Article provided by Susie Ramroop, Mindset Coach and Speaker
This is a question that one day I would like to say yes to!
Unfortunately, until I can get access to everyone on the planet, I think we might have a way to go yet.
Despite a catalogue of successes over your career, there are likely to be times when you can’t quite believe the position you are in. You are expecting someone to knock on the door and say they made a dreadful mistake by giving you the opportunity; and in the meantime, you sit in fear, waiting for that to happen.
I am often asked if I think men also suffer from imposter syndrome, and it is a resounding yes. In every talk I give on the subject, and I give many, I always have men in the audience, even at women’s conferences. They are always in the minority, however. It does prove that men experience it too, and not all are super confident beings who apply for jobs even if they don’t tick all the boxes.
In my experience of choosing to work with more women than men on their personal leadership, I have come to the conclusion that women take much more responsibility than men, often too much. Taking on things that perhaps aren’t yours to take can leave you feeling resentful. Looking at it logically though, it doesn’t stack up – you weren’t asked to take it on, you took it out of guilt, and now you’re upset about that. I’ve done it too! We do it because we are desperately looking for chances to prove we are good enough.
Our over responsibility as women, has us believe that if there are problems in our team, then it is because of us, and yet when the team is doing well, it was all them. We don’t accept the praise, but we are willing to take the blame. Compare this with men who (generally), believe the problem they are experiencing is external to themselves. It’s a result of the way the business is working, or the environment they are in.
Women are more active in seeking answers – we want to know why something happened, and so when an explanation like imposter syndrome comes along, we are more willing to own the label than men would be. We’re also more likely to go to a bar after work and compare notes with a colleague who immediately says, “yes I have that too”. Meanwhile, the men have moved on…
Even those who appear confident, arrogant even, aren’t exempt from feeling inadequate. There isn’t a person on the planet you knows everything and has experienced everything. So, self-doubt will always exist.
Imposter syndrome creates this soundtrack in our heads that is constantly on repeat. Every time we do something well, we tell ourselves it wasn’t that great, or it was a fluke, which instead of fuelling us for next time, makes us more fearful that we will have to work even harder to prove ourselves.
But here’s the thing. When we get opportunities, we get them because of who we are, not what we are doing. If we are trying to be someone we’re not to compensate for the inadequacies we think we have, we are actually setting ourselves up to fail. This act is not only unsustainable, but it’s not actually helping you – instead it consumes all your energy and limits your results.
Much better to gain total clarity on who you are and what is important to you, so you can operate from there. You can’t do this if you believe who you are isn’t good enough. And ironically, operating from that place is not going to produce your best work or your greatest relationships.
Here are four steps you can take to stop imposter syndrome in its tracks.
Decide not to own it
When other people say they have it, listen and tell them these steps. Do not empathise or agree with them. You will be doing yourself and them a favour in the long run.
Start accepting praise
Replace the space created by 1. with positivity. Start saying “thank you” when someone praises you or remarks on your outfit. Don’t dilute it with any other words, just simple gratitude. You will teach that person and yourself that you value who you are.
Change how you talk to yourself
If I played back to you what was in your head you would think I was really cruel, so why are you tolerating it from yourself? Whether it is you or someone else who is being critical, it will impact your confidence equally. Be encouraging and talk to yourself like you would your best friend.
Create a list of all the things people come to you for
This is where your superpowers lie. They are the things you take for granted, but the things that allow you to make a bigger impact. Ignoring this is disrespecting where others place their value in you.
The world needs you, so stop wasting your time on owning things that don’t help you progress and start making a difference with the things you can do with your eyes closed. Allow other people to help you do the rest – let them exercise their superpowers!
Clearly we are a little way from eliminating imposter syndrome completely, but following these steps is the positive contribution that you can make. If you meet someone who is more bought into inadequacy than they are progress, share this with them.
Let’s pour the energy that we previously poured into imposter syndrome into energising its eradication!