Congrats, you just landed a promotion, or maybe you landed your dream job. You have been working for this position for several years and finally, you made it. So why do you feel so unsure of yourself? Of all times now, you feel like you are a very small worm on a very large hook. Maybe your promotion was a mistake. How could you ever do the job you are supposed to do? What if your boss finds out? What if the people you are supposed to lead find out, you will never get them to cooperate.
Maybe you want to try a new venture and you keep hearing yourself say who would listen to me? Why would anyone want to buy my service? What do I know? The stories you tell yourself are stories that only you believe. These stories are what are called the imposter syndrome
What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is the feeling of not being worthy of the accomplishments you have made. Often people feel as though they are portraying a fraud or an imposter. This feeling for not being good enough doesn’t just apply to those of us who are starting out. Albert Einstein called himself an “Involuntary swindler” David Bowie once said,
I was driven to get through life very quickly. I really felt so utterly inadequate.
Ryan Reynolds from Deadpool and other movies has said
But to be honest, I still feel like a freckle-faced kid, faking it until I make it.
Therefore, feeling like you are fake or that you have everybody fooled is normal. That is your mind being in a place of discomfort and screaming that it wants to go back to the cave and just watch Netflix. That way it doesn’t have to worry. You know that you are safe from tigers and bears. No one is going to embarrass you by yelling out that you don’t belong, even though you are right where you need to be.
We often look back at our childhood and those times we were in high school when we were trying to get a finger hold on who we are. We start to experiment with our image because that is what we believe to be important. Sometimes we find a style that we like and it is a huge divergent from the norm and we are questioned by our friends.
This history may help contribute to the emotion of fear and that we are not in the right place when we do have success it is a big change. It’s the event of being in a new environment and way out of the ordinary that sparks the thought that we don’t belong.
The Time I was an Imposter
A couple of years back I was with a great company and they knew I was wanting out of the truck. So they placed me into dispatch. I was responsible for getting trucks to track where the trucks were so if a sand coordinator asked I could tell them where the trucks were. I was also tasked with sending the drivers out to get the sand. Then inform them when they were supposed to arrive back at the location. This was great I was going to be home every night. The nights were a bit rough because the phone was ringing and the constant notifications that a drier arrived and left needed to be logged.
My problem was that deep down I didn’t deserve to be in this position. I told myself the story that I was disorganized. Yeah, I could write in between batches of trucks but I was worried about what the other drivers were thinking of me. Were they going to think I was scheduling the deliveries with a 100 mile an hour pencil? I also set myself up with being self-sabotaged. When the head of the company told me that he was pulling me out of the truck and I was going to help with dispatch, the first words out of my mouth weren’t “Awesome! Way to go!” it was, “Don’t screw this up. You can’t even organize your underwear drawer.” Sure enough about 2 months in I let that story build in my head and I screwed up. I forgot about a driver who decided he was tired and took a nap. I didn’t have anybody to cover that load and they almost ran out of the sand.
In the Oilfield, business running out of sand is a bad thing. You can be run off a location and even worse, we could have lost the contract. Therefore, it was a big screw up that was because of imposter syndrome. I told myself a story that created a self-sabotage event. Within 2 months, I was back in a truck hating the fact that I failed yet I was in a familiar place again.
Imposters Syndrome is a story that can not only cause added stress and anxiety but can also cause you to fail. So, right off the bat feeling like an imposter and the feeling of being a fraud amps up the challenging times. If not, addressing the problem can cause you to shoot yourself in the foot. Imposter syndrome is a gateway emotion to the land of scarcity
One of the best pieces of advice I have received about why you are worthy of even trying is from a college writing class. He wanted the class to write about what they are good at, and he said, “We are all experts in somebody else’s eyes.” Meaning that all you have to be is a little better and other people will look to you for advice. Now, this is where the imposter syndrome will often raise its head. That is because we are not fully confident with our skillset.
Lack of confidence and fear of this new venture is the birthplace for the why me? Who would listen to what I have to say? With that fear and self-doubt, we end up putting trip hazards in our way. This only accentuates the feeling of being a fake and this will keep you from your dream.
Isn’t it good to be humble?
Being humble is an important trait to have. Nobody likes a braggart. However, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your skills. If you can come from a place of abundance as opposed to a mindset of scarcity, you will not come off as bragging. Someone who has a scarcity mindset will use what they do know and try to put all their weight behind that skill. They find it threatening if someone is as good or worse better than them in any set skill. This is because they don’t see the benefit it has to them if someone else can help.
If you have an abundant mindset you can be humble, and most people do that because they see the skills their team has and they can help lead them to the goals they are striving for. All while knowing that though they feel like an imposter they are also getting better.
