Imposter Syndrome, something we are all too familiar with.
Have you ever felt inadequate? Suffered from self-doubt? Feared a question in meeting? Felt like you shouldn’t be in the room? Questioned why you even stepped on the career path you are on?
Then you’re not alone.
Many women (and men) experience the constant, nagging feeling they’re going to be unmasked as a fraud at any minute. Despite overwhelming evidence saying otherwise. It’s a phenomenon that blights most people – and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.
Welcome to Imposter Syndrome – the data
The term Imposter Syndrome came into my vocabulary over the last few years. Perhaps unsurprisingly since I started to progress up the career ladder. I started seeing articles in magazines and recommended reads on Linkedin. Then this year at the Best You Expo, people offering coaching for Imposter Syndrome and most recently a podcast/instagram page called The Imposters Club (find them on insta @theimpostersclub).
Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the “imposter syndrome” in 1978 when they were studying successful women who believed they were not worthy of their achievements. Their definition:
A feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” These people also “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.”
The Independent study stated it found a third of millennials experience self-doubt at work, with 40% of women saying they felt intimidated by senior people, compared to 22% of men asked.
According to HR news ‘Imposter Syndrome has impacted a whopping 62% of people at work, according to a report by Access Commercial Finance. The survey of over 3000 adults in the UK shows over two-thirds of women (66%) have suffered from imposter syndrome compared to over half of men (56%) within the last 12 months’.
The Telegraph reported that research showed that 28% of working women feel like imposter syndrome has stopped them speaking in a meeting. It also found 21% have been prevented from suggesting a new or alternative idea at work, and 26% have failed to change career or role.
In a WITI article, it stated that research eventually showed a majority of people (70%) will experience imposter syndrome at some point in life, often during transitional times.
In 2011, a study published in Human Relations questioned 60,000 full-time workers on their attitudes toward male versus female bosses. 72% of those who expressed a bias towards gender, wanted a male manager. (That was back in 2011!).
In one of my most recent articles Please mind the (gender pay) gap I explored the well documented topic, of men being paid more than women. I refer to this, because I see a similar pattern. There does not seem to be an equal balance to the feelings towards Imposter Syndrome. With Women showing 10-20% higher results in feeling like a fraud then compared to men. Perhaps Human Relations has a point! Companies are very bias towards one gender, which could be impacting the behaviours and progression of women.
‘It is crucial to remember that women are not born feeling less-than. But if you are continually treated as though you are, you eventually internalise it. And this is not merely a synonym for low confidence – imposter syndrome is the logical outcome of a world that was never designed for women to be successful. It is time we stopped seeing the problem as being women’s refusal to believe in themselves and rather a world that actively refuses to believe in women’. *The Guardian Yomi Adegoke.
With the facts and figures of Imposter Syndrome explored, as a career coach I wanted to provide you with a some useful suggestions to help combat that feeling. That feeling of being a fraud.
6 Imposter Syndrome Hacks
Capture all your achievements and remember the positive results. A degree, a career change and/or running a 5K. Whether a photo around your house or on your desktop – make sure they are visible so you can see them.
Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to either. I like to ask for 360 feedback. It is a process where your manager, your peers and direct reports and sometimes even customers can evaluate you. Ask 3 simple questions – What should I start doing? (This will capture what you need to do) What should I stop doing? (This will give you something to work on) and What should I continue to do? (This is your positive feedback that you can save in your brag list).
Remember it is more than OK to ask questions, put your hand up and say ‘I don’t know’ – you are not expected to know everything.
Find ways to manage the Imposter Monster when it takes centre stage in your head. When you start hearing ‘You can’t’ find a way to turn that into a ‘CAN’.
Find allies both in work and in your friendship circles. When you start using self-doubting language ask your allies to use a code word like ‘pineapple’ 🍍 to bring you back in the room and capture the moment you started to doubt yourself? Perhaps at this point you may want to keep a diary so you can start to build any patterns and recognise any triggers.
Listen to podcasts, speak to friends, colleagues and family members about Imposter Syndrome. You will be surprised in how many people are willing to share their stories and you will truly realise you are not alone.
Do you have story of Imposter Syndrome? Have you been in combat with the fear of being found out? Or maybe you have suggestion on improving self doubt. Comment below your thoughts.
Would you like to explore more ways of beating the Imposter Syndrome dragon?
Working with me, as your career coach, we can build successful resilience methods to slay that dragon! I get it, I have encountered so many challenges within my career from lack of support or access to coaching, to bad company cultures with glass ceilings and, of course, the gender pay gap. All leading, to me, once experiencing and suffering imposter syndrome with self-doubt… Yet have found and grasped opportunities to slay, shine and progress.
Book your free 30 minute Discovery Call with me to find out more:
But who are you? It is time that you take a lesson from the brands in the public domain, to learn and understand – what it takes to stand out and prosper!
What’s does personal branding mean?
“In short, it’s your reputation. Each interaction you have with others has the opportunity to create a memorable experience, teaching them what they can expect from you. When you’re consistent in delivering those experiences, you build a strong reputation. Delivering your brand clearly and consistently across a wide audience helps open doors to opportunities. Your brand becomes your personal calling card—a unique promise of value; a distinct and authentic representation of you. In building your personal brand, you will define your individuality, maximise your strengths and manage your choices now to create future opportunities.”
Remember: Regardless of age, position, business and title we are all CEO’s of our own companies: Me Inc.
