From Self-Doubt To Self-Worth: Breaking Free From Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome, an ever-present adversary known to many, is a formidable force that stealthily infiltrates our lives at the most inconvenient moments. It emerges as an unwelcome companion at the outset of new endeavours, lurks among accomplished peers, and often surfaces during fervent yearnings for something greater. It is a relentless whisperer of doubt and uncertainty, casting shadows on one's rightful place in the world.
As a leadership coach, I've had the privilege of working with numerous clients who have grappled with imposter syndrome. It has become evident to me that this phenomenon pays no heed to social status, educational background, personal history, or experience. It takes on various forms and can manifest with differing intensities, yet a deep-seated fear of failure and judgment due to their perceived inadequacy unites them all. This fear often leads them to attribute their accomplishments to mere luck, undermining their intrinsic abilities and nurturing a profound sense of fraudulence.
In response to these overwhelming feelings, some individuals I've coached resort to overworking and relentlessly pursuing perfection. They set unattainable standards for themselves, convinced that only perfection can validate their self-worth. Others embrace constant comparison with their peers and embark on an unrelenting quest for external validation, excessively relying on the opinions of others to silence their persistent self-doubt.
The diverse manifestations of imposter syndrome can have a profound impact on our lives, influencing our choices, behaviours, and overall well-being.
I, too, wasn't exempt from imposter syndrome.
Before transitioning into coaching, I enjoyed a successful career in executive search. I consistently exceeded targets and delivered exceptional results year after year.
However, a lurking sense of dread would grip me whenever I engaged in conversations with top executives. The fear of stumbling and exposing my perceived ignorance about their specific industries haunted me relentlessly. I often questioned how someone like me, with limited knowledge of running a company, could participate in meaningful discussions at their level and be deserving of their valuable time.
My internal struggle not only hindered my ability to relish the joy of meeting new people, something that had always been a source of inspiration for me, but it also steadily eroded my self-confidence. I had fallen into the trap of my limiting belief that my worthiness depended solely on what I knew. I had placed upon myself unrealistic and unattainable expectations, all while neglecting my other qualities.
Regrettably, recognizing this deeply rooted limiting belief took me far too long.
Yet, this realization marked my first step in breaking free from the grip of imposter syndrome and enabled me to make a significant shift in my focus from proving myself to improving myself by:
Recognizing its presence and embracing vulnerability: Imposter syndrome has been like a persistent shadow. Instead of trying to suppress it, I started to listen to what it was saying and began to ask, "Is it possible that it's wrong? Is there some other narrative I can start cultivating?"
Making connections, not impressions: It became abundantly clear to me that the foundation of most of my success stories was not my knowledge but rather my innate qualities like curiosity, empathy, and understanding others – qualities which I tend to take for granted.
Shifting from perfection to lifelong learning: Instead of fixating on knowing everything, I began focusing on gradually acquiring new skills and knowledge, one step at a time. I altered my mindset, viewing each client interaction as a valuable learning opportunity rather than a test of my self-worth.
Embracing failures as lessons: Instead of dwelling on perceived failures, I welcomed wrong turns and mistakes, recognizing them as signposts pointing toward areas for improvement. Just as I try to teach my children that they learn from their test errors instead of losing their motivation for completing their homework, I, too, started to value these moments as valuable lessons.
When you approach imposter syndrome with curiosity and treat it as something that needs your attention, you begin to ask yourself, "What would be the best way to help it?" In doing so, you embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, realizing that this unwelcome guest, in its own paradoxical way, has the potential to be a catalyst for your transformation and empowerment. Embrace it not as a foe but as a teacher on the path to finding your true worth and unleashing your full potential.
If you're looking for support in overcoming imposter syndrome, building leadership confidence, or nurturing a self-worth mindset, don't hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sergeja-medovic/.