• Pulse of Change
  • Posts
  • How to turn Imposter syndrome into an opportunity to grow?

How to turn Imposter syndrome into an opportunity to grow?

As I headed to my classroom, I passed by Healy Hall. This gorgeous gothic building always served as a reminder of Georgetown University's extensive 200-year history, adding to the pressure felt by students and faculty. Upon entering the classroom, I found it smaller than I had expected. I felt small, too. This was my first class to teach, and I felt out of place. I questioned why I was even here to teach; it must have been a mistake or pure luck, perhaps both. I felt like I didn't belong. I felt like an imposter even though I had taught successfully this material before, but not at Georgetown!

I not only survived, but I thrived! After several years of teaching, I know that I do belong. I also discovered that my impostor feelings during that first class were shared by nearly all of my friends who are professors.

Individuals experiencing imposter syndrome often believe they are not as capable or talented as others perceive them to be (despite the evidence), attributing their successes to luck or external factors rather than their abilities. Sounds familiar?

🪞 How to recognize Imposter syndrome in yourself?

This is how the Imposter Syndrome could feel like:

👥 Self-doubt: Constantly questioning one's abilities and feeling uncertain about whether they deserve their achievements.

😱 Fear of failure: A deep-seated fear of making mistakes or failing to meet expectations, leading to perfectionism and avoidance of new challenges.

🙅‍♂️ Attributing success to external factors: Believing that any success or recognition is solely due to luck, timing, or other people's support, rather than one's skills and efforts.

🤏 Discounting accomplishments: Minimizing or dismissing personal achievements as insignificant or not worthy of recognition.

🤦‍♀️ Comparing oneself to others: Constantly comparing one's abilities and accomplishments to those of others, often feeling inadequate.

✊ It's not what you think!

1️⃣ High Achievers Are More Prone. Imposter syndrome, often seen in high-achievers, stems from the paradoxical fear of not living up to their reputation despite significant accomplishments.

2️⃣ Affects Both Genders While imposter syndrome was initially observed in women, studies have shown that it affects both men and women almost equally.

3️⃣ Affects All Career Stages. It can occur at any career stage, including promotions, job changes, or new responsibilities, contradicting the notion that experience and expertise naturally bring confidence.

4️⃣ It might come and go. It can be a cyclical experience, with periods of intense self-doubt followed by times of greater confidence. It's about building a system to recognize it and framing it as a part of your growth.

🤼 How to deal with Imposter syndrome?

First of all, there is nothing wrong with you! The good news is that you already have the inner capacity to overcome it! It's just a matter of activating it.

Here are some tactics you can use:

🗣️ Talk About It

Sharing your feelings of imposter syndrome with trusted colleagues, mentors, or friends can normalize the experience. It often reveals that others face similar doubts, reducing the isolation and stigma of imposter syndrome.

🥳 Collect Evidence of Success

Keep a "brag book" or success journal where you document your achievements, positive feedback, and milestones. This tangible evidence serves as a reminder of your skills and accomplishments when you feel like an imposter.

🧗 Challenge Negative Thoughts

Imposter syndrome is fueled by irrational beliefs & negative self-talk. Practice cognitive reframing by challenging these thoughts & replacing them with realistic assessments of your abilities. For example, replace "I don't belong here" with "I earned my place through hard work."

🧐 Seek Feedback and Mentoring

Regular feedback from mentors or supervisors can offer objective perspectives on your performance and highlight areas of strength. Mentorship provides guidance, encouragement, and a trusted source of advice to help navigate imposter syndrome.

📚 Embrace Growth and Learning

Reframe challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Instead of viewing mistakes as proof of inadequacy, see them as part of the learning process. This mindset shift reduces the fear of failure and helps you embrace new challenges with confidence.

🎙️ TED Talk: “How you can use impostor syndrome to your benefit”

To learn more, we recommend this TED talk by Mike Cannon-Brookes, where he shares how his experiences of impostor syndrome helped pave the way to his success.

"Feeling like an imposter is a sign that you're growing. Embrace it as proof that you're pushing your boundaries and striving for excellence.” - Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post

Until next time, we hope you find the balance between pushing yourself & being kind to yourself!

If you want more free content about leadership, personal development, and change, subscribe here: New Subscribers Link 

What do you think about today's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.