Do you have imposter syndrome?

Do you have imposter syndrome?

Do you have imposter syndrome?

She walked onto the court, nervous, apprehensive, and insecure. She thought, “What am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’ve just been lucky.” Despite holding numerous Grand Slam titles and being known as one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena Williams admits she struggles with the phenomenon known as the imposter syndrome.

Do you have imposter syndrome?

If so, you’re not alone.

Imposter syndrome occurs when you doubt your strengths, skills, and accomplishments, have a fear of being perceived as a fraud, and feel inadequate, even though there is plenty of evidence that proves otherwise.

If you feel fear and self-doubt, you are in good company. So do I. So do most people, regardless of age, culture, or gender, education, and experience. In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of the population suffers from imposter syndrome at one point or another.

Imposter syndrome isn’t a mental illness or moral weakness. It is a pattern of thinking, a habit that serves as a coping mechanism, even if it’s not helpful.

When I experience imposter syndrome (which happens all the time), here are a few things I try to remember:

The first step is recognition. Pay attention to people and situations that trigger your feelings of inadequacy. When you can train yourself to recognize it’s happening, you can proactively create a plan before going into those situations. For example, if meeting with senior executives brings out your insecurities, how can you prepare for that meeting differently? Coach yourself before you go into the discussion. Breathe, remember that we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and give yourself some grace.

Cultivate a growth mindset. Rather than trying to look smart, someone with a growth mindset focuses on getting smarter. Rather than striving for perfection, you strive to become better than you were before. A growth mindset allows you to use fear as fuel and the feeling of discomfort as a catalyst for growth. This doesn’t mean you don’t have self-doubt but that you learn to use it to improve.

Learn to talk to yourself, not just listen to yourself. We all have self-defeating voices in our heads. Having them is normal. Listening to them is a choice. Create a habit of speaking to yourself as you would with a friend or someone you care about. I have a picture of me as a little girl on my bathroom mirror. If I wouldn’t say it to little Annie, I shouldn’t say it to myself now. This helps you normalize self-doubt and recognize that these feelings are completely normal and part of the human experience.

Look at the evidence. There is plenty of evidence that you are not, in fact, an imposter. You’re no slouch, and you wouldn’t be where you are if you were incapable. Remember your strengths, accomplishments, and the things that matter most to you. The people who love and care about you know you are pretty incredible. Trust them.

Take action. Is there a skill you can learn, a stretch project you can volunteer for, a class you can take? Sometimes the best antidote to insecurity is to tackle something that scares you, learn something new, or build a new set of skills. All of these things add to self-confidence and remind you that you are more than capable.

Don’t forget to celebrate and reflect on your successes along the way. We are all a work in progress. Your teammates are insecure. The senior executives at your company are insecure. Even Serena Williams is insecure. Just remember, we are all doing the best we can each day to navigate this journey called life.

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Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.

Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.

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