Imposter syndrome is a common psychological phenomenon in which you feel that you’re the only person in the group who doesn’t have it together. You feel you don’t deserve the good things that have come your way. And the more others recognize your achievements, the more you feel like a fake. You’re basically always looking over your shoulder and waiting to be called out as a fraud.
In my research as an executive leadership coach, I have found that 99 percent of all high-achieving individual suffer from some degree of imposter syndrome—that means you and I and many of the people we know all suffer from this syndrome. So how do we escape the trap of the imposter syndrome? It’s largely a matter of five simple steps:
1. Recognize that the syndrome exists. The first thing you have to do is recognize that imposter syndrome actually exists. With acknowledgement comes awareness and with awareness comes the power to manage your own thoughts. Remember, it’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not that keeps you from success. Feeling like an impostor at times is, for many of us, a natural side effect of learning the ropes and gaining expertise.
2. Acknowledge your capabilities. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we don’t know that we forget we’re actually more capable and more competent than we think. Our skills are strengths that can take us wherever we go through whatever we do. We just have to acknowledge them, own them and allow them to carry us when we feel insecure and filled with self-doubt.
3. Be proud of your accomplishments. Take ownership of your accomplishments—each and every one qualifies you to own your success. Take your accomplishments and truly experience them, learn from them, absorb as much as you can from them. Prepare yourself for your own greatness by keeping your mind conditioned to accomplish more. To own your accomplishments with pride is the one of the bravest and best things you can do when you’re feeling insecure or doubtful.
4. Remember that perfection isn’t real. Recognize that the perfection doesn’t exist— problems will arise and you’ll make mistakes. It’s not perfection but doing your best in your challenges that gives you the confidence you need to feel assured in your achievements. When you expect perfection, you tend to overlook your own strengths. Those who try to appear perfect will eventually mess up, the confident will feel insecure and the informed will second-guess themselves. That’s the nature of an imperfect life.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others. One of the greatest accomplishments in life is learning to resist comparing yourself to others, because that’s a war you can never win. There always will be someone who is smarter, better or even more successful, but that shouldn’t be your concern. The true measure of success comes within yourself. How do you measure up against who you are and what you want to do?
At the end of the day, we must learn to value ourselves, which means we must tell ourselves that we are good enough, smart enough, capable enough. And if we have to learn something new we will, because what we do in life ultimately comes out of who we believe we are.
Lead from within: Our confidence comes from doing what we do best. The only thing that can bring us down is allowing our own insecurities to keep us stuck.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStock Photos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
14. Aug, 2018
In 2014, at an event in Aspen, Indra Nooyi did something few women in her position have done. She spoke, with extraordinary candour, about the struggle of balancing her family life with her job as CEO and chairman of one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies.
14. Aug, 2018
I found this post to be really interesting and it is something that I can see getting worse as time goes on. In this world, we tend to see highly curated visions of people on their Instagrams and their Facebook pages where it is easy to look and think that not only do my peers ‘have it together’, but it is incredibly easy to compare yourself to these enhanced personas. I would say that having someone in your corner helping to remind you of your true capabilities, your skills, and your accomplishments can be wildly helpful. My wife has filled that role for me for the last 12 years and I am so incredibly thankful to have someone like her that I can talk to about these sorts of issues. Not only does she help me overcome these feelings but she does an excellent job of game planning with me to prepare me for the next day, allowing me to feel like I have it more together. Finding a good support system is something I would say is also incredibly important to overcoming the imposter syndrome.
15. Aug, 2018
Hi Lolly! Great point on the imposter syndrome, this is definitely a white elephant in the room for many. I think that many people, including myself face the feeling of not being put together enough. Acknowledging your capabilites is vital to making yourself feel good enough. While some people may be better at other things than you, you have skills and capabilities they don’t. Having people to talk to and a good support system is key to feeling good enough and as good as other people.
16. Aug, 2018
The imposter syndrome, exists within everyone, my research shows that 99% of successful individuals suffer from this syndrome, they may not admit it, but they are plagued by it. Thanks for visiting my site and commenting Hannah. Great to meet you, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight.
16. Aug, 2018
Brandon, Having someone in your corner is key and knowing how your self doubt can take over all the competence and confidence you have, is just as important, because in my business, as a leadership executive coach, I spend my time, coaching my clients how to leverage the imposter that resides within them (and frankly within all of us) Thank you for your insight and thoughtful comment. It is so nice to meet you. Lolly
04. Nov, 2018
Interesting, I’ve never knew of the Impostor Syndrome.
Going through the points, I found the 1st one to be the most difficult for me, while the other four points were normal. I’m 53 now, and doubt I’ll ever live without it 🙂