are talking about. This fear is called imposter syndrome.
Those grappling with imposter syndrome believe they are deceiving the world, attributing their accomplishments to luck or others’ errors in placing trust in them. Paradoxically, the more praise they receive, the greater the anxiety they experience.
Here are a few techniques you can use to fight the imposter syndrome
Acknowledge and Understand
Laura Newinski, KPMG’s U.S. Deputy Chair, and COO, spoke with Forbes’ Kathy Caprino on imposter syndrome in professional women. From the women, it was disclosed that 81% of the executive women surveyed believe they put more pressure on themselves not to fail than men do. “Nearly half said their feelings of self-doubt resulted from never expecting to reach the heights of success they’d achieved, and more than half have been afraid they won’t live up to expectations. The first step in conquering imposter syndrome is acknowledging its existence. Reflect on your accomplishments, skills, and the journey that led you to your current position. Understand that feelings of inadequacy are often unfounded and do not accurately reflect your capabilities. Embrace the fact that everyone experiences self-doubt at some point in their career.
Shift Your Perspective
A quote from J.R. Moehringer’s memoir The Tender Bar reads, “You must do everything that frightens you… Everything. I’m not talking about risking your life, but everything else. Think about fear; decide right now how you’re doing to deal with fear because fear is going to be the great issue of your life, I promise you.” Shifting your perspectives can be very helpful to help you fight imposter syndrome at work, and this can happen when you challenge negative thoughts by reframing them. Instead of fixating on perceived shortcomings, focus on your achievements and the positive feedback you’ve received. Recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of professional growth, and each challenge is an opportunity to learn and improve. Shifting your perspective can help build resilience and confidence.
Seek Support and Mentorship
Just like we all seek help when we face issues with our work accessories or need clarification concerning a company-wide email, the same principle applies to imposter syndrome. Ruchika Tulysan is the founder of inclusion strategy firm Candour and the author of Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work. In an article with the Business of Fashion, she says, “It is important to check in with other people who have [your] back and who could hold [you] accountable.
Maybe they will give me advice that there is this thing that I could do to up-level, but more often than not, the advice in those situations is: ‘We don’t see [what you are doing wrong].” The center of advice from most experts on this topic has always been to lean on your professional and personal network. Additionally, seek mentorship from individuals who have overcome similar challenges. Their guidance and encouragement can be instrumental in navigating imposter syndrome and achieving your full potential.
Imposter syndrome may be a formidable opponent, but with self-awareness, a positive mindset, and a supportive network, you can overcome its impact on your professional journey. By acknowledging your accomplishments, shifting your perspective, and seeking support, you’ll be better equipped to embrace your capabilities and thrive in your workplace.