10 Steps to Reduce Imposter Syndrome

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Renee Hawkins, Head of Professional Services - Thoughtworks UK
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Renee Hawkins, Head of Professional Services - Thoughtworks UK

Imposter Syndrome affects all of us from time to time, I wanted to share some research and experiences to help move beyond feelings.

1. Break the silence

  • Talk about it with someone you trust from time to time.
  • Understand that everyone feels it and give names to your feelings

2. Separate feelings from facts

  • There are times you'll feel foolish. It happens to everyone. Realize that just because you may feel foolish, doesn't mean you are.

3. Ask for feedback

  • Ask for specific feedback on areas you may feel as an Imposter. Say you think you are not doing well on communication, you can go to someone you trust and ask: "How did I do on the last presentation? Anything I should do differently?" You'll be surprised with the results.

4. Focus on the positive

  • Celebrate your wins, really.
  • Accept positive feedback, do not always diverge from them by bringing the team or others. Just say thank you.

 

5.  Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake making

  • Making mistakes, learning with them and pivoting is how we grow. The day you stop making mistakes you'll be stuck!

 

6.  You do not need to know everything in advance, you can ask for help

  • If you've been operating under misguided rules like: "I should always know the answer," or "Never ask for help", rethink. A good leader will acknowledge when they do not have the answer, and that is fine.
  • Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong

7.  Understand your triggers/symptoms

  • "Oh my God everyone here is brilliant" thoughts like these, are very likely to be a trigger for Imposter Syndrome. Try to understand what are the triggers or symptoms of your Imposter feelings and get more and more aware of that.
  • Recognize your triggers and what emotions they triggered. Only by doing that, eventually they lose power over you.

8. Accept that you do bring something to the table

  • Everyone is unique and can contribute. You are not here by mistake.

9. Fake it ‘till you make it

  • Feeling an Imposter and having fear is a common pattern.
  • Fear has a biological reason to exist. In Thoughtworks Brazil we say "Courage is not lack of fear, but doing it anyways even when afraid".
  • The problem is if it becomes pathological, if that's the case, try these steps here and/or ask for help.

10.  Find ways to be spontaneous

  • Put some limits on the last one, fake it ‘till you make it.
  • Using "masks" all the time, or making a conscious effort to "behave" or "prove yourself" requires a lot of mental energy that could be used for creativity instead.

Imposter Syndrome still happens from time to time. The trick is not to give up..

This blog post has been taken from an entry byMatheus Tait, to read it in full go to 10 Steps to Reduce Imposter Syndrome.

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