The “Impostor Syndrome” is common even for those who have conquered the peak of their professional career. In this piece, you’ll find three methods to keep yourself motivated, focused, and become an effective leader.
It finally happens. The opportunity you’ve been dreaming of since you started your career is so close you can almost touch it. But instead of celebrating it, you feel miserable because you feel that you don’t deserve it.
Does this sound familiar?
You aren’t the only one.
The “Impostor Syndrome” is everywhere and makes all kinds of successful people feel like frauds.
John Steinbeck, who was awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Grapes of Wrath, confessed in his journal, “I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”
And the multiple film award winner Meryl Streep admitted in an interview, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing… You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent…”
And the list goes on.
The question is: Are you really a fraud? Are your achievements a result of luck? Do people overvalue your success?
While it might be difficult to accept that you’re facing intellectual self-doubt, you have two options: let it turn your life upside down or overcome it.
As Jim Henson said, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And surprisingly, joining this mind trap could be more beneficial than you think.
1. Overcome Complacency
If you feel like you could do more, then it might be time to do more. Have you ever seen someone achieve growth from her comfort zone? Your comfort zone might feel safe but is keeping you away from growth.
You can overcome complacency and step out of your comfort zone or you can wait until you’re forced to change by your own environment.
If you choose the second option, you won’t see the same success as those who decided to evolve early. However, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself for being a fraud and use those feelings to build a more optimal version of yourself, you might achieve results that you never even dreamed about.
2. Dare to be Different
Do you feel like anyone could do exactly the same as you? That you’re nothing special? Feeling like a fraud can destroy your self-esteem and affect your productivity.
While the root cause of the Impostor Syndrome is unclear, self-dissatisfaction is caused by social comparison. Sometimes society tells us, and we tell ourselves, that we don’t fit the mold. Stop trying to achieve what other people tell you to do and trying to measure yourself into someone else’s idea of success.
In order to change your mindset, you need to realize that being different also means thinking differently.
Ask yourself what makes you unique, rare, anomalous, or even one-of-a-kind.
It’s true that there are differences that simply suck, and it’s hard to find positives in them. However, although being different might seem scary and negative in some cases, it’s an advantage that can make you stand out from the crowd.
3. Embrace Pain
Our life experiences, both the painful and the joyful, shape the people we become. Just like positive emotions, pain is a necessary part of life that brings us closer to a deeper understanding of the world around us. Everybody, at one point or another, has their own struggles. However, it’s a personal decision how to let that pain shape us.
According to a study carried out by the University of Buffalo in 2010, “negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties.”
Having disruptive thoughts can be unpleasant and stressful. However, by allowing ourselves to feel pain and discomfort, we accept the truth of our situation and we give ourselves a chance to learn about it.
When we embrace a negative emotion, it’s easier to take control of our own circumstance again. On the other hand, hiding or avoiding our emotions involves shifting the burden to a bigger long-term problem like chronic stress, depression, or denying the truth.
Negative scenarios motivate us to act upon our current condition and make positive changes in our lives. In other words, adversity builds advantages.
About the Author
Loredana M. Munteanu is a Norway-based business analyst and founder of Viking Mark, a strategic marketing agency. She is passionate about strategy and helping leaders and brands to achieve growth in their industries.