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Fighting the good fight against imposter syndrome.
Everyone feels it at some point. How will you get over it?
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Robot Overlord Joke of the Day
Q: What do you call fake spaghetti?
A: An im-pasta!
“Fake it until you make it.”
One of my first projects in my consulting career was the first time in my life I felt imposter syndrome. I was “sold” to the client - a significant player in the cereal world - as an expert in Sharepoint who would be coming in to create solutions within the project management part of this multimillion-dollar project.
How did we get to the point where I was an “expert”? I told the leader pitching me to the client that I created a Sharepoint site and moved some columns around once. Somehow that translated into, “Let’s bring this analyst six months into their career and have him tell the CTO of a multinational food manufacturing company how to run things.” That makes sense, right? It took about 10 minutes on site to realize I was way over my head. After months of feeling like a complete imposter, I found another project and rolled off feeling like a failure.
My next project started with the same vibes. I was expected to be an Excel expert. I could have just gone it alone - feeling the same imposter feelings and more than likely ending my consulting career. This time, however, I recognized that I needed support to avoid the same fate. I took action to do things differently.
I started working closely with my team and my leader to understand where they needed help. I figured out how to take what I did well and shared these skills with them, and, in exchange, they had more time to help me level up on skills I didn’t even know I needed. I left the project having left my mark and feeling great about my achievements. It was the most rewarding project I have ever worked on still to this day.
Let’s cover some ideas about taking your imposter syndrome head-on.
Note: This is how the Robot Overlords created an “imposter” image for me. No murder vibes at all. Oof.
1. Realize everyone suffers from imposter syndrome at some point.
At some point in your career, you will feel like you don’t belong in your work situation. Maybe you’re early in your career, and you find out that you are going to have to present to the C-suite. Perhaps you’re in a leadership role, and you’re asked to decide the fate of your team, and you feel completely overwhelmed that you’re going to make the wrong decision.
If you find your inner imposter syndrome kicking in, remember that there is a reason you are in this challenging scenario. People believe in you and your capabilities. Although it may feel daunting, you have it in you to take the skills and abilities that made people believe in you and harness them to get through these feelings of self-doubt. This is your opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do it. Use the belief of others in you as motivation to get through the challenge - just like you have at every other challenge in the past.
2. Building solid relationships with your team will ensure they are around to help you through.
If you’ve read my previous newsletters, you will notice that I am a huge proponent of building relationships with your team. There are many benefits to this approach to working, and one of the biggest I have found in my career, as I highlighted above, is that your team can offer the support you need to overcome these imposter feelings.
When struggling with a challenge, loop in some of your most trusted coworkers and ask them for their feedback; share your goals and what you are struggling with and get their perspectives. Often, they are aware of your work landscape and may offer validation or a different way of viewing your approach that can boost your confidence and help you get through these feelings.
3. Set goals to achieve while overcoming imposter syndrome.
If you are facing a challenge that seems way too large, an approach to fighting off the imposter feelings is to build up positive momentum by creating a list of what I’ll call “little wins.”
Grab your favorite notepad and draw out your book ends - your starting point and your end goal. Think about a handful of little wins you could have on the path to hitting your end goal. As time progresses and you are working towards the goal, re-visit your list, and once you have achieved a little win, take time to reflect and celebrate the fact that you’re making progress.
With each little win you achieve, remind yourself of how you felt when you started the journey. Think about how you feel now that you can see the wins accumulating, and remember: You are not an imposter. You got this.
Video of the Day
Christina Whittaker - One thing no one told you about imposter syndrome
There are many videos related to imposter syndrome; this was my favorite after watching them. The main message Christina hits on when dealing with imposter syndrome is to remember how motivating hope can be. Hope is a significant driver in your future potential and a great way to get through these imposter-y feelings you have.
Podcast of the Day
UnF*ck Your Brain is an excellent podcast with many topics that can be applied to improving yourself and your work life. This one hits on an approach to handling imposter syndrome called the “thought ladder,” and it tracks with my little wins process above.
What have you done to fight the inner imposter syndrome? Click the button to leave a comment. Let’s go!
Past newsletters you might find interesting
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