It is reported that 99 out of 100 leaders around the globe have felt like an imposter at some stage in their career. During these moments, leaders feel that they are not worthy of the position and title that they have been granted. They may be able to put on a good face in front of those they are meant to lead, but inside they are wrought with confusion and struggle to handle the responsibility that they have been given. If this is the position that you currently find yourself in, you definitely should not feel alone. In fact, you are in good company. However, the trick is to overcome these feelings and begin living like the empowered leader that you are destined to be.
Everyone Suffers from the Imposter Syndrome
The first key to enjoying an empowered life, as a leader, is to realize that everyone suffers from the imposter syndrome at one time or another in his or her life. The higher up you move in the world, the more likely you are to encounter these feelings. You need to remember that you are not alone. In fact, it is fear such as this that can really drive you to ultimate success within your position. Imagine being a university professor who is asked to give a lecture to corporate businessmen in the area, many of whom have many years more of experience in the field than you do. You might feel that you are not worthy of such an honor, particularly if you are just getting your start in the world of academia.
In the scenario presented above, you might very well be able to stand up in front of those business people, put on your most confident smile, and give them the lecture of your life. That will do little to ease the anxiety of the moment, and it certainly does little to take away your insecurity, but it can do wonders for your career. Herein lies the secret – everyone starts out as a novice. Even you. It is important to gain confidence as a leader, and the only way to do that is to occasionally jump right with the wolves regardless of whether or not you are actually just a cub. The day will come when you shed the imposter syndrome and become an experienced leader that you know possesses the knowledge and foresight that is actually contained in your bio.
Get Rid of the Negativity Bias
Another way to overcome the imposter syndrome is to stop focusing on the negativity that exists all around you. As a leader, you will receive countless positive and negative comments all day long, both from those on your team and your supervisors. It is human nature to focus on the negative comments received, while quickly forgetting the positive. This is precisely why you need to reverse that mentality. Make it a practice to focus on those positive thoughts that lift you up and brighten your day. Cherish those and bring them to the forefront of your mind. Then, when you are feeling less than worthy, you will end up giving yourself a bit of a pick me up.
You want to make a habit out of internalizing your success. You obviously have done something right to gain the position that you have. Whenever you do something positive for your team, or you meet a certain goal or receive an accolade, internalize it. You want to remember the many ways that you have actually helped your team when those feelings of self-doubt begin to creep into your mind. This will help you to see how your leadership has actually contributed to the success of a project or to the entire organization in some way. There will certainly be some negativity that comes your way, and some of it might even be deserved, but the key is to learn from those experiences and focus on the positive.
Keep Good Company
The old adage that one bad apple ruins the bunch definitely rings true in the world of leadership. If you keep the company of negative people who only seem to be focused on tearing you down and questioning your every move, it is no wonder that you feel like an imposter. Instead, you want to spend your time with people who build you up, help you to see your strengths, and work with you in a strategic way to help you improve upon your weaknesses. We are talking about attitude here. Spending time with good people will give you the type of positive attitude that you need to be a winner in life. That is what you are after, and this is a way to make a pronounced move in that direction.
A Little Self Doubt can be a Good Thing
If you have ever met somebody that truly believes that they are always right, you realize that they couldn’t be farther from the truth. While we are talking here about you shedding the imposter syndrome that has invaded nearly ever leader’s life at some point, it is also important to note that a little self-doubt can be a good thing. When we doubt ourselves, we push ourselves to be and do better. If we think that we have already arrived at perfection, all we are doing is setting ourselves up for failure. If we are too self confident, we can also begin to believe that we do not need to work as hard to accomplish important tasks that require nothing less than our full attention. This is when poor performance begins to become commonplace, and those negative comments that come your way as a result will actually be justified. Just don’t overdo. Be confident in your abilities, but also allow that little voice in your head that questions your ability to guide you to double check your work and it make sure that it is your very best.
Stop Worrying About the Thoughts of Others
You might be the type of person who constantly worries about what others are thinking about them. The funny thing about thoughts is that the person thinking them is the only person who knows what they are! You can worry until the cows come home, but you will not be any closer to knowing what others are thinking about you. Instead, focus on what you know to be true. Those are the comments that others have directed your way, and the results that you have delivered. This is how you will build up your confidence, and it will happen over time. It is true that others may be thinking that you are too young or inexperienced for the job. So what? You know what your abilities are, so just go out there and prove them wrong. That is a much better use of your energy than wasting your time worrying what others are thinking.
These strategies will help you shed the imposter syndrome that is keeping you back from being the empowered leader that is within you. Be confident in who you are and strive to continually serve your team and your organization to the best of your abilities. This will help you gain confidence over time and eliminate those feelings of self-doubt that creep in.
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