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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Next Role

There’s a high likelihood you’ve experienced imposter syndrome at some point. It’s the feeling that you aren’t qualified for a job or a role you’re taking on, even when evidence says otherwise. The sense that others will see you as an imposter and questioning, “Who am I to be doing (fill in the blank)?”

Imposter Syndrome frequently creeps in when we’re rising into a new role at our company, or when we switch companies and step into a bigger role. You may even feel it interviewing for that next step up - say you’re coming from a Director role, applying for the VP position. Which is all to say, it happens most often when we’re in a growth position. Taking the leap with new responsibilities, a new title, or even a new industry. 

Growth requires change and a degree of uncertainty. Think about it. If we keep doing the same thing for years, we’re not going to improve too much, or learn many new skills. Growth requires taking a leap into the unknown. So yes, there’s likely a portion of the new role that we haven’t experienced before. And, the only way to learn it is to take the leap and immerse ourselves. 

The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is twofold. First, it’s maintaining the confidence that you bring so much to the table - not just your professional experience and skills, also, the personal attributes that make you, well, you. Those are a gift, they’re completely unique, and you’ve got to trust yourself. Believe in your worthiness - not necessarily that you have been there before, but that you have what it takes to own it and grow into the role. 

When I’m working with clients, depending on the lens they’re currently seeing themselves through, we’ll do some inventory of their experience, values, and traits, and maybe also some journaling too, to get to the root of what’s holding them back. It’s amazing what comes up and how working through some limiting beliefs helps them to realize their power that was hidden behind those (false) beliefs. 

The second key piece is about moving into new spaces with a curiosity and beginners mind that is often referenced in mindfulness practices. Being open to new experiences, and trusting ourselves to learn and be guided is key. Since imposter syndrome often stems from perfectionism, letting go of the notion that we have to be perfect or have all the answers. I like to remind clients to surround themselves with smart people, and to remember that people actually appreciate a leader that asks questions and empowers the people on their teams to make decisions. Showing a willingness to be open and learn is so valuable! And, it’s so much easier to work with this type of person than someone who feels they have to feign answers and solutions. 

Three things that work well to help you stop feeling like an imposter: 

  1. Create a practice of writing “I am” statements each morning. Write down future traits and realities you want for yourself so you’re clear on who you want your future self to be. It’s powerful when repeated daily. Our thoughts become our reality. 

  2. You can always go back to writing down a list of experiences, skills, awards, compliments, and traits about yourself that are positive. This also reinforces focus on the positive and helps unearth things about yourself you might have forgotten, and some that wouldn’t typically show up on your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

  3. Practice daily meditation. The benefits are more than I can list here, and I mention this here primarily because being able to be still with ourselves helps us to see things clearly and create space between stimulus and response. 

Have questions about overcoming imposter syndrome or are curious about coaching? Feel free to send me an email christine (at) christinefiske.com or head over to my site and set up a free discovery session with me.

Christine Fiske is a mindful leadership coach to startup leaders and entrepreneurs. Her VIP methodology starts with Vision Casting and includes Inner Alignment and taking Purposeful Action. Prior to launching her coaching business, she ran her marketing consultancy working with startups and VC firms, and served as a startup executive at several Boston-based startups.