Maya Angelou once said:
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
Even the most successful, prolific people can struggle with the Impostor Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon that tends to afflict women and people of color especially. It’s basically that anxiety-inducing sensation of feeling like a total fraud.
And it stems from being unable to internalize your own successes.
“I got lucky!”
“I was in the right place at the right time!”
“I don’t belong here.”
Those are the kinds of thoughts that can really chip away at your confidence and your sense of belonging. But, there are steps you can take to flip the script on the Impostor Syndrome and step into your power as a professional.
First, acknowledge your privilege, and your agency
Life isn’t fair.
Sometimes, we are handed opportunities that have nothing to do with earning them. But, you can also choose to rise to the occasion and make the most of the opportunities that come your way. You can acknowledge your privilege without letting it paralyze you, if you also acknowledge that you’re trying to make the most of what’s been handed to you. And that’s worth acknowledging, too. Plenty of privileged people squander their opportunities. So, focus on owning your power and using it for good.
Which brings me to a second strategy: stay focused on others – it’s not about you
Being stuck in the spiral of the Impostor Syndrome is really about your ego.
As Tina Fey once said, “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So, you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.”
And she’s right. When you’re fixating on feeling like an impostor – you’re focused completely on you. Get focused on serving others – make the people you report to happy, and you’ll be making the most of your opportunity. When you focus on providing value to others, you’ll get out of own head and remember it’s not actually about you and your circumstances. It’s about how you can deliver for your boss, your constituents, your team, or the people you’re advocating for.
And finally, phone a friend
It’s incredibly helpful to talk with someone you trust who can remind you that none of us know what we’re doing 100% of the time. What kind of fun would that be, anyway?
When you can turn to a friend who can mirror back to you the most courageous, capable version of yourself, you’ll be reminded of your past successes, and your ability to persevere in the future, too.
Keep in mind, this isn’t the time to call your most neurotic friends and family members. You don’t need someone else worrying for you – this is the time to call someone who believes in you even when you’re not so sure yourself.
If you find you’re stumped when comes to connecting with others who can encourage you like that, know that The Bossed Up Courage Community is here for you – and designed for that very purpose.
So how do you push back on that voice in your head that makes you feel like an impostor?
I want to hear from you – and tell me if these strategies help, too. Share your experience in the comments below, or in the Bossed Up Courage Community on Facebook. I’d love to hear how this boss tip works for you!