As an executive coach, I have encountered many executives who have experienced the Imposter Syndrome at some point in their careers. Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt despite having achieved significant success. It can lead to anxiety, stress, and a fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Fortunately, recent neuroscience research has shed light on the causes of these negative voices inside your head and provided some strategies to overcome it. I’d like to share some of the findings from 20+ years of experience working with leading executives and offer practical advice to silence the doubter inside your own head.
What Causes Imposter Syndrome?
It’s a psychological phenomenon that affects many high achievers, especially but not only in competitive industries. It is characterized by the belief that one's success is due to luck, timing, or other external factors rather than one's own abilities and hard work.
Recent neuroscience research suggests this is related to the way our brains process information. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and self-awareness, may be overactive in people with Impostor Syndrome. This leads to excessive self-monitoring and self-criticism, which can undermine confidence and create a sense of fraudulence.
Here’s how you can Overcome Imposter Syndrome
If you're struggling with this state of mind, the following strategies can help you silence the doubter inside your own head:
Recognize your achievements
Start by acknowledging your successes and accomplishments. Keep a journal or a list of your achievements, both big and small, and review it regularly. This can help you build a more positive self-image and counteract the negative self-talk that often accompanies this syndrome.
Reframe your thinking
Challenge negative thoughts and beliefs by reframing them in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking "I'm not qualified for this promotion," try thinking "I have the skills and experience to succeed in this role." This can help you shift your focus from self-doubt to self-confidence.
Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks. Instead of berating yourself for your perceived failures, focus on learning and growing from them. Get curious about whatever didn’t turn out the way you desired and ask yourself what learnings you can derive from it.
Talk to a trusted friend, a mentor or a coach about your feelings and thoughts of self-doubt. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone else can help you gain perspective and feel less isolated. Working with an experienced Executive Coach could be the pivoting point, someone with an outside perspective and deep knowledge that can help you make the difference in your leadership and life.
Imposter Syndrome usually undermines confidence and stifles personal growth. At Brighter Leaders we use the findings of latest neuroscience research as well as our own experience to help leaders overcome this state and become the best version of themselves.
If you're struggling with feelings and thoughts of not being good enough, of being a fraud, I encourage you to take action today. Start by taking one small step in the right direction in any of the following:
acknowledging your achievements
reframing your thinking
Remember that Imposter Syndrome is a common experience, and you're not alone. By taking the first step, you can silence the doubter inside your own head and achieve the success you deserve.
Getting rid of this debilitating condition is not something you have to face alone. With the right support you too can reach your full potential. Get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you overcome the self-doubt that is holding you back from the success you deserve.
Maybe you wish to download our last leadership book: From Struggling to Surfing, How Successful Leaders make the Leap. It includes very short sections for you to work with your Inner Game, with easy-to-do practical exercises that don't take much time but have a big impact in your leadership and life. Or you can do both and get faster and easier results.
Our clients notice a positive difference only in a few weeks. The more leaders we help the more impact we make in society, the more Brighter Leaders we see developing themselves and others.