“If you’re feeling like a fraud, that’s when you’ve made it.”
A good friend told me this recently. I’m not sure if it’s quite true, but I do believe that feeling like a fraud is not evidence of any missteps.
It can happen a variety of ways. You’re waiting to get called into a meeting, preparing to present to a customer, a boss or a board and you think, “What am I doing? I have no business telling these guys how they should run a business. Who do I think I am?”
It can happen when you’re at the podium accepting the award for your strides as a leader among business owners. You think, “Why the heck would they choose me? What have I done?”
Some people are blessed with confidence and mental security, but the truth is, Impostor Syndrome—a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments—is a real thing and affects a multitude of people.
You may be proud in public, even narcissistic at times, but how do you feel inside? How you overcome this phenomenon is the true test of your success. Will you let it tear yourself down, or will you let yourself see what others see in you?
Here are our 3 tips to overcome feeling like a fraud:
1. Write down and save the nice things that people say about you
Everyone loves to receive a compliment. Why not save these to recreate that same feeling? Even if you are feeling like a fraud, it’s certain that your actions and words have affected someone before, and hopefully in a positive way. If they are nice enough to give you a compliment in return, write it down and look back upon it when you’re feeling down or unsure of yourself. You can even write some of the compliments on an index card and stick it in your wallet or purse. If you have other friends who have the same struggle of recognizing their abilities or accomplishments, get all of them together and pass around index cards. You and your friends can take turns writing honest, anonymous compliments to one another.
2. Build a support team
Maintaining a team of supporters is like having your own personal cheerleading squad. These should be people extremely close to you (e.g. significant other, parent, best friend, mentor) so you feel comfortable opening up to them. This group of supporters will be able to lift your spirits and reinforce all of the reasons why you are successful. Sometimes just hearing these positive words of encouragement is enough to kick your feelings of Impostor Syndrome. Another tool is establishing a group of connections that also deal with feeling like a fraud. This will ensure that you aren’t alone in your feelings as well as allow you to bolster each other— don’t forget the index cards!
One of the many traits of successful people is having the support of caring people. Don’t be a narcissist. Always recognize those people who have helped you along the way, but know that they didn’t do all the work to get you to where you are.
3. Record your thoughts
This exercise can be carried out in several ways. One method is to practice stream-of-thought writing, in which you constantly write for fifteen minutes or so without stopping. This exercise will allow you to push past your initial thoughts on the subject and help you reach the deeper problem that is clouding your confidence. Another tool you can use is to make a side-by-side list of some of your biggest accomplishments and failures. You will see that the list of failures once on paper does not seem as intimidating as they do in your head. This will also give you a place to see your accomplishments when you’re feeling down.
Although these are just three methods of combating Impostor Syndrome and owning your accomplishment, many others can be used to help bring you back to reality. Once you are able to realize and believe that you are the main cause of your accomplishments, you can continue onward and upward. Being thankful for the help, guidance and support you’ve received, and knowing your strengths will help you finally stop feeling like a fraud.
People listen to you and your ideas for a reason. Don’t let Impostor Syndrome prevent you from showing your value to customers anymore.