Impostor 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% of all high-achieving individuals suffer from some degree of Impostor 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 Impostor 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 Impostor 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.
99% of all high-achieving individual suffer from some degree of Impostor Syndrome
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.
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