March Madness is my favorite time of year.
Not only does it coincide with the freshness of spring, but it also brings about additional feelings of excitement and possibility, seeing dreams come true and hard work pay off.
While watching this year, I came across the Under Armour commercial below, and I knew I had to post about it.
Feeling underqualified, second guessing yourself in terms of your abilities and achievements, and worrying that you’re not as good as everyone thinks are feelings that nearly everyone has experienced. In 1978, a study focused on researching high achieving women coined the phrase “imposter phenomenon” that we now commonly refer to as imposter syndrome. If left unchecked, the anxiety produced by these feelings can render people ineffective, hesitant, unconfident leaders. So what can you do about it?
The number one strategy, as Bella Alaire suggests in the clip, is to watch the film. Take stock of your successes, revisit projects, reports, etc that you knocked out of the park. Reread old performance reports or look through your resume’s lists of accomplishments. Chances are, you’ll find plenty of things that reveal how you’ve attained your current position and why you deserve it.
Another strategy to kick imposter syndrome is to focus on your strengths. If you can find part of a project or an aspect of your job that falls within your genius zone, lean in to it. (If you’re unsure of what your strengths are, let’s have a conversation!) Doing something that you feel strong and confident in, and then reinforcing those feelings with your eventual success can help lessen your anxiety about attempting new things.
Finally, check in with friends or colleagues that you trust. Get their feedback and perspective. Oftentimes imposter syndrome seems ludicrous to an outsider. Most people are incredulous to think of a first round draft pick wondering if they really are good enough to play in the WNBA. It’s mind-blowing to imagine Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, or Tom Hanks feeling like imposters, but all have mentioned struggling with these feelings. Likely, your friends and colleagues will build you up, sharing how excellent you are and their certainty of your success. Let this feedback build your confidence and mitigate your anxiety.
It’s worth noting that it’s important to consider if your imposter syndrome is coming from your own insecurities, or being generated / exacerbated by biased feedback from colleagues or supervisors. Members of marginalized communities report the highest percentages of imposter feelings, and research has shown that this can often result from being treated as less competent, questioned more often, and not feeling trusted by leadership. It’s important to consider if your work environment is unfairly adding to your feeling of not belonging in your position.
Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, but it doesn’t have to hinder your career. It’s a hurdle, not a road block. With a little bit of reframing, you can start to lean in to your intrinsic value instead of constantly questioning your worth.
“I still have a little imposter syndrome… It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what power is.” – Michelle Obama
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