Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I’ve faked it… Do I really have it in me to ever make it?

“I’m not nearly as good enough,” declared an ex-colleague unequivocally.  I stared at him wide-eyed, thinking of what to say next. This is the man everyone was all praises about. This man knew his job and did it well. And yet he stood there with an apparent air of ineptitude. Humility, I assessed. His next sentence stunned me though.
“Anytime now; they’ll know I’m a fake… and my career is over.”

This wasn’t the emotion of humility; this had a much deeper psychological connotation. If a constant feeling of being undeserving of your success nags you too, then you’re among the likes of Chuck Lorre (Big Bang Theory fame), Meryl Streep… and many other high achievers who suffer from the imposter syndrome.

On one hand, being a neurotic imposter can drive people to perform at the best of their ability. But it also signifies a feeling of incompetence that lurks in the background, which may sabotage the prospects of a thriving career. This is reason enough for managers to recognise early signs and help the confident achiever in you overcome the neurotic imposter. 
Neurotic imposters stand out by displaying very stereotypical behavioural traits.

  • NIs are workaholics. They strive to achieve the unrealistic goals they set for themselves.
  • They are perfectionists. This is the main reason behind them being less inclined to delegate tasks and often micromanage their team.
  • They often cannot mentor. Their attitude to micromanage often gives an impression that they do not trust their team members.
  • They ‘feel’ incompetent. They’re constantly plagued by a feeling of not living up to expectations.
  • They often attribute their success to external factors, like luck. Therefore there is an evident lack of self-confidence.

It’s important to understand that the imposter syndrome develops with certain experiences. A neurotic imposter may have been bullied during childhood, or their abilities fell short before an advantaged rival. Feelings of insecurity may also creep in when people are promoted or trusted with a gamut of other responsibilities, triggered mostly by the fear of failure; the higher you climb, the scarier it gets. Whatever the reason, it’s important to nip the imposter syndrome in the bud.
The first step to remedying any condition is its identification. Now that you decided to continue reading further itself suggests that you may have associated with the condition. Here is a list of some simple strategies that can be employed to counteract the imposter syndrome.
Focus on the end result and communicate it: Don’t rush into things. Set some time aside to lay out a plan with the end result in mind and relay it to your team. Outline what you want and to what standard. There should be a dialogue which reveals what is realistically achievable and how.

Focus on your achievements: You might often feel that you mount up to nothing, especially when in reception of a negative feedback. This is the right time to muse over your past achievements and draw the drive to succeed from them. Negative feedbacks are constructive feedbacks often conveyed in the wrong words.

Allow yourself time to learn and apply what you learn: Every new opportunity is a chance to apply what you’ve learnt in the past and learn new things. Allow yourself the luxury of making mistakes. Remember you are a learner.

Set SMART goals: It is important to consider whether the goals you set are achievable.

Accept assistance: Part of this come from trusting in the abilities of your team members and delegating tasks that they can perform without having sleepless nights. This will also give a chance to your team members to learn something new. Et voila! You have a more effectual team.

Balance your work life: Teamwork is sharing of responsibility which does not disrupt work-life balance. Once realistic goals are set and tasks delegated, it’s easy and worthwhile to strike a balance between professional and personal lives.

Ask for feedback: Your superiors are not the only ones who are likely to give you feedback. Consider asking your subordinates for constructive feedback too. They might offer a whole new perspective on things that might surprise you.   

Take credit: As important as it is to give others credit for jobs done well, it is important to take credit for one’s achievements. What one accomplishes is a direct result of the effort one puts in. So give yourself a pat on the back sometimes; you’ve earned it.

Lastly, it’s important to understand that ridding yourself of the imposter syndrome is a process, and will require constant effort from your end. It requires you to change your perspective and know that you can’t control everything. Simultaneously, it should be an enjoyable journey; not a stressed achievement rampage. 

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