Impostor phenomenon has been a phrase bandied about since the late 70s when psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes first introduced it. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Clance when researching my latest book, Accelerating Your Impact.
At one time or another, we all question the value that we bring to the table.
Why is impostor phenomenon so common?
Through my keynotes and workshops for professionals, I see first-hand that many people can relate and even confirm that they experience impostor phenomenon in various aspects of their day and roles. I do not know why some experience more than others but in my own work, I know it stems from my own personal uncertainties. For example, when I was working in Silicon Valley, which I loved, I could feel my impostor phenomenon creep up when I was working with people that were IVY League educated. I assumed that they were more talented than I was, simply because of where they received their diploma.
This was brought to my attention early on in my career by a boss and has haunted me for years. People internalize feedback, conversations, and interactions; it defines how we feel about ourselves and our work.
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult
So how can we overcome this internal negative voice that has the power to trap us in our current position? One of the methods I talk about in my book is:
- Bringing yourself to the present moment to identify the source of your anguish which fosters impostor phenomenon.
Have you ever had a panic attack? While experiencing impostor phenomenon is unlike a panic attack, one of the ways you can overcome your negative voice is by using a technique that helps those suffering from a panic attack.
- Put your hand over your heart.
- Take a deep breath.
- Feel that breath go in and out.
Assess what you are feeling at that moment to discover the trigger by examining what is making you feel less than adequate?
By focusing on the present and spending a few moments taking relaxing, cleansing breaths you allow yourself to examine the reality of how you are feeling compared to what is true.
Trust me – your reality at that moment is probably far from the truth. What you offer can’t be measured by comparing yourself to what you perceive others bring to the table.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your accomplishments and the value you offer to your position, your team and your company.
Each time you squash those feelings of impostor phenomenon and replace your thoughts with your true value, you will move one step closer to your ultimate goal.
- Impostor Syndrome: 5 Ways Women Can Minimize It
- Self-efficacy Plus Self-esteem Equals Effective Leadership
- Self Doubt is Self-Limiting
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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