Imposter Syndrome: A Professional Curse? Or Amazing Learning Opportunity?

Is imposter syndrome real? I can assure you that it is very much real, and most people have experienced it at some point in their lives.

Business is tough. Being a professional is tough. Being a leader is tough. Being brave and standing out is tough. Having way our ideas and thinking differently to others is tough.

I’ve seen some of the most successful people doubt themselves and their abilities. It can cause deep anxiety, self-hatred, a lack of confidence and failure to launch due to the fear of failure. But when you can recognise these toxic thought patterns, you can work on altering your mindset and thereby your belief systems.

I would know as when I recently got offered to do a TEDx talk and was told that I am basically “pre-approved” for this talk my immediate thoughts were that I cannot possibly be this interesting and accomplished person they are referring to… That I am a fraud, and they will still find this out! We’ve all been there. First the excitement, then the doubts set in, and before you know it panic and anxiety hits as you think of all the reasons you don’t deserve the success you are experiencing.

The truth is that you do indeed deserve to be there, and you deserve the success. All the worry, anxiety, stress, and negative thought patterns can be either avoided or successfully turned around by a few simple practices.

Here follows a couple of exercises you can do to help you either avoid or overcome imposter syndrome:

Separate your FEELINGS from the FACTS:

  1. Accept wholeheartedly that you are qualified, experienced, and deserving enough for the position, talk, promotion, etc.
  2. Understand that your feelings are unfounded and that you deserve the success.
  3. Just because you feel like you are not competent or deserving enough doesn’t mean you are.

Know that failure is your friend and part of life:

  1. We learn and grow as people and as professionals when we fail. Don’t view a failure as the end of the world when it happens, embrace it and learn every valuable lesson from the failure that you possibly can.
  2. Failure is your friend, just make sure that you own up and never blame it on your team, accept, learn the lesson, move on.
  3. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” The only thing you should fear is never trying something in the first place.

Change your internal conversations:

  1. Be conscious of your thoughts, the conversations that happen in your head.
  2. Understand that you cannot trust your mind, as your mind will tell you a whole lot of BS that you should not believe.
  3. When you pay attention to your internal dialogue you can then replace all the negative thoughts and feelings with new positive ones.
  4. This one takes a bit of time and effort but is totally worth it.

Visualise your success:

  1. Just as an athlete in a massive competition visualise the finish line or making the high jump, you as a leader, a professional, a businessperson, can visualise the outcome of your business negotiations, your projects, etc.
  2. Know the outcome you desire and visualise it daily, make it real in your mind.

Remember that all successful people had to start somewhere, and chances are that they too felt like they knew nothing and that they are fakes and frauds – but always remember that unless you put yourself out there, you will never achieve.

It is always worth the effort and remember that if you are the most intelligent and accomplished person in the room you are in the wrong room. Go and find a different room.

You only grow when you stretch and challenge yourself.

Never stop stretching and reaching further and higher.

Love and blessings!

Sharon Jessop

AKA The Rhino Lady

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