Last week I spoke to a room full of talented, successful people about how it’s often the case they feel far from talented or successful. Impostors Syndrome hits 70% of people in the workplace at some time or another. And it makes a lot of sense. Impostors Syndrome is the feeling that you’re not worthy or capable at a task that’s been given to you. As a new business owner and #FemaleFounder this feeling hits me every day. There are so many things I come up against that I’ve never done before, feel underqualified to deliver or plain scare the shit out of me. Most of the first six months of my company has been me walking around as the living embodiment of Impostors Syndrome.
Luckily, the badass babes behind Chicks In Advertising recognised this is quite a common feeling amongst professionals and got everyone in a room to talk it out. After my talk, so many people came up to me to share their own career insecurities and it becomes apparent; we’re ALL battling with Impostors Syndrome. It’s time we were kinder to ourselves and recognised that everyone, regardless of age, gender or ability is facing the same uphill battle. So let’s all take a moment and chill. Here are five takeaways from my talk to help you beat Impostors Syndrome and deliver your best work.
— marthas mummy (@marthasmummy) October 11, 2018
1. Write down 3 achievements, no matter how minor. Tweet it.
The idea of a success log isn’t a new one, but it is a good one. This simple step of patting yourself on the back is an effective way to recognise your hard work. This list is an anchor to your daily success and you should carry it around with you. That might be in your head, in a an awesome Paperchase notebook or even on your social media feeds. Give yourself credit and recognise your own brilliance.
2. Unfollow accounts that make you feel like crap
In my talk I touched on the role social media plays in making you feel worse about your own achievements. With overconfidence and forced self-belief rampant on many of the channels I follow it’s no wonder I feel worse after looking on Instagram or Twitter. You don’t owe these accounts shit. Unfollow them and fill your feeds with inspiring stuff that doesn’t make you feel worse about yourself.
“I’ve lived by the mantra of if there’s not a seat at the table for you, bring your own but to even say that there needs to be a level confidence I simply don’t have. I push through because I do belong there just as much as anybody else does.”
Robyn Dooley, OH founder.
3. Be vocal about crediting your work to YOU
Women, I’m looking at you here. We are terrible at accepting praise or credit for our work. Even fellow presenter Caroline Pankhurst mentioned in her own talk that she would often be the person giving credit to everyone else in her team but herself. It’s a lot easier to praise others than yourself. I get it. However, the quickest way for people to recognise your hard work is to say “I did that.” The more often you hear yourself saying “I achieved that thing” the quieter your inner critic becomes. What have they even got to say? A whole lot of nothing. That’s what.
“In those moments I try to work out why I’m feeling that way, acknowledge and accept the feeling and remind myself; I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”
Julia Day, Easy As VAT Founder
4. Do the scary thing.
The scary thing is different for everyone. For a lot of people that might be getting up and talking in front of a room full of strangers. Of course that’s scary, it’s rare to find people who thrive on it. However, one of the most effective ways to silence your inner critic is to prove them wrong. Do something you feel scared of and follow steps 1-3. Often, those suffering from Impostors Syndrome will immediately feel guilty (of all things) after they’ve successfully completed a task. Accept the feeling and move on. At the end of the day, you just did a scary thing. Nice work.
5. Your pace is more than enough
One of the most relatable things I came across when researching my talk was an insight from a paper by Clancy in 1985. Her paper states that those suffering from Impostors Syndrome will often do two things when faced with a task they feel underqualified to undertake; extreme procrastination or extreme over preparation. I asked my audience which one they felt they were. Most people sided with procrastination, which didn’t surprise me as I’m guilty of both. Again, simply recognising your behaviour and taking steps to overcome that is huge. The next time you feel yourself over-preparing or procrastinating remember your inner critic is flaring up and calm down. Take things at your pace.
Thanks for reading!
I met so many great people at the CIA event and I welcome all of you to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Next week I’ll be speaking to programme participants at Agent Academy about how to tackle a creative brief. No doubt some of the advice from this talk will creep into their session too.