How to get over your imposter syndrome and lead through uncertainty
Imposter syndrome only gets worse the more senior you get and there is nothing worse than being unable to get out of your own way.
In this time of uncertainty, the world needs confident, secure leaders that can make decisions and take actions that move people forward together. Fear is doing more damage to the world population than the Covid-19 virus itself, so we need leaders that can lead with calm sense of authority and clarity with decision making.
However, as many senior leaders are plagued by imposter syndrome this current rapid changing environment is preventing them from making the impact that that would help their organisations, because they question their own ability to navigate these uncharted waters.
Leadership isn’t about rank it’s about self-belief and esteem and now is not the time to be questioning yourself.
So how do you free yourself from feeling like an imposter?
Five steps to freedom...
1. Stop comparing yourself to others - the biggest feeder of imposter syndrome is constantly comparing yourself to others and making yourself feel more and more insignificant by magnifying every possible reason for why you think they are more significant. Instead start by looking at yourself and write a list of all the reasons why you are credible. If you are struggling with writing that list - start by writing 'If I believed in myself what would I be telling myself?' keep on writing that over and over and over until your brain starts flowing with all the reasons you have credibility - don't stop until you have at least 20 reasons on a page.
2. Accept and love yourself - Each of us will take different paths to navigating the time we have on this earth. Our experiences and learnings are unique to our personal journeys but the one thing you must remember is that no-one has any greater right to be on this earth than you do. We each have a life to live and if you start with surrendering to notion that you belong on this earth then you are closer than you think to acceptance of yourself. We all know how we like to be loved, but how many of us realise that we have the power to give ourselves the love we desire? Imagine you were talking to someone you loved dearly - say a partner, friend or family member, how would you help them see themselves clearly? How would you help them see their worth? and how would demonstrate they were a strong leader in their life? Now turn the mirror on you - take the principles you've just applied to your loved one and apply them to yourself - do you see how much power you have?
3. Recognise you are denying others - when you are focussing on all the things you are not, you are stopping yourself from focussing on all the things that you are. Look around at all the people in the world that have made a difference to your life. Those people that were brave enough to write books that had never been written before and share their stories and sometimes painful lessons so you could learn from their experiences. If they had sat in silence, feeling that they were imposters for not being good enough or smart enough to write a book, you'd have been denied all the value you had received from their courage. Recognise you too have value to give the world, there are people around you that need to hear your journey and lessons. You are unique, there is only one of you in this world and there will never be another you. You are not an imposter, you are figuring out life in the same way we all are, so give others the gift of you and recognise that you hiding behind your self-created sense of insignificance is not serving anyone. Give others permission to live freely too by choosing to do the same, show people how you are moving forward and give them courage to do so too.
4. Acknowledge your growth - how we measure success plays a big factor in understanding this point. If you measure success as being the finished article, then you will always feel like an imposter. However, if you use incremental improvements everyday as your metric for success then you actually don't limit yourself to an idea of a finished article and you can continue to succeed exponentially. Not only does this method take your further than you ever imagined but by measuring progress rather than an end state means that your successes are limitless. If it helps at the end of each day write down one thing you learned that day that you didn't know before. Over a year you'll be able to see exactly how you've grown and there will be no arguing with that as the facts will be clear for you to see. It's also a great motivation to show why it's important to keep on growing - I mean what would you do if you were the finished article? How boring would life be if you didn't have something new to learn?
5. Laugh at yourself - Ok this is probably my favourite step because it's a little stupid, but it does work. Whenever I've found myself doubting my accomplishments or worried that I don't know enough I've personally found it's hard to take myself out of the downward spiral that imposter syndrome loves to suck me into. So, I've taken the advice of someone who's had more experience than me in this area of personal freedom, Tony Robbins - whose belief is that if you want to want to change your life you must change your state. With that in mind when I know I'm feeling like an imposter I take myself away to somewhere I can be alone and where no-one can hear me - usually the bathroom! I look in the mirror and tell myself all the reasons I believe I'm an imposter - but when I do this I talk in the voice of a very young child. As I see myself in the mirror and hear how ridiculous my voice sounds, I often find myself stopping halfway through and laughing. So, then I try again to get through all the reasons, but it feels even more silly the second time round. Doing this exercise disrupts the pattern that is usually attributed to the stories I tell myself when I'm in the imposter zone and it breaks me out of the downward spiral. It works because when I start to repeat the same old stories, I end up recalling the time standing in front of the mirror and my silly voice which then makes me see how ridiculous I am being, and it stops me from believing my own bullshit.
So, there you are, my five steps to freedom from imposter syndrome. These are just a few things that you can do that will help you banish your imposter monster – let me know how you go!
I’m Glin Bayley, Founder of Heart of Human, I work with established C-level and senior female executives to claim their equal seat at the table. My work focuses to help them to create a strong leadership impact and have confidence for the life they want both at work and home.
Please reach out if you’d like a free one-hour video call to do a 360 diagnostic of where you need to focus your leadership during this time.
Email Glin@heartofhuman.com and put 360 Leadership in the subject title.
There is no obligation to work with me after this session, I won’t be selling anything to you – if you wanted to discuss working with me beyond that you would be most welcome to ask what that would look like, but only if that’s what you wanted. This session is a gift for a limited period (until end of April 2020) to assist female leaders to lead with gravitas during this time.
Or feel free to understand what is getting in the way of your leadership, by completing the unstoppable human scorecard to see how unstoppable you are. https://unstoppablehuman.scoreapp.com/