Conquering self-doubt

Lee Allentuck, The Plan A Group

The Plan A Group’s Lee Allentuck puts Imposter Syndrome under the microscope.

I’m a fraud. I’ve been living a lie. But I know that I’m not alone. We all have our inner demons. So, let’s face them together.

Today, I’m tackling a silent saboteur that lurks in the minds of many: Imposter Syndrome. This phenomenon isn’t just about having an off day; it’s a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, a belief that you’re not good enough, or a fear that you don’t truly deserve your achievements or position… But here’s the twist – it’s far more common than you think, and yes, even I’ve danced with this deceptive foe.

The Reality of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome isn’t just a fancy term coined for the insecure; it’s a well-documented psychological pattern. Research reveals that a staggering 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this syndrome in their lives. This isn’t confined to one industry, gender, or age group; it spans across all professions, from students to CEOs.

A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Science indicated that Imposter Syndrome is especially prevalent among high-achievers, suggesting that the very people who have accomplished significant achievements are often the ones who doubt their abilities the most. This paradox highlights the disconnect between external achievements and internal self-perception.

The real impact of Imposter Syndrome lies in its ability to stifle creativity, hinder professional growth and undermine achievements. It creates a cycle of constant self-doubt and personal undermining, where one’s success is attributed to luck or external factors rather than competence and hard work. Research in the International Journal of Behavioral Science found that Imposter Syndrome has a significant correlation with depression and anxiety. This connection underscores the importance of addressing imposter feelings not just for professional growth but for overall mental well-being.

Yes, I Suffer from Imposter Syndrome… A Lot!
Throughout my career, I’ve faced my share of battles with Imposter Syndrome, and still do, where the whispers of self-doubt often overshadowed my accomplishments and the supportive voices around me. It was a constant struggle, feeling like an outlier among talented peers, always on the brink of being exposed as a fraud. However, I found solace in acknowledging these feelings, recognising them as a part of the shared human experience, rather than a personal failure. This acknowledgment – coupled with reflecting on my hard-earned achievements and engaging in open conversations with mentors and colleagues who had similar experiences – gradually shifted my perspective.

These discussions not only offered comfort but also provided practical strategies to navigate my doubts. A pivotal moment came when a mentor encouraged me to re-frame my narrative, viewing my fears not as weaknesses but as evidence of my commitment to growth. Over time, I began to see that feeling like an imposter didn’t undermine my achievements but underscored my journey towards self-improvement. Now, when those familiar doubts creep in, I meet them with a reminder of the challenges I’ve overcome and the genuine support network that believes in my capabilities, empowering me to continue moving forward with resilience and confidence.

Five Signs You Might Be Experiencing Imposter Syndrome
1. Perfectionism: Setting impossibly high standards for yourself and feeling crushed when you don’t meet them.
2. Chronic Self-Doubt: Questioning your abilities and accomplishments regularly.
3. Attributing Success to Luck: Believing your achievements are due to external factors, not your effort.
4. Fear of Failure: Being so afraid to fail that it prevents you from trying new things or taking risks.
5. Downplaying Success: Brushing off compliments and convincing yourself you’re not that talented.

The Lighter Side of Doubt
Let’s face it, if Imposter Syndrome was a person, it’d be the uninvited party guest who insists on recounting every awkward moment of your life. But here’s the deal – we all have that guest from time to time. The trick is learning how to kindly show them the door, and maybe, just maybe, laugh at their absurd stories on the way out.

Facing the Imposter Within: Five Steps to Overcome
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Recognize when you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome instead of dismissing it.
2. Share Your Thoughts: Open up to trusted friends or mentors about how you’re feeling. You’ll often find they’ve felt the same way.
3. Celebrate Your Achievements: Keep a record of your successes and positive feedback to remind yourself of your capabilities.
4. Set Realistic Goals: Aim for progress, not perfection. Set achievable goals that allow you to grow without the pressure of being flawless.
5. Seek Support: Consider professional guidance or a support group to help navigate your feelings and develop coping strategies.

You’re Not Alone
Remember, Imposter Syndrome is a common visitor in the minds of the brilliant, the successful, and the innovative. It does not discriminate. What matters is not the absence of doubt but the presence of resilience and the willingness to confront and manage these feelings. Your journey, challenges, and achievements are uniquely yours. They’re a testament to your resilience, hard work and the genuine value you bring to your field.

So, the next time you find yourself questioning your place, remember this: You’re not alone, and you’re more than capable. Together, let’s embrace our imperfections, support one another, and continue to innovate and inspire.

Laugh in the face of that doubting voice – and keep playing.

Lee Allentuck is the Founder of The Plan A Group. To find out more about the consultancy, head to:

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