For most of my professional career, I have worked in the high-tech industry with predominantly male leadership. I continue to be appreciative of the mentorship I’ve received over the years, but I would often follow that with self-comparison. They seemed so confident and self-assured while I felt like I was faking my way through my career. For a long time, it caused me to become risk-averse for fear of looking stupid. I thought for sure these feelings would go away as I climbed the corporate ladder but to my dismay, those feelings only intensified.
Then, one day, several years ago, I read a message from an employee who needed advice for overcoming “imposter syndrome.” I had never heard of this affliction and was intrigued. As I googled, I learned many high-achieving individuals doubt their own competence and feel like they are essentially an imposter in their own lives. It filled me with relief to learn my feelings had a name and other people also felt it.
After receiving coaching to help me overcome my imposter syndrome, I wanted to use my new-found knowledge to help others. I researched, studied, then began coaching, and it has been a privilege to watch others conquer this debilitating condition.
If this is something you are experiencing as well, you can overcome it with the right mindset. Here are 5 adjustments you can begin making today:
Create Self-confidence – While we are not born with confidence, everyone can build it! Self-confidence is an emotion driven by our thoughts. So, if we become aware of our thoughts and figure out what is driving negative emotions, we have the power to change it. We can change thoughts about ourselves, our career, our relationships, our lives. Fear will crop up. That’s natural. It’s the primitive part of our brains trying to protect us. With practice we can rise above those natural, fear-based thoughts and CREATE more self-confidence.
Stop waiting for the perfect time - It’s common to put off uncomfortable tasks thinking that it’s not the “right time.” That’s when we should ask ourselves “why?” What are we waiting for? What if we decided to just DO IT? Taking action amid discomfort is the epitome of self-confidence. Knowing the move could cause fear or anxiety and doing it anyway. If discomfort is the worst part, we’ve all survived that in the past. And the more we push through discomfort, the easier it gets. Waiting for the right time is all in our heads.
You must fail. It’s not only important, it’s necessary – This one is tough because we’ve all been taught in one way or another that failure is something to be avoided. However, my time around software engineers has taught me we all need to fail to become better. They call it, “failing fast.” Failures, or “bugs” are a natural part of the testing process when developing software. It allows them to improve what’s not working in the code. The same is true for life’s challenges. Michael Jordan put it best, saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed repeatedly in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Don’t WORRY about what others might think of you – It’s human nature to wonder what others think about us. But it’s the worrying that keeps us stuck because there’s nothing we can do about it. What others think about you is none of your business, just as what you think of others is not their business. I’ve realized over time that I cannot control other’s thoughts and feelings, I can only control how I show up in life. Now, that doesn’t give us license to be a jerk, we still have the responsibility to show up in the world respectfully. Just remember, worrying is unnecessary.
Take time to celebrate – Whether it’s mowing the lawn, speaking to your community, or coordinating an event, we MUST celebrate our victories. Self-celebration is not to be confused with arrogance. Arrogance is self-importance that comes from fear and insecurity. We should honor ourselves as we would a loved one who has accomplished something great. Celebrate your successes then keep moving forward.
Creating self-confidence and conquering imposter syndrome is a journey. Start yours now and choose courage along the way. YOU GOT THIS!
WRITTEN BYLori Pugh