I know something about you. Yes you.
You’re an imposter, aren’t you? Or, more likely you feel like one.
I know because feeling a fraud is rife. I was talking with a very successful CEO the other day and he said that he often feels like someone is going to catch him out.
It’s comforting, if not sad, to know it’s not just you or me. Famous people, incredibly successful and skilled people, males and females, younger and older can all hear a gnarly, nobbling voice.
Indeed, according to a Guardian article which acknowledges a study in the International Journal of Behavioural Science, 70% of people doubt their abilities.
Consider Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg:
“There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."
Or Dr Margaret Chan, former Chief of the World Health Organisation:
“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”
I find that 70% figure rather frightening. I mean, there are decisions being made across the UK (and the world) that impact lives and livelihoods, and yet the data is telling us that 70% of those people doubt themselves? The comforting thing here is that I know when I have nobbling doubts, I also know that I'm very capable and I know I'll achieve what I set out to do even if it's not in the best way the first time around. I reckon the doubters among us excel, in part because of the nobbling voice. We pull out all the stops.
Annoyingly, that gnarly voice tries to get us when we feel most anxious or challenged – perhaps before a presentation, a business deal or job or media interview.
It's really important to here to remember you CAN do this. Let me be your cheerleader.
First of all, root through your memories and remind yourself of your successes and skills. What tough and challenging situations have you got through before because of your capabilities, hard work, doggedness or quick thinking? Put one or two of those memories in your head - the great feeling that came with the sense of achievement. Really feel that feeling.
You know you have grandly got through tough situations before - and that you learned things that you'd have never learned otherwise. You know too, that you got a little bit stronger and probably a lot more wiser. As your cheerleader, I know you can do this, you have the ability, capability and grit to get through it. You've done so many challenging things before and you'll feel amazing when you've made a few little steps that lead towards great big achievements.
Imposter Syndrome is something I talk about as part of my Engaging Communications course, but more to the point here, I would love to know your views on it – any anecdotes, anything funny, anything amazing, any points of view, any ways you or have seen others fight it?
Talk to me, lovely HR community, I’d love to hear from you. Comment below, or get in touch on kay.phelps@PRinHR.co.uk.
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