As defined by Wikipedia, impostor syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
A little over a year ago I left the relative security of a corporate job – having spent nearly 25 years working for multi-nationals – and set up my own consulting business Pin Consult. Over the past 12 months I have re-learned what is important to me, and where I believe I can have the biggest impact. I have re-worked and simplified my business, sales and marketing strategy. Sometimes I have got it wrong, sometimes I have got it right.
I have learned more about ‘the important stuff’ in one-year than I had in the previous ten… Pin Consult has evolved a lot, so I guess it’s no wonder that I sometimes feel like an impostor.
The good news is that I am not alone, and at some time in their career, nearly everyone will suffer from impostor syndrome.
“Impostor syndrome” sounds cooler than self-doubt, however, I think in many ways this syndrome is simply a case of good old-fashioned doubt.
What is the best way to overcome impostor syndrome? I am not a qualified psychologist; however, I have experience here, and think that if you remember and practise these three things you will go a long way towards overcoming it:
- The first thing you can do is prepare and practice. Whatever you are doing, that is making you feel like an impostor, the two things that never fail to help are preparation and practice.
- In those moments of stress one thing to remember is that you are not saving the world. Unless your job is to save the world? The point here (as my wife has been known to tell me in the past), is to put things in perspective. What will happen if you don’t do as well as you would have liked? Will you not win the pitch? Then what will happen? Will people laugh at you? Will your health fail you? Will your family and friends leave you? Of course not.
- The third thing I find works for me, is to remember that most of what we do has been done before, hundreds if not thousands of times. And even if the exact same things hasn’t been done before there are many people around the world, right now, doing almost the same thing that you are. And most of them are no smarter nor better than you are. If you look hard enough, you will realise that with most things in life, there is a well-trodden path to follow…
Number one is worth repeating; regardless of what it is you are doing, the two things that never fail to help are to prepare and practise. And as Alexander Graham Bell said after inventing the telephone; “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Thanks as always for listening and feel free to share, comment or contact me with any thoughts or questions that you have.