Written by: Sarah Jones, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
We’ve all been there. You’ve done the yard hards, put your all into establishing a career, made sacrifices, sharpened your skills, and overcome strenuous learning curves to get where you are today. You’ve established yourself as a professional, an expert, a leader. You have the talent, the expertise. You’ve earned your place, and yet you can’t escape the feeling that it’s all been a fluke. The doubt snowballs into crippling and inherently irrational insecurity. For some absurd reason, you feel like you don’t deserve to be here, and at any moment, the world will discover that you’re a fraud.
The good news is that you’re not alone. Around 70% of professionals suffer from Imposter Syndrome. And while self-doubt can be a positive sign that you’re passionate about your career, a bad case of Imposter Syndrome may spiral into a self-fulfilling prophecy, affecting your confidence and getting in the way of what’s most important—doing the work you love.
The first step is to identify the signs. This may present as a nagging feeling that your best isn’t good enough—and never will be. You may feel that your colleagues are just waiting for you to make a mistake. You may obsessively compare yourself to others or react with heightened sensitivity to criticisms. The signs include discomfort with praise and an inability to speak out for fear of making mistakes and being humiliated.
It’s highly worth exploring the roots of these issues, which stem from childhood wounds. When young children are mocked or scorned despite their best efforts, they often develop a complex around achievement that echoes throughout their adult lives, manifesting as Imposter Syndrome. They become haunted by the illusion of perfectionism, doubling their efforts, and still end up feeling inadequate.
Although more women suffer from this complex, men are not immune. Imposter Syndrome is extremely common with young professionals, who are especially sensitive to criticism at the start of their careers. At an age when you should be making mistakes and failing upwards, overwhelming self-doubt can inhibit this vital process and hinder our growth.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is a journey, and it starts with shifting our self-perception by shifting on the way we speak to ourselves. When the self-doubt creeps in, take a moment to acknowledge everything you’ve accomplished to get to where you are now. Validate your efforts, celebrate your success.
Instead of obsessing over the quality of your work, remember that perfection is an illusion. Artists understand this, as the creative field depends on experimentation and learning from mistakes. They try their best and send their work out into the world. Practice the art of letting go, of trusting yourself. The goal was never perfection, but to do the work you’re passionate about.
Imposter Syndrome may also be a sign of burnout. It’s important to set healthy boundaries and leave work at the office. Close your laptop at a fixed time, and consider rest as part of the work. It may seem like the rest of the world is always hustling, so it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others. We are each on our own separate journey and timeline.
Most importantly, learn to reframe criticism. It is a truth universally acknowledged that we could get too close to our work. There’s nothing more valuable than a fresh pair of eyes and constructive criticisms. Thank your critics for their feedback. Remember that it is not a personal judgment, rather a vital part of the process and an opportunity to expand your expertise.
Last but certainly not least, learn to accept praise gracefully. You deserve it. You are enough. The people around you know this, so it’s time to claim your place in the world. You’ve earned it.
Sarah Jones, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Sarah Jones - Published author, speaker, accredited personal & executive coach helps motivated, ambitious professionals & executives to improve their career, or find a new career, and helps teams to accelerate success & performance.
Due to significant early challenges in her own life, Sarah has always been tenacious, entrepreneurial & unafraid to speak her mind.
At times being the only woman in the boardroom amongst in international corporations in her early 30s, she is a beacon of strength for leaders and individuals.
In Sarah’s former career, she was a leader in corporate affairs but founded Sarah-J Coaching to help individuals & leaders become their personal best in life and their careers.
She is dubbed the phrase 'regroup, reboot, and reinvent' - a three-step change process - having helped to pull out individuals from the trenches & into their own spotlight through her transformative and action-based coaching approach.
Her book ‘From Vulnerable to Invincible’ helps readers to identify how to step into their challenges, reframe & learn, to launch themselves to success.
She also regularly contributes to the media such as BBC, The Guardian & Sky. She regularly speaks and has delivered empowering talks for Pearson Business School and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).