Beat Imposter Syndrome like a Boss

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imposter syndrome
Doubting yourself at work? You might be your own worst enemy. Image by Unsplash.

If any of the thoughts below are going through your mind on any given day at work, then you’re one of many women who suffers from imposter syndrome.

I feel like a fraud.

I am nowhere as good as my co-workers think I am.

Surely they can’t ignore that I’m not as qualified as they first believed I was.

I am not smart enough to work here.

Imposter Syndrome in Women

On average, two-thirds of working women in the UK struggle with these feeling of not being the right person for the job. While it’s a universal sentiment, professional women tend to experience it more often than men. Although men are not immune to it, they are 18 percent less likely to experience imposter syndrome than their female UK counterparts.

It’s hard to say what makes a woman feels this way about her performance in the workplace. Sometimes, something as benign as negative feedback can affect how you perceive yourself and rewire your brain to only listen to criticism. More often than not, the business jargon within a company can dramatically affect an individual’s sense of confidence and achievement. Indeed, when more and more companies create their own internal vocabulary, a newcomer is doomed to struggle to make sense out of the simplest conversations. In turn, one can feel as if they didn’t belong there.

But whatever the underlying cause, you cannot continue to give your imposter syndrome the upper hand. It’s time to fight back and regain your professional assurance in the workplace.

It’s the Result of Low Self-Confidence

The first and primary reason why many women fall victim to the negativity of imposter syndrome is that they lack the necessary self-confidence to shake off pessimistic thoughts. There will always be some difficulties in your everyday work. But it doesn’t mean that you are not good enough to tackle them.

Building up your self-confidence can act as a shield the next time you hear criticism – because criticisms happen, no matter how good your work is. Imposter syndrome builds on your self-doubt. You’re not worried that you’re not good enough; instead, you’re worried that others think you are. Therefore, go back to what your mother used to tell you when you were a kid: It doesn’t matter what others think about you; the only thing that matters is what you think.

If you choose to ignore how others affect you, you can give yourself the room and energy you need for self-improvements. Become as good as you want to be! Identify the triggers that hold your self-confidence back to help you create the best path towards a better you.

You can Learn New Skills

More often than not, the feeling of not being in the right place arises for a valid reason. Whether you compare yourself to your coworkers or come across complex concepts, you might realize that some of the people around you are highly skilled. Maybe you’ve tried to remind yourself that your employer hired you because they saw true potential in you, but it didn’t work.

In this case, you likely still feel that your competences are not a match for the rest of the team. The advantage of skills, however, is that they are learnable. If you’ve been promoted to a management role, take a look at the University of Redland’s MBA, which offers an online program about the business fundamentals of decisions, knowledge, and leadership, for instance. Gaining the best skills for your situation can make a significant difference in your day-to-day work.

You don’t Need Toxic People in Your Life

The workplace is a jungle where some employees are preys, and others are predators. Like in all communities, the predator might choose to use a prey for their own benefits, from career advancement to navigating the troubled waters of internal politics. They can affect your mood, career, and well-being. Alone, you can’t beat a predator.

Consequently, you need to get rid of the toxic work relationships that drag you down. To do so, you have to build valuable and mutually profitable relationships. You can recruit friends and kindred spirits in the office who believe in your ideas. It’s hard work to find people who will support your vision if you’ve got nothing to offer in exchange. But you need to think of it as a mutual transaction. As they help you to progress, you need to bring them value too. For instance, if you’re looking for backers for your business ideas, craft an offer that will fit with their career needs.

rock your job
Overcome and be all you can be, lady boss! Emotional support can help you. Photo via Unsplash.

Get Emotional Support from a Place of Trust

Starting your own company involves a roller coaster of emotions. It’s both exciting and terrifying. You’ll have days where you feel overwhelmed about what there is left to do, and you wonder if you’re the right person for the job.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Your imposter syndrome says no. But that’s okay because you don’t have to listen to what it says. Instead, rely on the moral and emotional support of a co-founder. Your co-founder understands your vision and passion. Together you are stronger in tough times than separately. More importantly, together you can divide responsibility, complement one another’s expertise, and make good decisions. Ultimately, if you can share your professional fears with someone who is going through the same experience, you can conquer them together.

Feeling Lost? Build Your Roadmap to Success

How do entrepreneurs do always to know the best direction for their business? If you feel like a failure because you’re not sure where to go or what to do next, here’s a little nugget of truth for you: Most entrepreneurs don’t get where they are on their own. They hire a business coach to help them. Indeed, a coach ensures that you make the most of strategic planning and collaborative approaches to building your company.

In other words, you can wave goodbye to doubts, uncertainty, and confusion. Working closely with a professional coach can help you to clarify your vision and bring your opportunity into focus so that you always know what the next step should be. You can also learn strategies to overcome office politics.

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

Growing your professional career can feel like a lonely journey, especially for leaders. And isolation can often create a feeling of not belonging. And ta-da, hello imposter syndrome, nice to see you again. The trigger here is your isolation. As an entrepreneur, you can rely on organizations to help you to network and meet with same-minded people.

For example, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, established in 1987, lets you discuss challenges and find a personal mentor. There’s also the Young Entrepreneur Council, which is an invitation-only organization for entrepreneurs up to age 40. The YEC provides support through discounts, offline events, and an editorial team. Another option is Vistage, an organization that’s all about leadership and CEO coaching. Providing services around the world, you might learn some invaluable tips from them!

Making Mistakes is All about Learning

You will make or have made mistakes in your career.

There. I’ve said it.

Even leaders have the right to get things wrong. Your vulnerability is what lets you connect with others in the most authentic and real way. People don’t like you because you’re perfect; they like you because you sometimes are not. The moment you accept that being your best self is not the same thing as being perfect, you are ready to make yourself and your employees better human beings.

You’re not perfect. You don’t always get things right. You don’t always know the best strategy or partner from the start. But none of these statements mean that you don’t belong. On the contrary, accepting who you are, addressing weaknesses as best possible, and improving yourself are essential to crush imposter syndrome.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I definitely suffered this syndrome when working as a Credit Manager for a Steel Company… I always thought I’d be ‘found out’. And yet, when attending monthly credit meetings with twenty four other companies in the steel/aluminium arena I was, more often than not, the one with the most favourable ‘numbers’..
    It came down to lack of self esteem/a poor self image, and not being true to myself. That’s when I realised I wasn’t cut out for that world. I changed careers/pathway, and have never looked back!

  2. This post rings so true to me and is something I battle with not only in my professional life but personal life as well. Great post, your advice is in line with what I am currently trying to reduce these fears of inability.

  3. Great work Christy,

    I believe that toxic people are real energy vampires. in our life and we need to erase them for good.Sometimes they are the members of our family, and that is not an easy task 🙂

  4. Ugh definitely the low self-esteem thing. I can totally see that. It can arise from toxic environments for sure. I think for women, there’s this stigma growing up, as well, that you have to be humble and sweet. When a woman acts in full confidence, she’s viewed as brazen–which can be a good thing, but obviously she’s viewed in the negative version of brazen. Great post!

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