- My employer selected me because they had a limited group to choose from…or the decision-maker was drunk!’
- ‘Should I express my opinion? I guess I am not seen as a significant team member.’
- ‘Will I be listened to if I speak up?’
- ‘My success is just a fluke, I don’t deserve it.’
- ‘Accomplishments are a matter of being in the right place at the right time.’
- ‘My incompetence will be found out very soon.’
Have you ever felt the same? You are not alone.
Actually, it is a common scenario in the workplace. If you feel this way, you may suffer from ‘impostor syndrome’.
Not everyone is familiar with this term but the majority of people have that self-deprecating thought especially when working on unusual or complex tasks. Even the most successful business owners and founders struggle with the feeling like a fraud.
Let’s look at where impostor syndrome comes from, how it affects your productivity, and what you can do to fight it.
What Is Impostor Syndrome?
In an article Feel Like a Fraud? The American Psychological Association described impostor syndrome as a phenomenon that occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize or accept their success.
Those with impostor syndrome tend to attribute their achievements to luck, and they live in constant fear of being unmasked as frauds.
It can also be defined as a mix of feelings of incapacity and imperfection that persist even in the face of fact indicating that the opposite is true.
Also called as chronic self-doubting. It is a feeling that you are not really a successful, competent and smart person, that you are only pretending as such, according to the Caltech Counseling Center.
There are three different mindsets of those who are suffering from impostor syndrome.
Look through the following statements and check out if you have the symptoms of this mental pattern:
- ‘I’m a fake.’
- ‘I got lucky.’
- ‘I’m not gifted; I just work really hard.’
- ‘If I can do it, it must not be difficult; everyone can do it as well.’
Sounds familiar? Probably, you have impostor syndrome. But don’t worry, just read further and discover effective yet sometimes unexpected tips to overcome these feelings.
How Impostor Syndrome Affects Productivity
Impostor syndrome is not the only reason why productivity falls in the workplace yet important one. To start with, feeling like you are an impostor is very stressful. Imagine that you are constantly waiting to be found out.
As a consequence, you are tensed, nervous, irritated, tired, distracted and unorganized. The result is quite predictable. Your overall productivity decreases dramatically.
The next thing which happens is that you may become a workaholic and perfectionist. You stay longer at the office, study madly, work harder than everyone else around you because you think you are not intelligent or capable enough.
On the one hand, behaving like that will probably lead you to achieve more. On the other hand, you are not able to stop. Ever. You can’t enjoy your accomplishments. All you keep doing is moving forward. Action for the sake of action. Does it make sense?
Besides experiencing perfectionism, you may also feel another productivity threat—procrastination.
Procrastination ‘helps’ you confirm your own opinion that you are incompetent. How does this work? Procrastinating, you do something at the very last moment and if it doesn’t work out then you rationalize, “I’m not really surprised because I am a fraud and a fool.”
How Can You Overcome Impostor Syndrome?
Surprisingly, it is not enough to be successful to defeat impostor syndrome.
The reason is that the very essence of it is a feeling that you are a fraud despite the accomplishments. Succeeding doesn’t prove that you deserve the benefits that come from your achievements.
It seems that there is no way out from Impostor Syndrome prison. But don’t despair!
Here are some hints suggested by the American Psychological Association:
- Mind that you are not alone, 70 per cent of the people suffer from this syndrome.
- Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect.
- Talk to a supervisor or colleagues about their opinion of your work. One way could be to get 360-degree feedback. After that, you can compare your thoughts with those of your co-workers. You may notice that you are way more negative about yourself then others think.
- Keep a journal of positive feedback you receive, including how you respond to it. What is your reaction when someone notices your accomplishments? Are you realistic about acknowledging your successes?
- Recognize your expertise. Remember what you do well. Be able to recognize fairly what you are good at and what your great qualities are.
- Talk to those who’ve accomplished great things, but feel like a fraud. Find similarities between them and you.
- Giving yourself credit for your accomplishments is the next thing to go for. Celebrating small victories, actively notice and acknowledge situations when you get through something that you doubted yourself on. You can even give yourself small rewards: for example, a sweet treat. For larger achievements—a night out or weekend getaway.
Generally speaking, impostor syndrome is a stressful chronic self-doubting. It is a feeling that you are not really a successful, competent and smart person, that you are only pretending as such.
It kills your productivity mainly by procrastination and perfectionism. Follow these suggestions in order to overcome it:
- Remember that nobody’s perfect, period.
- Ask for feedback, comparing an image of yourself with other people. You may notice that you are way more negative about yourself then others are.
- Keep a journal of positive feedback you receive.
- Always remember what you are good at.
- Talk to those who’ve accomplished great things and find people who feel the same way you do.
- Don’t forget to give yourself credit for your accomplishments. Celebrate your victories. Even small ones.
Have you had this emotional pattern and found strategies on how to fight it? Share your experience with us!
P.S. Admitting is the first step to getting rid of impostor syndrome. You are already going the extra mile by overworking and self-studying. Probably, the majority of your co-workers are not doing all that.
I bet you’ve proved your proficiency to yourself and others tons of times. It is not a gift of heaven, you simply know your business. And what you don’t know yet you can figure out at any time. Keep calm and feel like a hero!