If you’re thinking what could I possibly have in common with co-founder of Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes, well let me riddle you further. You can add Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou and pretty much any high achiever to the list as well.
What am I talking about? Well, it’s the fear of discovery, also known as Imposter Syndrome.
Last time, we spoke about 6 of the most common fears that may be holding us back from getting in the arena, and their antidotes. In this edition, it’s dedicated to that fear of discovery – the chronic self-doubt and sense of fraudulence that ignores any feelings of success or legitimate evidence of competence. And it’s rampant – particularly in highly successful people.
Myth-busting time: men do experience imposter syndrome. My hunch is men just don’t discuss this feeling as openly as women do.
So, what triggers imposter syndrome? Ironically, when others recognise your success, for example through an award or being promoted, this can unleash a huge amount of pressure related to increased visibility and responsibility. It can also lead to feeling you do not deserve success or accolades and somehow you are deceiving others because you believe deeply that you lack knowledge or expertise. It tends to manifest itself with the common tendency to attribute success to luck, good timing or other external reasons, rather than your own abilities. You may also struggle to accept compliments, are falsely modest and downplay success altogether.
Here’s 3 steps you can take to help you step into the arena and lessen the impact of imposter syndrome:
Step 1: Recognise, acknowledge & accept
Awareness is the first step to change so when you recognise these feelings, acknowledge that it’s perfectly normal to have them, that this is common and that working through these feelings will provide an opportunity for growth and learning.
Step 2: Reflect and reframe
Reflect on your past achievements and when you’ve moved through these feelings of being an imposter previously – because you have! Reframe this current situation by being kind to yourself – it’s ok not to know what you’re doing! There will be a steep learning curve and you won’t get it right the first time, so allow yourself to move into an ‘experiment to learn’ mindset.
Step 3. Share, seek, reach.
Share how you’re feeling with trusted people, seek out someone who has been there before for guidance on this current situation, reach down to nurture the next generation – gain perspective on how far you’ve come. You’ll be surprised how common this feeling is and you may learn some new tips on how others have navigated their own imposter feelings.
Now, some questions for you to reflect on:
- How does fear of discovery AKA imposter syndrome manifest for you?
- Who are your ‘go to’ people for Step 3 – share, seek, reach? What do these people have in common?
Feel free to share your thoughts and responses below.
If you think others could benefit from stepping into the arena, please share with a friend.
Welcome to the Arena!
I’m Dr Jess Murphy, Founder of Pathway to Your Potential Pty Ltd.
We collaborate with people and organisations at all levels, around the world, to enhance leadership effectiveness, drive more inclusive, higher performing cultures, and leverage difference in all its forms.
Want to challenge the status quo? Develop yourself, your team or shake up your organisation & industry? Join me in the arena as I share learnings, insights and importantly, dare greatly to take action.
Dr Jess Murphy – Founder
Having spent 20+ years in the corporate world holding various senior leadership roles, alongside her Adjunct Professorship in Business Leadership, Jess delivers a unique blend of pragmatism and cutting-edge insights to ensure immediate real-world application.
Connect with Jess: