Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome

If you think you are the only one plagued by the Impostor Syndrome, let me assure you that you are not alone. It plagues the best of us, myself included. 

You may be in a leadership role in which you are exposed to scrutiny and held accountable as an executive.  Or you may be in a role as team leader, manager, entrepreneur, or consultant where you have to communicate clearly and influence others. Or you may simply find yourself standing in front of an audience in a leadership capacity delivering an important presentation.

Suddenly you find yourself doubting your abilities and questioning the validity of your purpose. And just as you thought you had it under control, the Impostor Syndrome rears its ugly head and derails you. 

As a coach, I’d like to share some of the most frequent Impostor Syndrome inner chatter examples that I’ve culled from clients over the past few years:

“My unique perspective/voice doesn’t count here, I shouldn’t really speak up, people are judging me, I’m not really up to this challenge, I’m not a good leader/communicator, others are better than me, etc.…” (Feel free to add yours!)

As you notice, the focus of this inner chatter is on ‘I’ –  I’m not good, people are judging me, my flaws, my shortcomings, they’re expecting this from me…”.  All that thought energy is heavily focused inward, oppressing us, making us feel small, stuck, deflated, disoriented. 

And before we know it, we’ve gone down the rabbit hole, forgotten why we’re here, and lost sight of our purpose.

So what if instead of going down that rabbit hole of the Impostor, we could allow ourselves, at that moment, to feel regally expansive and turn our energy outward, away from our small self? In other words, take a conscious risk and pivot our attention towards the people and audiences we serve.

Imagine if we could think of that moment as an opportunity. An opportunity to share,  to learn, to transform, to exchange, to inspire and to listen.

I share this because it’s all about claiming your place – with generous authority. 

Leaders don’t need to know everything. They need to have a vision of what could be and be able to communicate it with clarity and confidence so that others are inspired to participate in the journey. 

Leadership is about being authentic, committed and unapologetic. 

I myself have been plagued by the Impostor Syndrome because I didn’t have the right certification, the right experience, the right style.  But who cares?  Why not leverage what we have to offer instead?

So, relax.  Breathe.  Remind yourself of what your role is and anchor deeply into your purpose. After all, there’s a reason why you are here at this particular moment in time. 

Turn your attention away from yourself, and make it about your team, your client, your organization, the people you serve.

And if I may conclude with something a client said once – “Life’s too short to be taken so seriously.” 

Down with the Impostor Syndrome. Claim your authentic voice so that we may all benefit from it.