Imposter syndrome disproportionally affects women. A recent study by KPMG found 75% of women in executive positions across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers. It is commonly defined as doubting your abilities, skills or accomplishments and feeling you are likely to be exposed as a fraud. Whilst it has no single clear cause, there are strategies to overcome the gnawing feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty that appears to unite so many of us:
1) Learn to take mistakes in your stride
Imposter syndrome can be isolating, it breathes life into a never-ending cycle of loneliness bred by fear that one small mistake can change everything. If you are constantly worried someone might uncover your perceived truth of being a fraud, it is natural to prefer working alone.
However, mistakes are a natural part of any process. No one can do it all and you don’t have to excel at every task you take on.
2) Focus on your strengths
Rather than shrink into yourself like so many report to have done when they face imposter syndrome, develop your talents, leverage the skills you possess and actively reach out for collaboration in the workplace.
People have different strengths for a reason and knowing what yours are is an easy way to develop confidence and combat pesky insecurities.
3) Realise ‘good enough’ is good enough
Seeking perfection can keep you stagnant, make you miss out on an opportunity and stop you from reaching your full potential. It is impossible to be 100% perfect so don’t let the idea of perfection make you feel like there is a shortfall in your abilities or, stop you from producing work that is good enough for the task at hand.
In truth, success doesn’t require perfection, just the commitment to try, grow and continually move forward.
4) Lean on your support network
A support network is one of the best ways to gain perspective and help you contextualise your concerns and feelings of inadequacy.
They can consist of friends you can count on for unbiased advice, colleagues that can attest to your skills or trusted peers you respect, there really are no hard and fast rules here, just that this group can hold you accountable. If you are looking for a support network of your own, Black Women in Real Estate is a great place to start.
5) Acknowledge your feelings but look for proof
Most of the time, imposter syndrome stems from internalised feelings of self-doubt. Unless there is evidence that you are doing a bad job – like a negative review from your manager – chances are there is nothing to add validity to your feelings.
If you consistently receive words of encouragement and positive recognition, that’s a good sign you’re doing plenty right. So, stay data focused because without proof negative feelings are unfounded.
If 75% women experience imposter syndrome there is a high probability your female co-worker feels the same way. Treat yourself and others around you with kindness and compassion and start embracing your wins and capabilities today.
Maya Fowell Senior Manager, Digital Content & Social Media at Greystar