You’re fully qualified with a proven track record and you are consistently recognized as a high performer. But an underlying feeling or subconscious narrative continually overshadows all of the valuable work you do. You feel as though you are faking it and that someone, at some point, is going to expose you as a fraud. According to Amber Naslund, Senior Content Consultant at LinkedIn, if you find yourself wrestling with the feelings we’re describing, you may be experiencing an affliction referred to as ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
From the C-Suite to Wimbledon – Imposters are Everywhere
If you’re nodding your head acknowledging your inner imposter right now, know that you’re in good company. Many high-profile leaders, executives, and even celebrities have publicly declared their own struggles with imposter syndrome. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandburg, world #1 women’s tennis pro, Serena Williams, and former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz all admit to having felt like a fraud throughout their careers. In fact, according to a 2011 study by the Behavioral Science Research Institute, 70% of people experience a feeling of imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime.
Even Amber has felt the effects of imposter syndrome off and on throughout her career. After a series of layoffs from high profile jobs, Amber found herself face-to-face with her own inner imposter, guiding her job search to positions well below her level of qualifications. While on her quest for a new position, which should have been naturally targeted at VP and even CMO roles, Amber found herself feeling like she needed to downgrade her expectations. No matter what the requirements of the role were, she was convinced she wasn’t capable of meeting them.
“The more we drag this stuff kicking and screaming into the light, the less shame and stigma there will be around imposter syndrome and the easier we can navigate it together.” – Amber Naslund, Senior Content Consultant – LinkedIn
So how was Amber able to overcome her imposter syndrome and land her current role as Senior Content Consultant at LinkedIn? She said it took a lot of inner work, and a handful of “hacks”. Even though we’re certain you’re awesome, we know having a few tricks up your sleeve to quiet that noisy inner imposter can be useful, so we asked Amber to share some of those hacks with us. Try them out anytime you have trouble remembering how great you are- or just ask us and we’ll remind you too.
Three Hacks for Dismantling Imposter Syndrome
- Get a little help from your friends. Amber suggests having what she calls your “Committee of Champions” at the ready to look realistically at your background and accomplishments to help reinforce the messages that you’re worthy and terrific when your inner imposter causes you to forget. Be sure to choose people you’ll believe are telling you the truth and giving you an honest assessment no matter what, Amber recommends.
- Fake it till you make it. Amber told us one of the things she did to overcome her imposter syndrome was to call on her theatre training from her youth. She did that so she could, “act as though I was in a role and portraying somebody who had capabilities and qualifications that were actually my own.” Look at your skills and superpowers and create a character around them that you can play to make it more believable to your inner imposter that you might be able to do the things you already know how to do.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. While Amber admits that imposter syndrome isn’t necessarily considered a mental health condition, she advocates for anyone suffering from it to consider seeking help from a professional if the voice inside becomes so noisy that it gets in the way of your forward momentum. Amber reminds us that just like there’s no shame in seeking a doctor’s support for a chronic illness, there’s no need for shame in finding support for things that impact your mind’s performance either.
What about you? How have you slayed your own inner imposter? Tell us in the comments so we can all get better at it together.