Do you have imposter syndrome? Take this quiz and find out:
- Do you chalk your success up to luck, God, timing, or computer error?
- Do you believe “If I can do it, anybody can”?
- Do you agonize over even the smallest flaws in your work?
- Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, seeing it as evidence of your “ineptness?”
- When you do succeed, do you secretly feel like you fooled them again?
- Do you worry that it’s just a matter of time before you’re “found out?”
If you answered yes to these questions then according to one article, you are in good company.
Maya Angelou, Tina Fey, Sonia Sotomayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Dr. Margaret Chan have all admitted to having this syndrome. If you aren't familiar with those names then let me give you their accolades. A presidential medal of freedom winning poet, a comedic actress, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, the COO of Facebook, and the Director of the World Health Organization have all talked about how the imposter syndrome have affected their lives. These women represent a broad range of industries yet they all think,
"One day someone is going to find out that I don't know what they think I know".
Imposter syndrome is the fear that one day you'll be found out to be a fake. Unless you really are leading a secret double life, for most people this fear is unfounded. In fact, women are more likely then men to have imposter syndrome. Executive Life Coach and author Margie Warrell explains the syndrome and how to overcome it in this 4 minute interview.
How imposter syndrome is hurting your advancement?
You don't take the right risks. The fear of being found out actually makes one very brave. It takes courage to shrink back and pursue opportunities that will keep your secret safely tucked away. What might this look like in real life? You want a promotion in your organization but you are afraid to apply because it will mean more exposure to senior leadership and secretly you are afraid they'll discover you don't really know what you're doing and be disappointed in hiring you. Sooooo...instead, you fight like crazy to get someone else promoted or noticed. You become their advocate. You find the courage to talk to senior leadership on their behalf. You go the extra mile for them. It's a risk to take those steps, yet, you are not bold for yourself, but for another because of this imposter syndrome.
Never satisfied. In the Prince song, When Doves Cry, he says,"Maybe I'm just like my mother. She's never satisfied." Is this true for you? Could your kids say this about you? The imposter syndrome permanently disables you from feeling satisfied. As Warrell, notes in her interview, you set such high standards that no one, not even you, can reach them. Therefore, if you have an expectation that can never be met you will be permanently dissatisfied in your life. Dissatisfaction shows up at work dressed as "why bother?". People with a "why bother" attitude rarely get promoted.
You already feel the dread, drain, and fear of this syndrome. What would it mean to you if you could stop this limited syndrome's operation in your life?
I remember the day I discovered I could evict imposter syndrome from my pysche. I was talking to my good friend Carrie and it dawned on me. I had never taken an objective look at my successes. EVER! I assumed I didn't have any success because all I could see was how things could have been improved. I was pacing on my patio when I felt a sudden warmth as I realized that the way I saw myself--broken, afraid, and fake--was not the way my God saw me. I then made myself write down all my successes. It was the first time I saw the power of being able to see myself clearly. The exercise is so powerful I make all my clients do it in our work together.
Here's what I want you to get from this article and story...lean in...it's going to be good! Ready?
You can overcome this syndrome but you can't do it alone.
My friend Carrie was a great listener and encourager as my mind and my mouth flew at break neck speed as I processed this. The reason I coach successful women is because you need an advocate to say "it's OK" and a trusted adviser to help you take the next step. It's one thing to say, "oh that's me!" It's a quite another to work to do something about it. You can't do that work alone. I can help you.
If you know you have this issue and are ready to stop hiding and to start casting off the weight of not being able to recognize your value and worth, and to start taking the right risks and feeling content, maybe for the first time in your life, then I invite you to schedule a 30 minute chat with me. It't free so you have nothing to lose.