What do Denzel Washington, Tiny Fey, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Maya Angelou and nearly 50% of all successful people have in common?
They feel like frauds.
It’s known as the imposter syndrome and it refers to the condition of not believing we are good enough … that we don’t belong … and that sooner or later people will find out.
Dr. Margaret Chen, head of the World Health Organization, stated “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe this about me? I’m so much more aware of all the things I don’t know.”
I’ve met so many people who are similarly affected, including many who attend my Career Domination classes. And these are people who are already very accomplished looking to further advance their careers.
The good news is that this condition can be overcome.
The five-step process I’ve seen work wonders is as follows:
- Recognize we are doing this to ourselves. The trigger is any negative comment, thought, or feeling regarding our abilities.
- Next, step outside of the situation and ask yourself: “Am I really looking at this objectively, or am I being my own worst enemy?” Consider asking a trusted friend or personal advisor how they would view the situation. Oftentimes, an outsider’s honest perspective isn’t loaded with as much attachment and judgment.
- Spend two minutes in a “victory” pose with a big smile on your face. The data is quite compelling on this activity – dramatically altering our body’s chemistry enabling us to greatly diminish the “negative voice” telling us we aren’t good enough and that we don’t belong. Amy Cuddy’s terrific TEDx talk discusses the details: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc
- Create a Positive Feedback folder in your email application. Anytime you receive a praising email, phone call, text message, or any other sort of communication – drop it in your PF folder. And when the imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, simply review this folder and watch how quickly all doubts disappear.
- Finally, check back in with yourself and confirm that you no longer feel like an imposter. Try rephrasing the original negative assertion into a more objective, truthful statement. For example, a limiting declaration such as “my projects are just okay … I’m not sure I should be recognized as a marketing expert” might become “clients tell me they are very happy with my work … I seem to be making an impact.”
By using a process like this, we begin to see how often we listen to and heed the divisive directives of the “imposter voice” – from which we can reframe and transform how we view ourselves, and our ability to better serve others.
To see the full article on this topic, see Anthony’s original post: Nearly 50% of Successful People Suffer from This.
Anthony is an investor, advisor, and board member for several companies in the Philadelphia region. His experiences building and running companies as well as cultivating talent frame his writings as an author. In his blog, Anthony’s Desk, he shares his experiences helping both young professionals and seasoned executives in their careers.