Have you ever felt like a fake or a fraud? Perhaps you have felt like everyone in the room questions your ability. Your credentials. Your worth.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Imposter Syndrome!
I find this topic a very common theme in a number of my coaching conversations. Particularly how our Imposters show up. Where they show up. And what they do to us when they do show up.
What I have found really interesting through my conversations is that although the theme of Imposter Syndrome is the same - "a recurring emotional experience that leads us to believe we are undeserving, a fake or a fraud”, the way it manifests itself in people is very different. I became really curious about this and started researching it a bit more.
In some fantastic work done by Dr. Carolyn Goerner, here is what I have found.
There are 4 key types of Imposters that eat away at us.
You may identify with more than one, but it is highly likely you’ll gravitate to one type more than others.
Imposter # 1 -The Perfectionist – This is the kind of Imposter that sees absolutely any mistake or error as a sign of weakness. Your weakness. You are weak. And therefore, you are a fraud, and people know it. And you couldn’t possibly let people see that. So, you prepare. You over-prepare. You spend countless hours ensuring that every little detail is covered. Sound familiar? If you think this might be you, ask yourself these questions:
Imposter #2 – The Workaholic – This little beauty feels the need to be a superhero in order to prove that they are competent. To prove they are worthy. The Workaholic Imposter will often be the first in the office or the last to leave, believing that if they just keep working and delivering that people won’t notice they are a fake. That they don’t deserve to be there. This Imposter couldn’t possibly ask for help, ever, because asking for help means they will be seen as incompetent. So, they must work harder and harder to get it all done. If this resonates with you, ask yourself these questions:
Imposter #3 – The Natural Genius – This Imposter believes that new things should always be easy to learn and that they should be able to grasp new skills quickly and with ease. Why? Because obviously everyone else does, right? According to this Imposter, yes, they do. The natural genius imposter believes that if they were as intelligent as everyone else that things wouldn’t feel as hard as they do, therefore they don’t deserve to be where they are. They are a fraud and are convinced that people must know it. If this is all feeling a little familiar to you, then ask yourself these questions:
Imposter #4 – The Expert – Our 4th Imposter believes that knowledge is power. That more knowledge is always the answer. They believe that they must know everything before they can do something, or before they can put themselves forward for something. If they do just one more course. Get one more degree. Finish one more year in the job then they will know enough. And, if they know enough, they are worthy. I see this one a lot, particularly in women, and I firmly believe it is one of the biggest things that stops us from seizing career opportunities. If this Imposter resonates with you, ask yourself these questions:
Although there are certainly other ways in which our Imposter can show up and try to derail us, these are certainly the 4 that I see show up the most.
You might be sitting there now thinking “Great – I know which one of these I am, but now what do I do about it?”.
Well, my friend, here is the good news.
Imposter Syndrome is manageable AND you are in seriously great company.
People like Sheryl Sandberg, Tina Fey and even Meryl Streep have all been open about their experiences with Imposter Syndrome and how it has held them back over the years until they were able to start managing it properly.
Here is where you can start….
Finally, Stick with it. You are re-training your brain here, so this will take time. Be kind to yourself.
Helping women learn to manage their Imposter is my jam and just quietly, I am pretty good at it! If you feel like that little voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough or that you are a fraud is getting louder and is impacting your own career success, get in touch with me. I’d love to help you kick her a** once and for all.
Claire Seeber is a self-proclaimed travel addict, mini-sausage dog mumma, avid blogger, a lover of a good glass of pinot noir and believes a solid belly laugh should be part of your every day.
She is also a professional coach, speaker and People and Culture consultant. Claire started her business in 2017 whilst working full time as General Manager of HR for a large retail business. What she loves the most about the work she does is being able to work with passionate, motivated and courageous people who genuinely want to reach their full potential and are ready to put the hard yards in to get there.