Does Impostor Syndrome And Self-Doubt Derail Your Career?
[Incl. The Empress Has No Clothes Book Review]
Have you ever felt like a fraud?
You know the feeling I’m talking about. You land a big promotion that you’ve worked your tail off for, but instead of patting yourself on the back for a job well done, you think “If they only knew the REAL me, they’d be firing me, not promoting me.”
Folks, I’m talking about impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome, which was first brought to mainstream attention in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Chance, PhD and Suzanne Imes, PhD, is a term used to describe an inability to internalize and identify with accomplishments and the persistent and overwhelming fear of being exposed as a fraud.
People who struggle with impostor syndrome are typically accomplished, successful, and driven individuals, but no matter how many accomplishments they rack up or external validation they get from their peers, they are unable to let go of their belief they’re in some way unworthy of their success. Whenever they accomplish something, they chalk it up to luck or being in the right place at the right time, not their own intelligence, competence, or hard work.
Or, in other words, impostor syndrome is the inability to enjoy your success because you don’t feel like you deserve it.
Impostor syndrome isn’t something that successful people talk about often, but as you’ll find out, it’s something that many people struggle with – and most of the times, it’s the people you’d least expect.
But impostor syndrome isn’t a life sentence. There are ways to silence that doubtful voice in your head and own your success. In this summary, you’ll learn:
- Some of the tell-tale symptoms of impostor syndrome;
- Why women tend to struggle even harder with impostor syndrome; and
- How to finally beat impostor syndrome and enjoy the success you’ve rightfully earned.
Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Got Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is a tricky beast. The people who struggle the most are the people you’d least expect. The CEOs, the scholars, the executives—people struggling with impostor syndrome tend to be ambitious, accomplished, and driven by success. On the surface, they appear to have everything going for them; they’re smart, ambitious, successful.
And they DO have everything going for them, but here’s the catch-22: no matter how successful they are on the outside, their impostor syndrome keeps them from being able to feel it on the inside. They have an inability to internalize and identify with their success. And because they can’t identify with their success, they’re afraid that it can be taken away from them at any time. They feel like they don’t deserve a seat at the table and at any moment, someone’s going to notice they’re out of their league and send them back to the kid’s table where they belong.
So, what are some common symptoms of someone struggling with impostor syndrome?
Because of this constant fear of being discovered, people who impostor syndrome tend to be risk-averse. They work hard, but they play it safe; they’re afraid if they put themselves out there too much, people will realize they don’t know what they’re doing.
They Compare Themselves To Others
They’re also chronic comparers. Impostor syndrome, at its core, is a kind of social anxiety, and people who struggle with it constantly feel like they’re falling behind their peers. When someone else gets a promotion, the person with impostor syndrome tends to take it as a personal blow, almost as if their peers’ success diminishes their own.
They Have A Hard Time Being Authentic
People with impostor syndrome have a hard time being true to themselves. They’re afraid to rock the boat and expose themselves, so they say what people want them to say and often go against their true feelings.
They’re Afraid To Fail
Failure – especially public failure – is someone struggling with impostor syndrome’s number one fear. They feel like a public failure will just prove to everyone how unqualified they are, so they tend to keep their ambitions a secret until success is a sure thing.
They Don’t Enjoy Their Success
This one’s the trademark symptom of impostor syndrome; no matter how successful they are, a person with impostor syndrome can’t enjoy it. They feel like their success is totally undeserved, so instead of enjoying the fruits of their labor, they just feel more fear and anxiety around someone figuring out they’re not actually as smart and talented as they appear.
Impostor Syndrome and Women
While impostor syndrome strikes all sorts of successful people, it has a tendency to hit women especially hard. There’s an (unfair) expectation of women to be everything for everyone; they’re expected to have it all, do it all, and be it all. And, of course, with a smile on their face!
It’s unfortunate that in 2017, women are still struggling to be viewed as equal, but it’s a fact; in the United States, a woman’s annual salary is still typically between 78 – 82% of their male counterpart’s. And because of this lack of equality, women feel like they have to work even harder to prove themselves, which just adds fuel to the impostor syndrome fire.
Because of this need to prove themselves, women with impostor syndrome will work harder than anyone else – often to the detriment of their health and personal life – in order to prove they belong. But no matter how hard they work and how much they accomplish, it’s just not enough to quiet the “I’m not worthy” voice that’s taken up residence in their heads.
So, What Can We Do About Impostor Syndrome?
The good news about impostor syndrome is that it CAN be conquered. If you’re struggling with feeling like a fraud – and want to take back your power and enjoy your success – these steps will help get you there:
- Talk about it. Impostor syndrome thrives in silence. Once you open up about your impostor syndrome to a trusted friend, colleague, or even a journal, you’ve taken the first step towards beating it.
- Get to know your impostor syndrome. When you feel like a fraud, ask yourself “What am I trying to prove? To whom? And why?” When you ask yourself these questions regularly, you’ll eventually realize that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
- If you find yourself overworked, ask yourself “does working this much make me feel like less of a fraud?” Often times, the answer isn’t more hard work. Instead of working until you can’t see straight, start to examine what would actually make you feel more worthy.
- Know your fear. Learn to differentiate between the natural stress that comes along with a promotion or more responsibility and the automatic response of your impostor syndrome.
- Keep a list of your accomplishments. When you find yourself feeling like a fraud, review all the ways you’ve succeeded.
- Next time someone compliments you, don’t brush it off. Fight the urge to dismiss it and instead, let it sink in. Metabolize external validation and use it to start internally validating yourself.
- Define what’s important to you, and then act accordingly. Own who you are and show up every day as your whole self. The more authentic you are, the less you’ll feel like an impostor.
The key message of the book “The Empress Has No Clothes”:
Impostor syndrome happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to get you down. With a little practice and patience, you can start to own your accomplishments and enjoy your success.
If you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, talk about it. Once you get it off your chest and realize you’re not alone, you can start to own your power and move past the impostor.
If you want learn how to alleviate impostor syndrome and learn how to perform in life and business with more confidence, composure and consistency click here to book a FREE Strategy Session with me personally.
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