Imposter syndrome - how to put it in perspective
If you have ever felt like an imposter at work, you are not alone.
To put it simply, imposter syndrome is defined as the experience of feeling like you don’t really belong where you are, and you only got there through luck.
It is a condition in which successful people credit their successes to luck, being in the right place at the right time, or anything other than their ability, hard work and perseverance.
To move past these feelings, you need to become comfortable confronting some of these beliefs that you hold about yourself.
Take a degree of comfort from the fact that the most successful people are likely to have had these thoughts at one time or another.
Literally millions of people go through superstitious rituals to ensure that their presentations go well, that their meetings are a success and that they are able to get their deals over the line.
Many will also listen to a particular song or album, drive the same route or wear their ‘lucky socks’, instead of believing in themselves.
Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘Strategies to cope with imposter feelings include talking about what you are experiencing, questioning your negative thoughts, and avoiding comparing yourself to others.
‘A key tip to help counter the feeling is to focus on others and help those who may be in the same situation as you. If you see someone who seems awkward or alone, ask that person a question to bring them into the group. As you practice your skills, you will build confidence in your own abilities.’
Similarly, it is important to celebrate success.
When things go wrong it is tempting to extensively analyse what happened, as opposed to things go well, when we tend to simply move on to the next thing on our to-do lists.
But it is during periods of success that it is essential to pause, breathe in and enjoy the victory moment.
While many of us align success with a hard-working career, we are more likely to celebrate success in our personal lives. And even if we are able to congratulate each other at work when it comes to big issues, we are less good at celebrating the smaller week-to-week wins that enable steady overall growth.
Create a safe environment with family members, friends or colleagues, where you can share the imposter feelings, successes, and prop each other up when things are tough.
This doesn’t have to be a big undertaking – simply invite two or three people whom you trust. As a way of keeping in touch on the issue, consider setting up a Skype Room or a Google Hangout and schedule a meeting every month or quarterly.
Author: Alex Miller, writer
This article was first published in Student Accountant in April 2022