Questions to get you started
What are my values?
What are my strengths?
What are my interests?
Why should someone hire me?
What are the areas I need to approve on?
What object could I use to give a visual to my meaning?
What other brands do I like? Why?
What brands do I hate? Why?
If someone looked at your LinkedIn page, what would they know about you?
Does how you dress mirror who you are?
Tools and resources you can use
(Some bullet points are links, so hover over so don’t miss out)
The elevator pitch is a brief but persuasive sales speech that you use to spark interest in who you are and what you stand for. In practice, a good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator floor hop which is around 20 to 30 seconds… hence the name.
Using the work you have done with answering the questions set out above, form a few sentences that you can use for an elevator pitch.
I am a business coach for new female entrepreneurs. I offer structured and affordable programs to help them put doubt and anxiety aside, build their entrepreneurial skills and confidence, and create a business they love that delivers the results they desire.
Very few careers offer the opportunity to support chemical weapons demilitarization one minute and vineyard marketing the next. At A. Bright Idea, we do that and more. We offer strategic communications services for industries of all types. What started as one person’s vision, transformed into a full-service, coast-to-coast creative playground. With experts in PR, advertising, graphic design and interactive, A. Bright Idea helps organizations achieve goals.
My name is Bridgett McGowen, and I am a professional speaker at BMcTALKS. I help professional women who want to speak with power and executive presence but who do not want to waste time reading books and watching videos that cannot give them real and honest feedback on their presentation skills.
(New Year’s) resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those things that you have wanted to change and annoying failed to start like you said you would make tomorrow, next week, next month and even next year!
Well, now’s your chance to sit down and prepare a list of things you want to do, changes and succeed in your new year/new day/new week/new month.
This is my mini guide to creating and smashing your (New Year’s) Resolutions. It’s a well known fact that most people break their New Year’s resolutions within the first week of January and this is because the goals require too much immediate change.
It’s difficult to make a drastic change to your already embedded daily routine. However, that’s where the Kaizen method can help you succeed — by breaking down your larger goal into smaller, more manageable steps that you can implement over a longer time period until your goal is slowly achieved.
Resolution: Saving Money.
If you want to save more money, maybe it’s to buy a car, your first home or simply go on your dream holiday. Start by saving a small amount each month– something you don’t think you will really notice. If you can automate it too, that would be even better. If you put into a savings account £50 once a month without noticing the decrease in your pay, you can gradually increase the amount every few months until your saving pot has grown and you’re on your way to achieving that goal.
Think about a tiny change you can make to work your way toward that goal. Whether the goal is lose weight, be stronger or just to be able to keep up with the kids!
To keep yourself from turning to fast food on your lunch break (which is also spending money), begin by packing your lunch one day per week. After a month, you could increase to two days per week and add in a lunchtime walk. Remember, smaller changes are easier to swallow, this is a lifestyle change to be maintained.
Resolution: Enhance your career.
So you want to be earning double your salary, receive your full bonus and be qualified, like over qualified. Great aspirations, let’s break that down.
Is it time to invest in a career coach? Working with as your Career Coach, is like having your very own personal branding team. We can look at creating a clear and concise career goals as well as building your personal brand.
It was reported that 73% of British workers took time out of work because of stress in the work place… and 19% quit on the spot!
From Lack of support and excessive workload. To poor company culture and incompetent colleagues. There are many factors that lead to stress. I explore how work related stress impacts your and how we can implement some remedies to alleviate the excessive pressures.
HSE’s formal definition of work-related stress is: “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”
Although stress is a state more than an illness, however, it is worth noting that if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged – mental and physical illness may develop.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as mistakes and errors.
Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business. From looking into this topic further as well as discussing this at my networking group, it was found that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.
Pressures at work compared to stress caused because of work has a clear difference: Pressure can be positive, motivating factor in someone’s career, and is often essential. It can help us achieve our goals as well as perform better.
Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive.
Stress affects people in different ways and what one person finds stressful can be normal to another. With each new situation a person will decide what the challenge is and whether they have the resources to cope. If they decide they don’t have the resources, they will begin to feel stressed. How they appraise the situation will depend on various factors, including:
Background and culture
Skills and experience
Ethnicity, gender, age or disability
Just like how people are affected by stress, the ways of managing can be different for each individual. It is all well and good to talk about a work life balance, however what people really need are tools and techniques to help them.
How to alleviate work related stress can be managed by:
Talking to your manager, colleague or HR. There is no shame in saying that the current pressures that are on you are causes you to feel stressed. It is always best to take some examples with you that include situation when you have felt stressed or document you current work load to show your manager. By talking, you are highlighting the problem. You never know, you might be able to recruit a junior to support you.
Get a priority list together. Have you ever used a Kanban board? Such a great way to visually see what you need to do and what you have achieved. (also GREAT for reporting) You can use Trello which is a free online tool.
Be part of a culture change. Do you have an idea to help improve team performance? an Idea on how to feel calmer at work? Maybe introduce a well-being Wednesday? Be the change you want to see.
Change your job or career direction. This one will take more time and planning. However, if you really are struggling this might be the option.
Have a break. Stop, put down your work phone and be present with your family and friends.
Exercise! Make time to go for a walk/run. Go to that gym class. Getting out helps clear the mind, looking after yourself will help with all aspects of your life and your mental health.
Do you have a story of stressed caused by work? Or do you have any suggestions of remedies? Comment below to share.