HOW TO COMBAT IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
“I’ve just got my first AGM role and I’m part of the opening team for a new restaurant. I’m having a MAJOR confidence wobble. I was already feeling hugely nervous about the step-up, partly because I’m a lot younger than a lot of my team, then last week one of my key managers walked out and it’s totally thrown me. I keep thinking that she quit because I’m not being a good enough leader.
People keep telling me how good I am at what I do, but I just don’t believe it and my self-doubt is beginning to really impact my mental health and the quality of my work. I’m so proud of my new job and I desperately want to make it a success, for myself and for everyone else. I need a new mindset, can you help?!?”
- Embrace imposter syndrome as a natural response to challenges and new situations.
- Accept the presence of self-doubt but make a conscious choice not to be controlled by it.
- Transform your negative self-story into a more constructive and empowering narrative.
- Build self-belief by compiling a list of your qualifications and accomplishments.
- Enhance your confidence through mental rehearsal, envisioning successful interactions and outcomes.
- Cultivate daily habits that support your confidence, such as organisation and self-care.
- Invest time in learning new leadership skills.
Imposter syndrome (feeling like you are not qualified to do something) is NORMAL. It crops up more when we take on a challenge or in unfamiliar situations like a new job. These are times when we are outside of our comfort zone and feeling less secure.
Rather than being freaked out by it, EXPECT IT. The voice in your head may say things like you aren’t good enough to do this, you are faking it, you don’t have what it takes. We can’t completely control this voice. We may hear it. But we can choose whether or not to listen to it.
Some people even say we should all feel like an imposter every now and then. If you don’t, then you’re probably not challenging yourself enough in life. So, try welcoming in your imposter. It’s a sign you are growing.
What’s the story you are telling yourself? The messages we repeat have a big impact on our confidence and happiness levels. It sounds like your current story goes something like this. ‘My manager left and it’s all because of me and my poor leadership skills’.
Telling a new story isn’t lying to yourself. It’s remembering that our beliefs are not facts. They are just a subjective interpretation of the world. It is very possible that your current ‘story’ isn’t true.
If you are having negative thoughts that are shaking your confidence ask yourself: is this story true? Can I be sure it is ABSOLUTELY true? What else might be true? If the story you are telling yourself isn’t helping you, write a new, more helpful one.
You were chosen for this job. But right now, it sounds like you don’t trust what others see in you – your experience, achievements, strengths, and skills. Internalising praise is really believing what others see in you.
Write a brag list: a catalogue of all the reasons you are right for this job. Big and small, get around 30 things on there. You might include feedback you’ve been given, compliments you’ve been paid, things you’ve accomplished, personality traits, what you imagine others see in you. If imagining is hard try asking a few trusted people how they see you and what they think you bring as a manager.
If this gives you the ick remember this is not being arrogant. It’s shifting your mindset from self-doubt to self-belief.
Sports psychologists use a visualisation technique called mental rehearsal to help athletes build confidence and overcome anxiety.
Close your eyes. Picture the day ahead. Imagine a film of the day playing. In the film you are CONFIDENT AND KILLING IT. Notice how you move, what you say, the impact on people around you. Play the film through from the start of your workday to the end. Do this a couple of times. The whole process takes under a minute.
This isn’t woo-woo manifestation. It’s simply showing your brain where to go. Practising being confident in your head before you do it in real life can really help.
5. Get your confidence pillars in place
Focus on the daily habits that help you feel confident.
For many people things like being organised, having time to plan your day, arriving early, being rested and not hungover, wearing the right clothes, exercising, can all help us feel self-assured.
When are you at your best?
What habits help you feel good?
What could you do more of?
What might you stop?
What is one thing you will commit to?
Choose 3 daily habits that will help you feel good. Think of these like pillars to support you and your confidence. Focus on taking small steps to build more of these things into your life.
Leadership is not something we are born knowing how to do. The good news is it is a learnable skill. So, invest a bit of time learning it. As well as learning on the job, find what works for you. Speaking to leaders you like, consuming podcasts, reading books, working with a coach or mentor. You will be busy AF over the coming months but stepping back regularly to do this will be time well spent. Even if it’s just 30 minutes on the bus to work.
Some resources to get you started:
Remember…you are NORMAL, imposter syndrome is NORMAL! Apparently 70% of people experience it at some point in their lives. In fact, the more ‘successful’ you are, the more prone to feeling it you will be. It’s especially likely to rear its head when you’re stepping into new challenges – and since this is often when you’re busiest too, it can make your life even more difficult. It’s easier said than done of course, but try to embrace it as a sign of your growth and progress. Embrace the process, and in the busy months ahead, remember that dedicating even a small portion of your time to positive habits, a little bit of learning and a lot of self-care will pay off in spades. You’ve got this!