- June 5, 2019
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Business
I hear from a lot of people about their struggles with Impostor Syndrome, the fear that you’re not good enough for the job you’re supposed to do, and that you’re going to be discovered and outed as a fraud.
The truth is the people who get Impostor Syndrome are not actual impostors. If anything, they’re eminently qualified and more than capable of doing the job; their nervousness and insecurity actually drives them to do a better job.
To make matters worse, they can’t tell anyone they have Impostor Syndrome because that would reveal their fraudulence and expose them as fakes anyway. So they silently stew in their fears and unease all by themselves.
I know I can’t dispel it just by telling you, but just know that most of the time, this is all just in your head. It’s not a reality or a true reflection of your abilities. You’re more than capable of doing the job, or they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place.
(So go do great things!)
How I Have Dealt With Impostor Syndrome
Even I had to struggle with my own feelings of Impostor Syndrome.
And like I just mentioned, I didn’t feel like I could (or should) talk about it, in case I made myself vulnerable.
It doesn’t help that I am so intensely private that, as a business leader, I always believed I did not have the right to burden my colleagues and teammates with my personal problems. Instead, it was my responsibility to look after theirs.
(In many ways, the old saying is true: It’s lonely at the top.)
But there are other considerations for executives in a business setting. For one thing, you have to be careful about how vulnerable you make yourself look because some shark is going to exploit that vulnerability and use it to climb over you.
Of course, my business philosophy has always been to run toward a problem rather than away from it. So if someone wanted to try exploit my weakness, I would often go on the attack first. That helped me avoid a lot of problems because people knew I would attack rather than defend, and they didn’t want to be on the receiving end.
I also felt like expressing those vulnerabilities would have caused concern in the people who liked and respected me. In my mind, I knew these people would always be there to help me, but at the same time, I figured they would want to feel like I was above such things.
I’ve always been a bit Victorian in the sense: Part of it is being British, part of it could be chalked up to my age. But I’ve always had that idea ingrained in me: Never let them see you sweat. Get up earlier, work longer. Run farther, work harder. And do it more than anyone else.
I’m pretty sure I could have shared my vulnerabilities to those I was close to, and they wouldn’t have been judgmental, but I experience Stiff Upper Lip Syndrome more than I did Impostor Syndrome.
So who can you talk to about your Impostor Syndrome? CEO/C-Level mastermind groups are a great place for that, and I’ll talk more about them in my next blog article.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
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