An irrational fear of mine had always been disappointing someone with my work. The way that manifested for me was that I would rather work my butt off for free than charge for my services. When writing my first and second book I would tell myself, ‘There is no way anyone will want to read anything I have to say, especially in a book, I mean… Come on.’ So I stalled in writing my second book for two years.
In life and business, I constantly second guessed myself and wouldn’t speak up for fear of sounding completely ignorant. Yes, I have accomplished some things, but in my mind they were nothing noteworthy, and any day I would be found as a fraud. In my mind, I was never good enough, never pretty enough, never smart enough.
However, I was comforted to discover as I dove deeper into this subject that I am NOT alone, and to all my sisters out there that are suffering from this fake false attack, you are definitely not alone!
I mean, when you are in the company of such greats as Maya Angelou, Meryl Streep, Tina Fey, and Sheryl Sanberg, who have all felt this way, it ain’t all that bad. The biggest myth about this syndrome is that it only affects women, or at least affects us more than men. In my opinion, the difference is that men have a particular gene, (I think it’s the macho gene), that overrides their feelings of being an impostor and empowers them to muscle through and just do it. For women, I believe we have so much pressure, (mostly self-imposed), to do it ALL right: be the perfect wife, the best mother, totally kick butt at business, in addition to volunteer like Mother Teresa! We don’t cut ourselves any slack!
If you are unclear about what the Impostor Syndrome is, it’s that feeling that you don’t belong, that any day they will figure out you are a fraud and will find someone much better to replace you. This is something that you have to conquer over and over again, so below I have seven tools to help you overcome the IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, so you are able to work your way past it and build confidence in yourself.
BEAUTY. Yes, I said beauty. Author Thomas Troward says, “Beauty represents the most supreme living quality of thought, it is the glorious overflowing of the fullness of love, which indicates the presence of infinite reserves of power behind it.” In short… Beauty = Power. All the great philosophers, thinkers, inventors, artists, and creators in history, including Aristotle, da Vinci, and Michael Angelo, all regarded beauty as the main source from which everything else flowed. I see beauty as the essence, the very nature of an infinite, all powerful, omnipotent God poured out in you. But, if you cannot connect your beauty to the inexhaustible well of power resident on the inside of you, then you will always doubt and devalue yourself, and success will be a struggle.
NEGATIVE SELF TALK. We all know we should NOT engage in this particular vice, but it is there with us all the time. The key is to recognize it the minute those doubts and fears of not being qualified enough, or good enough, or talented enough start creeping in. The point is you are there, and because you are there, you are enough, and you are exactly who is needed to get that job done!
TAGS. Your TAGS are your Talents, Assets, Gifts and Skills. Too many times we do not take inventory of our TAGS, or we devalue exactly what those TAGS are. I am sure if you took a survey of people around you and asked them what they think your talents and skills are, you would be surprised at some of the things they came up with. I had that happen to me when I was asked to speak to a women’s group about time management. I laughed hysterically when they asked me to present that topic because in my mind I was horrible at time management; yet, the leader of the organization saw me as someone who gets things done very efficiently and effectively. Suddenly “Time Management” became a part of my list of skills, whether I felt like I did a good job with it or not.
ASSESSMENTS. Assessments are a great way to evaluate yourself objectively. I gained so much confidence in who I was and what my strengths were when I started taking different types of assessments. The one that I believed was the biggest eye opener for me was the Kolbe A assessment, which measures your Conative strengths. It is how you are naturally wired to operate and act instinctively to any given situation. Your Conative strength will never change. When I had a better understanding of that, and I began to trust my instincts more based on how I am naturally wired to act and react, I had so much more fun in what I did and did it with so much more confidence because I was no longer trying to fit into what I thought others wanted from me. Rather, I did it in the way that was natural for me and saw tremendous success.
OVERCOMING FAILURES. The greatest response to failures is bouncing back from them quickly and using them to springboard you to the next level of success. The most successful people in history have suffered catastrophic failures early in their careers but have been able use the failure as a catalyst too much greater success. There is not a single successful person that has not tasted the agony of defeat. So why are you any different? Ok, this seems like a no brainer, but we sometimes get bogged down with our own high expectations for ourselves that nothing but perfection will do, and when we cannot achieve it we are deflated. I have learned to take the lessons learned from the “failure” and really apply them to my next attempt. Yes, there will be a next time for sure because I am not quitting. When you look at professional athletes, they have such short memories when it comes to failure because they get right back up and go for it with even more gusto. Yes, I said gusto!
REFRAME. Reframing negative experiences goes hand in hand with overcoming failures. Reframing is a little different because in order to reframe, you first have to invite the idea that this experience was meant to be. You have to accept that what happened was exactly what needed to happen, and then find the lesson within that negative experience. Let’s say you didn’t get the promotion you wanted. Suddenly you start to believe, “see I knew I wasn’t qualified enough for that job” or, “they always promote the guys before they would put a woman in that role.” Reframing would first assume you weren’t meant to have that job, then look at all the ways you grew in the process preceding, and then in the aftermath what it forced you to have to learn or do. Find the growth in it and the lessons learned and you will be so much stronger and ready for the next promotion.
ALTER EGO. I saved this one for last because it really is my favorite tool. This is a technique professional athletes and performers use to get in the “zone.” It will allow you to immediately change your state and level up in a way you normally would not consider for your everyday mode of action. What is an alter ego? Think of it as your best and most trusted friend that is actually living inside of you. This is the persona you get to create thinking without limits who or how you would be if you were totally awesome! This is a tool you pull out when you need to be fierce, strong, and confident like Beyoncé does when she is on stage and her alter ego Sasha Fierce steals the show. You have full control pulling together all the elements of your alter ego, and when that impostor syndrome feeling starts to creep in, pull your most awesome self who has no doubts or insecurities out and let her take the wheel!
No matter what stage of your business or life you are in, whether COO of a major company with thousands of employees or a new hire that just wants to do a good job, the effect of the Impostor Syndrome can sneak in at any moment rocking you back on your heels and putting you on the defensive and before you know it, you are entertaining thoughts of self-doubt. At those moments, it is critical to pull out one or all of these tools to immediately pull you through and restore confidence and allow you to go kick butt!!!