Types of imposter syndrome
As everything in the world of coaching, People are different and so one size fits all blanket like imposter syndrome has different subsets. Melody Wilding from The Muse talks about the five main types of imposter syndrome. These pretty well fit most people but I have seen some people list this a few different times.
Now perfectionism is one of those forms of imposter syndrome that embraces the procrastination technique of being the perfectionist. They can’t allow themselves to put out less then what they perceive as being just right. If the project in front of them isn’t just right, they fear that they will not be seen as credible.
This does two things to the person one it gives them an excuse as to why they can’t just start. If they don’t get it just right, then everybody will think they are the fraud that they feel they are. This is a fear-based thought and with that fear, they will not launch. They are filled with a whole lot of What if’s, what if nobody reads my blog. What if I get a troll on my YouTube channel? What if, what if, what if?
Yet they ignore the biggest and best “what if” of all. What if it becomes a success? The perfectionist sees everything that’s wrong so they don’t start. I have known people who make up problems that have nothing to do with their project and use that as an excuse.
This is the over compensator. A prime example of a scarcity mindset, because if they don’t cover all the bases themselves then how is anybody going to know that they are worthy? The person who brags all the time often fits into this category. The Superman feels they have to prove that they know what they know. The only way they can do that is to take on every aspect of the job. Now, this is different than a person who is bootstrapping their business, because these guys know they need help just don’t feel that they can really afford that luxury of the extra help.
The guy who has the jacked-up pickup with straight pipes can often be seen as a person who is overcompensating or trying to be a superman.
Supermen often set themselves up for burnout. That is because you are in the end only a man. You can only do so much and if you don’t get the help, you need then burnout is eventual.
Mr. Know it all, the genius knows everything. They have to so they can prove that they are capable of taking the position they are pursuing. Many of those who are in this category also have a fixed mindset. If they are not naturally good in that field, they instantly give up. They avoid challenges because it could upset how they are trying to be perceived. The genius ignores the fact that they can learn something new, because if they have to learn then they aren’t worthy of the position they hold.
The Lone Wolf
Much like superman the hermit or the Lone Wolf doesn’t want people to be close to them out of fear that they will be exposed as a fraud. Many introverts suffer from this type of imposter syndrome. They fear being found out so they often pushing away those wanting to help. Their mantra is almost it is easier to do it myself. When in reality they can grow more if they allow others to come in and assist.
This is another fixed mindset imposter. This is the guy who has to one-up everybody else. If not then they will see through his perceived thinly veiled disguise of not knowing everything about his field. You probably know someone who is a professional conference attendee. They read everything they can find yet still don’t think they know enough to be competent.
Overcoming the imposter
Now as mentioned, we all feel as though we are out of our league. Yet if you know how to offset this feeling of inadequacies, you won’t stop the feelings but you will know how to accept them as just hanging out in the corner instead of grabbing the steering wheel and going off the cliff.
Be ok with failing
This is tough but again if you simply ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen you will see that it isn’t death. Even if you have someone call you a shyster, you can overcome that initial embarrassment and that isn’t the end of the world
Allow yourself some success
You did do a lot of good work so the success you have is payment for the job well done. Allow people to celebrate. Heck, allow yourself to celebrate. Light up that cigar and smile for the job well done.
Lean on your Mastermind group
First, if you don’t have a mastermind group, why not? There are many benefits to having a mastermind group. One is for you to bounce, your feelings of being an imposter, off these other folks so they can help shine some light on the limiting belief system you are telling yourself. If you need a mastermind group, you can look to the Conclave of Men like a good place to start.
Reminds yourself that though you are feeling like a fraud that you aren’t.
You will feel like you aren’t supposed to be at the level you are and that is ok. Yet, allowing that feeling to take hold and affect your results is not. Therefore, it is good to counteract the story you tell yourself by paying attention to what you are saying. If you say something like I don’t belong here. Correct yourself by saying, “No I do belong here.” Change your narrative and your mind will change. That thought will crop up like a bad weed from time to time especially when you advance to the next level. So you will have to stay on top of your thought garden.
Fake it until you make it
This last one gets many fix mindset people in a tizzy. That is because they don’t think you can nor should fake it. If you are faking it you are being fake. Again, this is more about rewiring your mindset and how you think of yourself. Act as if you have already made it will allow for you to better slide into that position. If you find yourself in that position act as if you have been there for a while. It may not be perfect but that is OK you are learning.
So are you an imposter? Are you occupying somebody else’s life? No, you are in your own skin and you are where you need to be. A new project is scary and that is a good thing. You grow when you are uncomfortable. So take this experience and make that anxiety you feel excitement as to what is to come. You will become stronger and more confident as you progress so don’t give up and don’t give in to the negative thoughts. Practice your gratitude lists and remind yourself that you earned the success you enjoy. Life gets better each day when you do.