Sarita Johan presenting Build your Core
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Imposter Syndrome: what is it and why does it happen?
In today’s show I will be chatting to you about Imposter Syndrome, why it happens and what can be done about it. It plagues many and can impede on one’s professional and life success.
Let’s first look at what the dictionary says, Definition of Impostor syndrome is as follows: “The persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved because of one's own efforts or skills”.
The way I like to describe it is not believing in your own ability and the feeling that you don’t deserve the success as you look at others and compare yourself as perhaps not being as intelligent or smart. It might even be a feeling that you are winging it and fearing anytime soon others will find you out and discover you are a fraud. This phenomenon is often found amongst high performers.
Hmmm what does this mean and what can be the impact of this to you and/or the people in your business? And why is this still a bit of a taboo to admit one has experienced this? This phenomenon lives is in the top 10 of areas I get to work on with my clients and I am quite ok to report I have gone through this phenomenon several times myself throughout my career, (even though I did not know this was taking place at the time but thanks to my support team it was identified early, addressed, and dealt with).
Has it ever returned? The answer is yes, the difference now is I know what to do with it, and this is mainly due to my growing level of self-awareness and being ok being as much of myself as I can be which also gets coined as authenticity.
Do you remember when you started your business, for some a long time ago for others perhaps more recent. You would have been excited as well as perhaps a bit anxious, worried, and perhaps questioning yourself, what if I am not good enough? What if people do not appreciate my products or services? What if I fail? These are some of the signs of imposter syndrome.
I wanted to take the time at the start of the season to speak about this topic. There is still some significant stigma around the Imposter Syndrome, being open and honest about self-doubt is not associated with strength or being capable. Somewhere, somehow the image was constructed that showing insecurities is a sign of weakness and when this occurs it can greatly impede on people's abilities to thrive.
To put things in perspective 70% of people in Business will at some point in time experience this, when looking at some of the most successful people you know or have heard of there is often a story within their success of a point in time when it hit them too.
So why does it happen and is it real?
It starts with our perception and can also be driven through lack of confidence. In my intro show last week I mentioned that in the early days when this phenomenon was discovered it was believed to be more prevalent amongst women then man, however fast forwarding, and many studies later it is clear it does not discriminate gender. The thing here is many go through it but will not admit it as it could be perceived as a weakness and combined with perhaps a not so strong self-image this is the perfect recipe for holding one back.The good news is you can do something about it or others that seem to be experiencing this.
How does it show up?
It often expresses itself as self-doubt and self-criticism. In terms of self-doubt, feelings such as fear of success (this is a real big one), fear of failure or simply not believing you deserve might show up. When dealing with self-criticism it could be around that I didn't do a good enough job, I did not deliver the project properly, I wasn't clear enough, strong enough, they are just saying that to make me feel good about myself etc. The Imposter Syndrome often shows up when we are reaching a peak of success, or we are starting something new, like a new business or venture, expansion, something that exposes you somehow. And when it strikes you might put in a crazy amount of time to make sure nobody finds out about your weakness.
Some examples of how this can show up for the individual
I often refer to the duck on the water image, on the surface it all looks calm and collected but underneath the frantic peddling is taking place and is costing the individual.
Now your team can experience this too. So as an executive, business owner, CEO it is important to keep a vigilant eye out and recognise if your team is experiencing any of the above too, some other examples of how this could show up in your team.
Let’s explore the steps you can take to manage
1. Acknowledge it
Firstly, allow yourself to acknowledge what is going on for you, a really good way of doing so is to write it out of your head, self-reflection is incredibly powerful. There is something about putting pen to paper and seeing what is actually going on versus what you might think is going on. Just because you think it does not always mean it is true.
2. Be prepared to invest in vulnerable conversations
Imposter Syndrome is not one of those topics we volunteer to speak about, yet I have not met someone that has not been pestered with self-doubt before. What is our obsession with being seemingly perfect? In your business it is important to create a culture that provides safety and trust so that you and your team can identify and support each other. It is a great learning opportunity and acknowledges people can work to their strengths, furthermore by creating that level of authenticity in your organisation and trust it is a great way of not only attracting but also retaining your talent. When people show up as who they are they get to do their best work.
3. Check in regular with your current beliefs and habits
Is the way you think habitual or through a set of beliefs that might no longer serve you? A belief is something we no longer question. In conversation with clients one of the areas of focus is exploring where their level of focus is, are they aware and what is causing the self-doubt, if unaware how do we bring it to the forefront so we can work with it. A simple tool I use with my clients is the perception model, what is the area that causes you to question yourself, how does this make you feel, what would you like it to be like.
4. Understand Your Strengths and lesser developed areas Doing an analysis of what your true natural strengths are can be a true game changer. Understanding what they are can provide you and the team with new found clarity and openly being ok with discussing the difficult topic at hand. Discuss it with people you trust first and then share it with a wider group. Invest in becoming more self-aware and then ask for feedback from others. If you are interested in finding out ways to do so e-mail me on email@example.com
5. Fire the need for perfection Setting a clear direction, who do you need to support you to help you out, who can you delegate to? This is a big one, the need to cover everything off and control outcomes is nearly impossible, it creates overwhelm and is far from allowing us to achieve good outcomes. Appreciate and accept you will make mistakes (some bigger than others) and rather than seeing it as a negative embrace it as another way of learning and growing. Overcome perfectionist behaviour habits reviewing what you are doing and why you are doing it, self inquiry here can become your best friend.In summary, Let’s not brush this topic off, it is time to make it part of the conversation and use it as an opportunity for growth and development. As a Business owner, executive, CEO creating a culture where conversations like these can be held safely and without judgment will in turn create an environment for trust and innovation. Often feeling like this means you might be confusing your hard work paying off with just a bit of luck. If this is a persistent issue in your life, seek professional support, this is highly common and solutions are available.
"The Imposter Cure: How to Stop Feeling Like a Fraud and Escape the Mind-Trap of Imposter Syndrome," by Dr Jessamy Hibberd, is published by Aster, part of the Hachette group.
12 Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Celebrities Who Have Struggled With Imposter Syndrome https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/304273
About the show host
“Sarita Johan brings more than 30 years of Business experience. After spending her career climbing the corporate ladder, running her own businesses and juggling family and relationships – she doesn’t just talk the talk she’s walked the walk.SJ Coaching was born out of the desire to be more. A snapped femur, financial hardship, and a broken marriage led Sarita to completely redesign her life.
Sarita walked away from her high-profile career, invested in self-development and became a NLP Master Practitioner and ADVanced Innermetrix consultant which has allowed her to deeply understand how people think and make decisions. Because of that Sarita is able to deliver a holistic solution for those in business, teaching people to become more conscious of the fact that we are not our business and the need to consider all areas of life. Her unique blend of business and mindset coaching empowers her clients to identify their business blind spots and success blocks so they can prosper in both business and life”.
If you’d like to understand more about how you can improve your people performance in your Dynamic Partnerships or teams then click on the link here. To schedule in time for a 20 minute power chat or simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarita specialises in coaching for People in Business with:
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Written by Sarita Johan
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