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Sometimes, I dream that I must redo an exam because I failed it. I then realize that my engineering degree is not valid and that I have not been a real engineer for years.
One of my passions is facilitating team-building workshops to stimulate participants to get out of their comfort zone. I have shown thousands of participants how to experience a powerful dance, and I am still afraid to be exposed as a fake at times.
After being a professional coach for more than seven years, I still sometimes fear being exposed as fraudulent.
Also, I consistently write articles and blogs about my learnings that can benefit you. This is blog number 162, and I still fear the moment that someone will unmask me as a fraud.
Apparently, I am not the only one being afraid of being unmasked or exposed as a fake. Many professionals, men, and women, who are very successful, suffer from this syndrome. Nearly 70%* of people will experience at least once this phenomenon in their lives.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon or condition characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments. It is accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success. In simple words: you feel like a phony no matter what you have done.
Recognize the imposter syndrome
I can recognize the imposter syndrome when:
- I think it is just dumb luck that I have success
- I feel that I am not allowed to facilitate or coach
- I think that others are way better (writers) than me
- I fear being exposed as a fake, no matter how hard I’ve worked or studied
- I am sensitive to constructive criticism
- I blame myself for the smallest mistakes in my work
- I feel incompetent or unqualified
- I feel the urge to be successful in many (all) areas of my life.
Do you have these thoughts as well? Find below eight tips to manage imposter syndrome so that you can break through whatever is holding you back.
Worry is a fear. A worry causes imposter syndrome. Examples are the fear of criticism or utter failure, which discourages you from taking a big leap. Breathe, stay in the moment, and focus on what you can control (not on what you cannot). Worry keeps you in a fixed mindset. Read this article to change to a growth mindset.
Imagine the worst
This tip seems contractive to the one above, but it can help you overcome imposter syndrome very well.
Imagine what could happen when someone exposes you as a fraud. Will people (your client or colleagues) get upset? Will you lose the contract or your job? Imagine how you will mend your mistakes and react to people. This exercise will help you prepare mentally when it seems that you are unmasked. You will react differently, more prepared when such a situation arises because you have experienced this situation in your mind already.
Be honest (and laugh)
A month ago, a prospective client asked me to coach a team on a specific issue. Because I coach individuals, I said I have never done that, and we would have to see how it goes with the techniques I suggested. Also, I referred a colleague for this job. Ultimately the client chose her (and she sent me flowers to thank me).
In many other situations, the client chose me when I said that I was not sure if it would work. Of course, I intended to do my best and be there for my client. You can use humor to be sincere and honest. Saying, “Gee, I have never done such an interesting job before,” causes us to laugh and takes pressure away to excel. I then can be more my true self.
Share your failures
What helps me to beat imposter syndrome is to share my failures. I talk about them with close friends and my business sparring partner. It helps me get new perspectives on the matter and let go. What happens is that I realize that my failure is not so dramatic and that it taught me important lessons. I once shared an embarrassing mistake in a blog. At the time, it was the best-read article, and it showed me that I am not the only one making mistakes!
Often, I hear that we must have compassion for others. It is important to have compassion for yourself as well. This means that it is okay to be yourself and to be pure (there is nobody like you). People will instantly sense when you’re acting or wearing a mask. So, treat yourself as you would treat your best friend or a loved one. You are allowed to learn and to grow.
Share your successes and celebrate them
A great way to beat future fear of failure is to share and celebrate your successes with others. They will be happy for you, encouraging you to take on the next challenging task. What helps is to create a folder with compliments you’ve received from clients. This focuses on the positive emotions of joy and fulfillment when I start a difficult job.
Surround yourself with people who support you
By surrounding yourself with people who support you and want the best for you, you get even more courage and confidence to go ahead. It is different from having more self-confidence. The word confidence comes from “confidere.” Con meaning together and fidere meaning trust. Thus, surround yourself with people for more trust.
Connect with your goals and your WHY
What will help you manage and deal with imposter syndrome is to connect with your goals (refer). Ask yourself, “What do I want?” or “What is my intention?”. By focusing on what you do want, you give space to your talents and your character strengths. Next, there is less space for worry or fear of failure.
Your WHY is your contribution and its effect on the world. It is unique, positive, and action-oriented. Your WHY is your cause, your reason for doing the way you do things. It is very powerful. By connecting with my WHY, I feel energized, positive, and assured that I manage any task, which helps me deal with imposter syndrome.
Do you want this too? Please read this article to find your WHY, or contact us directly for a FREE introductory session. We can help you, and your team discover your unique WHY so that you are clearer in what you (want to) do and to better manage imposter syndrome.
How do you deal with imposter syndrome? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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–What Is Imposter Syndrome?