I’m an imposter. How many times have you told yourself that? I’m not good at what I do. Someone will find out that I’m a fraud. Any success I’ve had was just luck. I don’t belong here.
Imposter syndrome a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.
This really hits home with me. I often feel like everything I’ve done in my career has been luck. I’m constantly comparing myself to everyone else and I have an overwhelming fear that someone will look at the things I have done, roll their eyes, shake their heads, and mumble what’s he doing here?!
This sometimes stops me (or at the very least slows me down) from going out and doing things in fear of failing, which, I believe, is an essential part of success.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
So how do we overcome imposter syndrome?
Let yourself off the hook.
I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best or we compare ourselves to everyone else. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Quit trying to be a one person one stop shop. The world is too big. There is always someone else who knows more. There will also always be someone who knows less. Understand that and ask for help when its needed.
Help other people.
Just as you are dealing with imposter syndrome your peers might be too.
…the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.
Cut your peers some slack and help them when they need it. Once you stop holding other people to impossible standards, you may find you stop holding yourself to them too.
Document your success.
Quantify your success by writing everything you’ve done down. It won’t all be your best work, but I bet more of it will be than you think.
Sometime over the last year I updated my resume and LinkedIn profile to include projects that I was proud of. I was surprised by the number of things I had accomplished in my career. I actually had to leave some things out.
Go listen to Chris Lema’s inspirational talk on escaping imposter syndrome. For those that suffer, it may help you understand that you’re not alone. For those that don’t, it may help you understand it better.