Are You An Imposter?

A client recently told me that he felt that he was an imposter on his job. Even though he is highly regarded, delivers consistent results and receives feedback that his work is always “amazing” he still feels like he is sometimes a complete and utter fraud and that one day soon, someone is going to catch him in this incredible lie.

He was somewhat relieved when I told him that there is a name for this feeling which is usually referred to as “The Imposter Syndrome”. While there is no real medical or psychological condition known as this, it is characterized by feelings of self doubt and the concern that others will find out that you are vastly limited in what you know or can do.

According to the renowned psychologist Judith Beck, there may be a several reasons for this including:

  • People don’t see their strengths as their own.
  • May attribute their success to luck rather than hard work.
  • They never celebrate their accomplishments but are always onto “What’s next?”
  • They discount their accomplishments assuming that anyone can do what they do and perhaps even better.
  • They compare themselves to others and may pick out the most successful people in their field.

Overcoming the imposter feelings can be challenging at times and it may take a little practice to acknowledge your good work. Here are a couple of tips to try out…

  1. Before you set out on a project, set the expectation of what you will achieve and what reward you will experience after you complete the project. “When I __________(complete or achieve) this project__________, I’ll celebrate by  ( relaxing with my family, letting my boss know, buying a new outfit).
  2. Keep notes of what people tell you you’ve done well. I collect testimonials from clients and companies I work with and reference back to these to make sure they got what they need and that I did a good job for them.
  3. Recognize that we all live in the real world of “I don’t know what is going to happen next!” Embrace the life as learning theater and be prepared for the ups and downs and in fairness, if you are going to beat yourself up about a negative, then you have to acknowledge yourself for a positive.
  4. Know what you do best and continue to grow in that area. Becoming an expert at work, in your volunteer activities or with a hobby will help you become recognized for your “thought leadership” and as more people seek you out, you will find more recognition from others and yourself.
  5. When you are called on to present at work, take charge of a new project or lead a team in creating a lean work process, make sure you know what you are doing so that you don’t have to fake it!

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