By Kristi Lisbon, Sr. Relationship Director, RPO at Aspiran
I looked up the origin of the quote “Fake it till you make it” and have found many references dating all the way back to Aristotle who is quoted saying: “if a person would act virtuous then they will become virtuous.”
For centuries, we have promoted the idea that we should “fake it” if we lack the skills or qualities we need to succeed (or believe we lack them). I believe that “faking it” drives self-doubt and promotes thoughts that we are not capable or competent versus instilling confidence.
Imposter Syndrome is when a person believes that their success is not earned or validated. According to a study released in 2022 by KPMG, 75% of women in executive roles experience imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. I have experienced this feeling of doubt in my career – worrying that someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say: “We’ve figured it out. You don’t know what you’re doing.”
But the truth is, I do, in fact, know what I’m doing, and so do you. We must remind ourselves that we are strong and competent and have made it this far because we have earned our seat at the table.
Many of us invalidate the fact that we have worked for opportunities and we are capable. The opportunities have not been given; they have been earned. I will admit that I am still a work in progress – I believe we all are! However, I have learned to stop and cope with the negative thoughts before they become debilitating.
Here are 3 tips that I use to recenter myself when the feeling of imposter syndrome creeps in:
1. Lean into your experience and knowledge. You have made it to where you are today because you’re capable and have demonstrated your value through your experience and knowledge. When you’re unsure of yourself or nervous, take a moment to reflect on experiences you’ve had that led you to this point in your career, such as projects you’ve completed, relationships you’ve built, or your education.
Also, it’s okay to not know everything. Learn where you can find the resources to get the knowledge and tools that you feel you might be lacking. These are the two most critical foundations of success – using your knowledge and knowing where to get knowledge.
2. Find a cheerleader AND someone who calls you on your BS. Talk to someone you can trust, whether a mentor, colleague, boss, friend, or family member. It helps to verbalize your fears with someone with your best interest at heart, talk through why you’re having these feelings and how you can manage them. Speak to someone who will shut down these negative thoughts and support you.
I want to note that this is not to encourage you or suggest we should seek validation from others to build confidence. This is simply an opportunity to share and discuss some of the struggles or challenges you might be feeling to someone there to listen, support you, and help you create solutions.
3. Stop the negative self-talk – even to make a joke. You know when you were little, and you stuck out your tongue or made a face and your mom said, “If you make that face long enough, it will stay that way.” Negative self-talk is the same. If you say or think negative things about yourself long enough, you will start to believe them.
Questioning your capabilities does not make you incapable. It makes you human. As women, we have been programmed to believe that boasting or leading with pride are negative traits. We have seen our ancestors hide in the shadows and purposefully not take credit for all they have done.
We must stop believing that confidence and pride are bad traits for women and that we do not deserve promotions, leadership roles or accolades. If you feel imposter syndrome sneaking up on you, take some time to step back, assess what might be causing it and find tools within yourself and your community to help push forward.