At the recent InspiHER Tech meetup for Career Women in Tech we talked about the Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome, also called Fraud Complex, occurs when a person believes they are inadequate despite all the evidence that they are accomplished, capable and successful.
This is something that both men and women suffer from, but the women are in the majority. And often it is the women who you would consider high-achievers, who have reached a level of success in their careers, that suffer from it the most.
Which is frustrating because when we buy-in to imposter syndrome we keep ourselves from contributing at our highest level.
What are the Root Causes of Imposter Syndrome?
In the meeting, we felt that culture was the one common element to the creation of Imposter Syndrome. By culture we meant upbringing, media, history of women not being educated, men as the leaders and decisions makers for things that impact us equally yet women do not have an equal voice.
Cultural implications hold women back and contribute to an underlying, often quiet, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem which is at the root of the belief we are imposters or frauds that will soon be found out.
How Does Imposter Syndrome Manifest in our Lives?
- We don’t speak up at meetings.
- We don’t volunteer our ideas.
- We hold ourselves back from things that feel even a little bit risky.
- We second-guess ourselves.
- We wait to act.
- We choose smaller roles where we know we will succeed but also not grow.
- We stay in our comfort zone.
- We act the victim.
Be a Cheetah and Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Overcoming imposter syndrome involves taking more risks, speaking up, quieting the negative self-talk, trusting yourself, finding allies and mentors to support your growth and embracing your inner-cheetah.
At the meetup up one of the more senior leaders in the group told a story that inspired her to believe in herself and her abilities.
Imagine there is a race and 100 dogs are getting ready to take off.
Now imagine you are a cheetah in a cage unable to be a part of that race.
The dogs are barking at you.
You want to participate but you are held back.
You want to participate because that is what you are good at…racing.
You begin to feel cheated. You start to get down on yourself and then begin to blame the dogs.
Maybe you are not getting the chance because you are not good enough?
Maybe you should have done this differently or that better?
Maybe people know something you don’t about your lack of ability?
You do not need to compete in this race with the dogs.
You already know the result.
You are a cheetah! The fastest land animal there is, capable of running as much as 75 mph.
No need to race.
You would win.
Remember Who You Are
Part of overcoming imposter syndrome is owning our gifts and abilities even when we do not have the opportunity to use them.
And then seeking out ways to shine.
Allowing Imposter Syndrome to keep us from doing what we are capable of holds all women back.
We are capable.
We know what to do and how to do it.
Not sure how to realize your inner cheetah? Sign up for a Career Strategy Session and let me help you!