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A better version of me: 3 ways to claim your seat at the table

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You finally got the keenly contested dream job. Congratulations!

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After resuming on the job, however, you begin to feel inadequate. You feel undeserving. You feel you have (again) tricked this organisation into believing you can deliver the role. You feel the business will soon find out how incompetent you really are. 

You don’t feel you deserve a seat at the table.

You feel like a fraud … and would soon be discovered.

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You feel like you are in a bubble … and it is about to burst.

That is what psychologists call Impostor Syndrome.

A Harvard Business Review publication, “What CEOs Are Afraid Of”, says the number one fear of over 100 CEO’s randomly interviewed is the fear of being discovered to be a fraud.

Impostor Syndrome is not a “women of colour problem”. According to a Journal of Mental Health & Clinical Psychology publication titled, “Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: A Systematic Review”, Impostor Syndrome plagues as high as over 80% of high achieving individuals irrespective of gender or race. 

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Here are 3 top tactics I use to overcome Impostor Syndrome:

I tell myself, “no one really cares”
The 20-40-60 rule, recently popularised by Heidi Roizen, the Silicon Valley executive, venture capitalist, and entrepreneur, says, “At 20, you are constantly worrying about what other people think of you. At 40, you wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to give a damn what other people think anymore.’ And at 60, you realise no one is thinking about you at all!” 

The key takeaway from this rule is that no one is thinking about you; therefore, go ahead and do what you have to do!

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Recent Neuroscience studies I have come across show the people do not even think about others. They think about themselves 60% – 80% of the time.

I build confidence in a paradoxical manner; I tell myself that “I am important, but not that important.”

“Reviewing the value I have added over the years, helps me separate my feelings from the facts. It validates my competence & reinforces the fact that I am entitled to have a seat at the table. This helps take care of Impostor Syndrome.”

I remind myself of my strengths and past successes
Paul J. Meyer, the father of the self-improvement industry, once shared a life hack that I find very useful in combating Impostor Syndrome“Enter every activity (or role) without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems”.

Human nature is to focus on what is not going on well. This tendency is exacerbated amongst leaders since part of what brought many to the limelight is skill at focusing on and improving what is not going on well. Over the years, the urge to get better and better sometimes diminishes the achievements recorded and reinforces Impostor Syndrome.

I update my Resume periodically, reflecting on roles I have delivered, challenges I have overcome, and value I have added throughout my career. It separates feelings from facts. It validates my competence, reinforcing that I am entitled to have a seat at the table.

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I act my way out of the impostor feeling 
#1 New York Times bestselling author Rick Warren once said, “Feelings follow action. It is much easier to act your way into (or out of) a feeling than feel your way into (or out of) an action”. Once you act the Impostor feeling out, you begin your downward spiral journey. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I, therefore, act confident when I don’t feel confident. 

I ask if there are tough questions after my presentation, even when I don’t feel like answering any questions at all. 

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I ask for feedback from the organisation’s most critical people, even though I don’t feel like being criticised. 

I own up when I do not understand something, even though I don’t feel like being vulnerable. You cannot shame the shameless, the saying goes.

In conclusion, the attention Albert Einstein’s work received during his lifetime made him feel so much like an impostor that he said he thinks of himself “as an involuntary swindler”. You are, therefore, in good company if you feel like (or have ever felt like) a fraud. You, however, should overcome it.

Apply three (3) tactics shared and reduce the likelihood of actually acting out the syndrome.

A Better Version of Me, a series on some of the lessons I have learnt in my leadership journey, continues on 08 April 2021.

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