If you suspect that you suffer from Imposter Syndrome – not believing that you deserve your position or relationship, or feeling like at any moment you’re going to be exposed as a fraud – you need to read this for the dangerous ways that Imposter Syndrome is holding you back.
As a scientist, I’ve been honored to have the opportunity to train some of the top leaders and CEOs across the globe, and it wasn’t rare that I found myself in a room where I didn’t exactly feel like I belonged. They all knew so much…I was definitely not cut out to be advising them! This, my friends, is a tell-tale sign of Imposter Syndrome! It is so easy to slide into Imposter Syndrome tendencies, so I wanted to share a few ways to spot Imposter Syndrome showing up in your own life so that you can smush that little voice telling you that you don’t belong. Let’s dive right in!
Symptom #1: You avoid even trying!
What can often be mistaken for apathy is really a deep-seated fear of failure. Rather than putting yourself fully out there and risking not achieving a goal, it’s easier to just avoid going all in to begin with. This coping mechanism ensures we will always have that excuse that if we don’t meet our high standards, well, we didn’t really try anyway.
Symptom #2: You’re always the last to leave the office or the first to arrive.
I remember in a job I worked, no matter what time I arrived (sometimes as early as 5am!) and no matter how late I stayed (some nights it could be as late as 7pm), there was always another employee who seemingly never left his desk. It’s clear to me now it really wasn’t that he had that much more work than I did, but it was that he had a serious case of Imposter Syndrome. Workaholics overcompensate at their job so no one can tell them that they aren’t doing enough or that they aren’t good enough. GO HOME! No one is tracking your hours nearly as closely as you are. If you’re a professional, you’re getting the job done, and that’s what matters. Stop glorifying busy – that’s not what makes you valuable!
Symptom #3: Procrastination!
Procrastination is often misunderstood as a sign of laziness or lack of self-control. It turns out procrastination is a coping mechanism a lot of us use to deal with challenging emotions like anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, and self-doubt. We put things off because we don’t want to expose ourselves as being a fraud or being less than perfect. Perfectionism and procrastination tend to go hand in hand: “If I can’t do it perfectly, why should I even bother starting? Failure will invoke criticism and ridicule, which I know because I’m not worthy. After all, I don’t belong here…” So the viciousness of this cycle of perfectionism and procrastination prevails to the benefit of none.
Symptom #4: Assigning blame.
When we already feel like we’re holding on by our fingernails to the position that we’re in, we tend to blame others when things go wrong. We can’t accept responsibility when we don’t feel safe, when we feel like we constantly have to prove ourselves. Imagine what would happen if you could let go of your fears of failure.
Until next time, live more, fear less!