75% of people report high levels of imposter syndrome.

Another shocking finding from our first cut of the Courageous Success global #beyourselfatwork survey.

Self-doubt is at an all-time high.  I shared the first survey results at last weeks HRD Summit, and a live poll of the audience of 200 plus senior People and Culture experts, asking them what stops them being their best selves at work, revealed the number one answer as being confidence.

So, if we feel like imposters and lack confidence, who are we being? In my experience, absolutely everybody is making it up as they go along. The ones that accept this fact and embrace it, see their careers sky rocket as they trust themselves to get it right and make a difference. We talk a lot about trust at work at the moment but how much should we be talking about trusting ourselves? A lot would be my answer!

Imposter syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and insecurity, a creeping or sudden fear about our skills and abilities, forgetting we have them and thinking ‘I’m going to get found out’, caused by negative belief about ourselves and our abilities, all whilst comparing ourselves to others or some amazing image of who we think we should be.
Many of us are trapped in unhelpful habits that sabotage us and stop us being the best person we can be.  We find it all too easy to find fault with and be negative about ourselves.  But we still expect so much from ourselves and then judge ourselves harshly.

If we are unkind to ourselves, we get trapped into self-negativity, feeding our limiting beliefs, creating a vicious circle of not feeling good about ourselves, so no wonder our self-confidence is low.  If we are treating ourselves like this, we will never be able to be the best we can be to those around us, our families, our job, our work colleagues, or on any positive impact we’d like to make in the world, whether large or small.

This quote from William Sieghart author of The Poetry Pharmacy sums this up nicely
”…there is a small, wide-eyed animal within each of us that doesn’t understand why we keep kicking it.”

If the animal inside you represents the joy of being you, your confident self, your wide-eyed innocence & excitement about the world, and you are regularly kicking it, what is the impact?   If you keep kicking, will the wide-eyed animal shrink, wither, be scared, vulnerable, disengage and hide from the world and become broken? Does this small animal represent your self-belief?

As Michelle Obama said whilst on her book tour last year  ”my advice … is that you have to start by getting those demons out of your head. The questions I ask myself – ‘am I good enough?’ – that haunt us…’’

Here are some tips to help…

  • Reflect on who you think you should be to look successful and competent.  Then ignore this!
  • Take note of all the things that you have been told you are, the labels, then, in your mind, blow them into smoke.
  • Write a list of what makes you good within your work world and keep these things front of mind, using the positive energy to fuel your confidence.
  • Build a strong relationship with yourself.  Create a habit of positive self-talk, spend positive and productive time getting to know and experiencing you.
  • At the end of each day, list three things that went really well because of you.
  • Don’t rely on knowledge and data totally to do your job, trust yourself too. Where things aren’t your strength, do your best or get someone else to help you.  It’s OK not to be great at everything.  Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect, no-one is.
  • Recognise your strengths and play to them.  Amplify the things that you are good at.
  • Use your heart and your kind actions, to support your self-esteem and know that the very best person you can be is yourself.