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Feeling Like a Fraud: How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

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Strategies to Overcome Feeling Like an Imposter

Have you ever felt like your accomplishments were not your own, and resulted from luck rather than skill? Can you relate to some of the feelings as described above? Consider the below strategies to overcome the negative feelings of fear and doubt.

  • Track Your Achievements

Feelings of Imposter Syndrome may come from a lack of clarity or understanding about why an achievement occurred.  For example: Why did I get that special award?  Why was I asked to lead this committee?  Why am I getting this promotion?

If you are not accustomed to spending time thinking about your successes or even speaking to them, they can be so easily forgotten. That’s where tracking achievements is so critical in helping to avoid feelings of being a fake or a phony. Try the following:

  • Every time you have an achievement that is resume worthy, document it.
  • Tell a family member or a friend about your accomplishments. When you need a boost, they can say it back to you.
  • Create a brag book full of collections of reference letters, performance evaluations, and emails with praise.
  • Try out apps such as Trello where you can create a career history and achievement tracker.

When you are having a moment of negative self-talk, look to the above strategies and convert your thoughts and feelings into positive ones!

  • Create Your Own Value Proposition

A value proposition is a statement about who you are and how great you are at what you do.  Also called a personal elevator pitch, it helps others understand your uniqueness and what makes you special.  Try this:

Create a statement that is no more than 1-3 sentences.  Explain what you do and what value it brings to your field (for some more tips, click here).

Here’s an example of mine:

“As a strengths’ based certified coach, I work with healthcare professionals on leadership development and career transitions.  With my 20+ years of executive experience in healthcare and academia, I support my clients to RISE beyond their potential by increasing Resilience, creating Impact, achieving Success, and delivering Excellence.”

Going through the exercise of creating one, even if you do not have plans to use it, helps with gaining more self-awareness of your own greatness.

  • Get Support from Mentors

A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor that helps provide guidance, motivation, and support. They are typically someone that is in an allied field, and has been in a similar position, as the person they are mentoring.

Identify who plays these roles for you. To find a good mentor, try to reach out to someone you admire and respect and who serves as a role model for you. They can be internal to your organization, or external to it. Consider reaching out to individuals in your network such as through associations or societies you may be a member of.

Talk to them about what you are feeling and get their support. A strong mentor can help you understand how your accomplishments are the result of who you are and what you do vs. what anyone has done for you.

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