In episode 465, Valerie Young sheds light on the impostor syndrome and shows a healthy way out.
People in achievement areas (e.g., academics, business, career) have a high tendency for impostor syndrome. They credit their capabilities and accomplishments to things outside themselves, such as luck. Or, the “impostor” is unaware that they are in the middle of a normal learning curve. Examples of thoughts running inside their mind include:
- “I’m going to be found out.”
- “I’m in over my head. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
- “Everyone else is smarter than me.”
In moments of impostor syndrome, shift your mindset by reframing 3 key elements:
- Competence. No human can consistently hit perfection. Instead, develop a healthy drive to excel without feeling shame when you feel short. Not everything has to be perfect—especially on the first try. Course-correct as you go along.
- Criticism. Quit obsessing over your failure to meet others’ expectations. Instead, build on your strengths and wins. Seek out and appreciate constructive feedback and opportunities for improvement.
- Fear. Your body doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. Therefore, regardless of your feelings, tell yourself “I’m excited.”
Watch out for the five types of impostors:
- The perfectionists beat themselves up for minor mistakes in an otherwise excellent performance. To them, even a score of 99/100 is unacceptable.
- The experts never feel like they know enough. They think that they have to know 150% before taking action on their endeavors.
- The natural genius thinks, “If I were really intelligent, this wouldn’t be so hard.” They struggle to master things in their mind when others have worked for a long time to achieve mastery.
- The soloists think accomplishments only count if they complete them all by themselves. They feel shame if they have to ask for help.
- The superman/woman/student strives to excel in every role they play in their life—even when that’s impossible.
To feel less like a fraud, adopt the beliefs and behaviors of a non-impostor:
- While we want to excel at lots of things, we’re not going to excel at everything. We cannot know and do it all.
- Celebrate your successes and reward yourself for your efforts, no matter the outcome. Consider all things to be opportunities for learning and growth.
- Always see yourself as a work in progress.
- When others doubt your capability, jump in anyway and trust that you can figure it out as you go. When you are in over your head, lean on your support network and resources.
Everyone loses when bright people play small. Please don’t hold back from showing your full range of knowledge, skills, and potential! Remember that you got hired for your capacity. Somebody out there could be feeling the impact of your potential.
You are entitled to make a mistake, have an off day, and be yourself. Moments of feeling incompetent and stupid will come. But step up, take it as an opportunity, and tell yourself, “Somebody is going to get that cool job. Somebody is going to do that cool thing. It might as well be me.”
Read / listen to the full episode here.