Put your hands up if you think you are a fraud
I was lucky enough to participate in the “Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses” course a few years ago, and Jonathon Lawson who was the lead speaker said, “put your hands up if you think you’re a fraud” to our cohort of around 60 SME’s (small/medium enterprises).
Every single one of us raised our hands.
Because I think, particularly when you are running an SME, you are required to take on such a range of jobs like leadership, recruitment, marketing, HR, there is no way you can be an expert at them all.
There are bound to be times when you feel like you are not qualified to make the decisions you are required to make.
The history of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome was a phenomenon recognised in the early ’70s and at the time was attributed primarily to the arts.
Suzanne Imes and Dr Pauline Rose Clance first identified imposter syndrome in 5 different forms:
- The Perfectionists – those who always everything thing to be done 100% correctly. They find it hard to delegate and often refuse to let people help them.
- The Superhero – these people believe they have to work harder and longer than everyone else to compensate for their lack of confidence in themselves.
- The Expert – they seek external gratification of their abilities like qualifications or industry recognition in order to reassure them that they are good at their job.
- The Natural Genius – someone who is a natural at what they are good at but will avoid anything they feel that might fail at.
- The Soloist – they don’t need anyone else and work better independently. They don’t want to work as part of a team.
Most of us at time feel like imposters in some way, shape or form. I guess the reality is that the feeling of not fitting in, is entirely natural, as none of us are born with the skills and knowledge required to excel at every role in life.
I feel like Imposter Syndrome is an experience of feeling like a phoney and that you dread that you might be discovered to be a fraud in a situation where you might have relied on dumb luck.
The truth is, you are in that position because the skills you have, have got you there. Luck might have a part to play but it doesn’t mean you are an imposter; it just means you have more to learn.
Imposter Syndrome is something most of us will encounter at some point in our careers. It isn’t anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to celebrate as it means you are pushing yourself and your boundaries.
If all you want to do is be comfortable with what you are doing, just butter bread. If you want to grow in your career, then you have to accept that there will be times when you feel like an imposter.
What can you do if you are feeling like an imposter?
There are a few things you can do if you feel like an imposter.
Firstly, you can just accept it. It’s natural and happens to almost all of us. Only the most narcissistic human beings would never feel this way.
Secondly, you can celebrate it. That feeling of having Imposter Syndrome means you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, achieving new things and learning new skills.
You can work with your peers to get feedback and help. Remembering that most people are out there to help you, “pronoia”. Make sure you are open to feedback and adapt to what people are telling you.
Lastly, remember that it’s all a learning curve. The “Cycle of Consciousness” is one you can learn from. Don’t compare yourself to others. You will get there and soon you won’t feel like an imposter!
We should relish the chance to learn and grow as human beings and if you feel like a fake…join the rest of us!
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Check out our other blogs in the “Lessons from Leaders” series below!