I suffer from Imposter Syndrome. The belief that, perhaps, I don’t really belong here, that I’m not really expert enough to educate others on what I know, that others have done this before or done it better than me. I am hyper aware that at various stages of my professional (and personal) life I have felt like I don’t really belong — or that I simply escaped detection until now.
Imposter Syndrome keeps me small. It keeps me playing it safe. Hiding my true talents and ambitions from the world because I am scared that I will fail. It prevents me from scaling my business as quickly and expansively as I dream of, because I worry that someone will call b.s. and demand I step back in favor of someone greater. Someone who has already proven their worth and their expertise.
The great irony of feeling like an imposter is that it continues to bring you down. To hold you in place. To keep you “safe” by actually keeping you small.
Recently, I read a few books that were meant to build me up. To boost my confidence and reinforce the immense value that I offer to those I encounter. Tara Mohr’s Playing Big reminds me that my voice is unique and my message is needed. That ever since childhood the lessons I’ve learned about being a “good girl” and “following the rules and getting good grades” have held me back as an adult.
And Rachel Hollis’s “Girl, Stop Apologizing” tells me to cut the bullshit and allow myself to admit to myself AND the world that my ambitions matter and that I am tired of hiding behind the facade of blending in with the rest of the world.
Each of these books, along with so many others, has an important message.
Don’t play small. Don’t let the fear of others’ reactions keep you in hiding. Be bold enough to step into the limelight. Admit what you are truly going after and go for it! Risk Failing — in front of everyone.
When I hear this feedback and I am inspired. I want to live boldly. I want to play it big. I want to put my voice out there. I believe I have eternal wisdom and light to share. Then why when it comes time to put myself on the line and do what really scares me, do I play it safe.
For me, “playing it safe” means going into research and conversations or asking others what they believe. Summarizing. Pulling together others’ insights. IN essence, hiding from my own observations of the world by finding enough “evidence” to back me up before I might be bold enough to say it out loud.
I help others overcome feeling like an imposter. I build up women around me, and coaching clients, and I help so many people to find their voice. And then, here I stand, basking in my own feelings of being an imposter, sometimes wondering if I’m the most qualified to support them in this quest.
As a friend recently pointed out to me “Amanda, imagine that your clients are experiencing just as much imposter syndrome as you currently feel, and now imagine how much you could help them to overcome it — just as you are doing for yourself.” While this is not a direct quote, the words are a big enough mirror held up in my face to ignore.
My experience of the world is true — and every single emotion that I feel is not mine alone to experience. Truly there is a world of talented men and women out there who are feeling the same sense of guilt/fear/shame/confusion that I feel at knowing I am smart enough, good enough, experienced enough to do what I’m doing — and yet still facing a “what if” blockade to moving forward.
So to help those of you for whom this resonates to start pushing past your own unwarranted fear or insecurity, I challenge you to complete the following 2 exercises.
Exercises for Getting Over Your Fear and Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the Curb
Exercise 1 - Have a Conversation with People Who Know You
Ask friends, family, and colleagues to share what impact you’ve had on them. How have you supported them? How have you impressed them? What have you done in your life that they wished they could do?
- Step 1: Ask at least 10 people for feedback.
- Step 2: Write down (or copy) what they have told you.
- Step 3: Keep it in a file where you can easily access it, e.g. on your desktop, and start every morning by reading it.
- Step 4: When you begin to feel insecure, pull up that file and read it again.
- Step 5: Remember that you absolutely rock and you’ve got this!
Exercise 2 - Write in a Journal
What do you know you are good at? What skills or talents do you have? What professional accomplishments have you reached? What parts of yourself do you love?
- Step 1: Write down as many items as you want, but no fewer than 20. Make this list comprehensive. This is what you know to be true about yourself.
- Step 2: Whenever you feel imposter syndrome creeping it — take a look at your list and remember who you are and what you are capable of when you are in your full power.
- Step 3: Remember how many badass things you’ve done in your life and how capable you are of doing more.
Amanda Parker, Leadership Coach & Founder of The Courage Factory, works with leaders, like you, who want to hit the ground running so they can succeed in their new role.
Through coaching with Amanda, you will clarify your purpose & vision, and start to feel confident in your ability to inspire, engage, and lead others.
Schedule a 20-min discovery call to see if Lead With Purpose can help you become a better leader today.