"I don't know what I'm doing."
How often do you have that feeling? Whether it's a new project we have been given to lead or a major presentation we are expected to deliver, as women, we will find ourselves in a mini-state of panic because we feel ill-equipped for these opportunities. "Imposter Syndrome", officially identified in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, is that nagging and destructive mindset of inferiority that keeps whispering:
"You don't know what you're talking about."
"You don't deserve this success."
"You're a fraud."
This self-doubt is what keeps us from pursuing our dream jobs, advocating for ourselves, showcasing our expertise in the workplace, negotiating for the money we deserve, and even launching the businesses we are passionate about. But before we take that negative energy into 2020, here are 3 ways to kick imposter syndrome to the curb:
1. Reflect on how you got here.
Unless you have a fairy godmother who has handed you every single opportunity to date, you have had to work and earn your way through your career. You had to complete your degree, you had to wow interviewers, you had to demonstrate your knowledge and experience to be assigned your current role in the first place. When I feel imposter syndrome creeping in, I tend to ask myself the seemingly silly but honest question, "If I truly were a fraud, wouldn't someone have figured it out by NOW?"
And reflect the achievements that you have realized over the course of your career. Those didn't happen by chance. No one else put the work in and just signed your name at the bottom. You had to dig your heels in and get it done yourself. Accept the fact that you have had an active role in your success thus far, and you truly belong where you are right now.
2. Eliminate comparisons.
Part of what will keep you doubting your own abilities is the comparison with other people next to you. "Stacy is five years younger than me, and look at what she's doing. She knows way more than I do. I'll just let her lead the project instead." "Kevin just got here last month, and he's already wowing management. There's no way for me to compete with him."
STOP IT. What someone else knows has nothing to do with what you know. What someone else has done cannot diminish what you can or have already accomplished. Don't sell yourself or your expertise short because you are looking to the left and right instead of straight ahead. Never forget that you are the powerhouse that has been selected because of the results and value that only YOU can consistently deliver.
3. Use imposter syndrome to show out!
You're probably thinking "Girl whet? I thought imposter syndrome was a bad thing." Yes it is, if you allow it to simmer and hinder you. But you can actually turn that negative energy into a positive push to take your performance to the next level.
Let me tell you a quick story. When I was assigned to lead a major cross-functional project in my first finance position, I left the director's office scared to death. I honestly had no idea why she picked me, and I was pretty sure I was going to fail miserably. To be completely transparent, I was literally shaking at my desk. So I got up, went to the bathroom, and gave myself a quick pep talk, "You can either fail and prove yourself right or you can knock this project out of the park and prove yourself wrong. What's it gonna be?" Right then, I chose the latter. Fast forward to the end of the project, I saved the company $4M and I received a promotion.
It is up to you to control your mindset and where you allow it to take you. It is up to you to speak positively to yourself and make the decision right now that imposter syndrome can either limit you or empower you to be the boss chick you already know you are. So, I'm asking you the same question I asked myself 11 years ago when I took on that project: "What's it gonna be?"