Many high-achieving women believe they are not as intelligent as other people believe them to be. Meaning they felt like impostors, as if someone’s going to find them out! Women worry more about making mistakes. Whereas, men don’t, because they feel they are entitled to make a mistake every once in awhile.
The impostor syndrome phenomenon in high achieving women was actually studied by psychologists who found that women have a pattern of dismissing accomplishments and believing that their success would disappear once others discovered the awful secret that they were, in fact, “impostors.”
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Over the past few yeas, I have studied impostor syndrome. I even interviewed one of the experts on it, Dr. Valerie Young. She is the author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.
The truth is, when I was invited to speak at a Global Leadership Conference last week in Brazil, I didn’t feel like I was important enough or ready to present on an international level. I was having some major impostor syndrome issues that I even spoke to my personal coach about.
Well, I nailed it!
Last week I presented to 800 people twice and it was AMAZING! The women all wanted photos with me afterward, I was on Brazilian TV and radio and they treated me like a Queen (I got my hair and makeup done three times!) My confidence was totally boosted and I am now ready for bigger audiences and to take my business to an even bigger level. It was truly an “upleveling” experience just like one of my mentors, Ali Brown, talks about. My mentors, coaches and everyone in Brazil helped me think bigger! I now know what I am truly capable of and I can help more women because of it!
So I suffered from the impostor syndrome but I was able to get over it. And here’s a helpful tip my personal coach told me: you will always have the impostor syndrome. No matter what, that little voice will always be in the back of your head telling you that you aren’t ready. You just have to learn to ignore it and march on!
So how could this syndrome be affecting your career?
Are you not pushing for a job because you don’t think you are qualified for it?
In the book, How Women Lead, The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know, Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, recounted a time when she was offered a new position. She asked for time to think about it and that night talking with her husband, she declared she needed more time to develop the experience and skills required for the job. He asked if she thought that was what a man would say. The next day, she accepted the position. She learned throughout her career to always take jobs that put you in a zone you don’t know. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Another woman that faces risks and challenges she may not be ready for is Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. She says, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do, “That feeling at the end of the day, where you’re like, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens.”
One of Mayer’s mantras for making decisions in life is to a) work with the smartest people she can find, and b) go for a challenge that makes her feel like she’s in over her head.
So is there an opportunity or position that you are afraid to take because you don’t think you are ready for it? I am telling you today that WHO CARES! GO FOR IT! You will never be 100% ready but that is when you the best opportunities come. Challenge yourself and start taking risks. Be comfortable being uncomfortable and step up!
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