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5 ways to defeat your Imposter Syndrome

We’ve all felt it. The outsider at a meeting, a function. Awkward and nervous. Assuming people are making judgements about you.

The imposter.

Guess what? You’re not.

My life and attitude changed dramatically the day I realised my opinion was valuable.

There I was, sitting at a Steering Committee meeting, filling in for my CEO. I was still up-and-coming, so not even middle-management level. But I was given the opportunity because I showed interest. My task was simple, to relay the plans that my CEO outlined to me when it came to our Business Unit’s turn to update, in the meeting.

I was a true imposter at this meeting as I was the only junior there, the rest were all senior to mid-level execs. On that day, I not only relayed details as I was prepped to, but I went beyond, by venturing an opinion/idea.

My idea was initially quickly dismissed by two execs in the room, in that very curt, ‘she-doesn’t-know-what-she-is-talking-about” kind of way. Fortunately for me, chairing this meeting was a man who would end up being my mentor for the largest part of my corporate career. And he paid attention to my opinion. In fact, he paused the dismissive tactics and gave me airtime by probing my context for volunteering that particular idea. I felt I was on the spot, but I rattled through in a seemingly incoherent manner from my perspective.

It wasn’t incoherent.

That was the feedback I received from the chairman post the meeting, along with a thank you for participating and “bring more of those ideas next time”. I wasn’t even sure there would be a next time – this was meant to be a one-time deal.

 

It wasn’t a one-time deal.

I went on to attend every SteerCo meeting thereafter, and as I progressed in seniority through the business, so too did my ideas expand and embed in the firm.

So, how do you then conquer your imposter feeling?

1. You need a helping hand. Find a wingman/woman who can support you. In my case, it was fortunately a leader who was positively disposed to inclusiveness. But it could just as easily be a colleague, or external support such as a coach.

2. When you speak up, expand on your thinking. You may feel like you’re incoherent, because you’re overwhelmed with nerves. But your actual message will probably be heard loud and clear.

3. Quieten those inner voices. Focus the mind on the task at hand, in the moment, not on what could happen. You don’t have a crystal ball therefore you cannot know how your words will be received, judged and negated. Just don’t take the bait.

4. Know that it’s ok if you don’t know the answer or if you stumble. Very few people march ahead without stumbling. Only by falling can you rise stronger, by learning, correcting and adapting. 

5. Flip the imposter feeling over. When you starting to feel those negative ‘imposter vibes” starting to flutter, immediately think of why you belong there or should be there, at that moment. Its useful to have confidence boosters prepped ahead. It could be through reviewing your achievements, or experiences very quickly, or a powerful confidence-boosting moment. What you’re trying to do, in essence, is overpower the negativity with positivity, in a short space of time.

You are not an imposter. You belong.

Find Your Prerna (inspiration). Be bold. Be brave