Imposter syndrome – The nemesis of all high achievers

The good news first. If you find yourself relating to this post chances are you are a high achiever or a leader in whatever you do.

imposter syndrome
High achievers and leaders generally thrive on their achievements. While power, wealth and fame may also be strong motivators, the high of delivering on a difficult outcome is generally unmatched. The world of a high performer is also very different from that of an average performer. There is a lot more activity and a very strong commitment to the outcomes. Most high achievers thrive in high-speed, high stress environments.

Needless to say not every high achiever is built equal and the stress threshold may vary based on individual’s inner beliefs and identity. Irrespective of where the threshold lies, every achiever carries within them the fear that they have either reached this threshold, are about to reach this threshold or have crossed this threshold. This is where “Imposter Syndrome” takes control.
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Imposter Syndrome, as the name suggests implies feeling like a fake. This may manifest in various ways, the most common one being, where an individual feels that they that don’t deserve the success they have achieved and feel like a fraud. . This may  result in an individual being afraid to take on responsibility because they feel that they do not have the skills or ability to deliver the results needed. While  the individual has these thoughts going around in his/her head they will generally continue to act out as the achiever that they are which in turn continues to feed the feeling of being fake. This end up becoming a vicious cycle till the individual becomes convinced that they are no good and start operating from this belief, often severely damage their performance and career.

Go through the below questions to check if you they apply to you

  • Do you secretly attribute your success up to luck, timing, or error?
  • Do you worry over making your work perfect? Are even small flaws not acceptable?
  • Do you feel fearful of criticism and see it as proof of your impending failure?
  • When you succeed, do you feel like you fooled them or it was a mistake someone made?
  • Do you worry that it’s just a matter of time before you’re “found out” for a fraud?”
If any of these questions relate to how you feel you may be impacted by Imposter Syndrome

Why does this “feeling like a fake” happen?

As mentioned earlier Imposter Syndrome is the domain of high achievers.
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  • Aiming for perfection: When you are constantly in the limelight and expected to meet high standards that others and you set for yourself there is a point where being “perfect” starts taking a toll. No one is perfect. And when you start believing that you “should” be, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and like most achievers will follow disappointment with depreciating self talk. In an era where we only share our best pictures on our online profile, accepting that life is made up of imperfections can be difficult.Dr. Valerie Young says that, “The thinking here is, If I don’t know everything, then I know nothing. If it’s not absolutely perfect, it’s woefully deficient. If I’m not operating at the top of my game 24/7, then I’m incompetent.”
  • Belief about self-worth: Some achievers start out with a vision of success but reality proves that they are worth more and they go ahead way faster than they anticipated. This can be disorienting. Accepting and internalizing your achievements may become difficult if you are not ready. Sometimes what also happens is that the beliefs and behaviours that worked for them when they were starting out stop working as their responsibilities grow and change.
  • Comparison with others: This can work both ways. If someone else seems to be handling the same job with ease and finesse it can be intimidating. With this comparison you end up focusing on what the other person has that you don’t, instead of realising that you do have your own strengths to rely on. Unknown to you the other person may be dealing with their own imposter syndrome. They may just be very good at putting up a brave front. Comparison can also happen where you move ahead so fast that you leave a lot of people behind. This can often make you wonder, if they haven’t made it maybe you shouldn’t have either. Often meeting these people can also be difficult if you don’t know how to behave around them or if these people are jealous of your success.

 

What are some ways to deal with Imposter Syndrome?

  1. Acknowledge your feelings:Start with reflecting and acknowledging your feelings. You may encounter fear, frustration, stress and even shame. Accepting what you feel is the first step to fixing it.1
  2. Look back on your success path and recall your success strategies: When you started on your success journey recall what your mindset was. Did you really know every thing you needed for the job or did you learn along the way? Did you “always” get it right? How many of those behaviours can you implement today?
  3. Accept your worth: If you have made it this far remember that it means you are better than the average crowd. Even when you feel your success is undeserved remember you are not expected to know everything and you are better that those around you.
  4. Look at changing beliefs that don’t work: What are your beliefs about your current job? Is it too hard and needs too much skills? What about your beliefs about yourself? Do you feel you don’t have what it takes to do this job? Are you afraid to fail and look bad?

 

 

Work with a good professional coach is a strong way to develop mental strategies to change limiting beliefs and behaviours. To know more send an email to rachel@rachelgojer.com

 

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