Five Strategies to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

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Spread Your Sunshine Founder Melanie S. Griffin, Esq. recently delivered a keynote address to the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers (“CFAWL”). As further detailed in the recording, this presentation helped attendees build their positive mindset by eradicating the fear of failure and fighting Impostor Syndrome. While this program was presented to CFAWL, almost the entire discussion is applicable to professionals across all industries. We therefore hope these ideas help fabulous YOU as you do the hard work on these issues and make the changes necessary to shine your brightest.

Impostor Syndrome Defined

At its heart, Impostor Syndrome is the belief that you are a fraud or not enough, that you are not deserving of your achievements, or when you attribute your successes to luck or fate instead of skill or competence. It is age- and gender-neutral, manifesting in over 70% of Americans at some point during their careers through one or more of the following five profile types: (1) Perfectionist; (2) Superwoman/man; (3) Natural Genius; (4) Soloist; and (5) Expert.

The good news is that Impostor Syndrome does not have to be a permanent condition, it is something you can work to overcome. The key is to keep at it: recognize when the doubt starts to creep in and work to overcome the fear. It’s about practice, repetition, and changing your mindset. To get started, try one or more of the five strategies below.

Educate Yourself & Seek Mentorship

One of the best ways to combat Impostor Syndrome is to arm yourself with knowledge. Pick up a new book or listen to a TED Talk, a podcast, or an eBook--whatever you have time for. What is important is that you take the time to educate and work on yourself. The good news is that given how many resources there are to choose from in today’s technological age – both paper and electronic – you can find resources that best fit your schedule and help you grow, academically, like how to improve your writing; professionally, for example, regarding Tax Breaks and Benefits; and personally, such as how to start a meditation practice.

A great way to expand your reading/listening list is to start with people who inspire you. As those people mention the books, people and resources who inspire them, add them to your list. Keeping the list on your phone is a great way to ensure it is easily accessible when you have a few minutes and need fresh motivation.

An added bonus of educational materials is that they act as a form of mentorship. A mentor does not have to be someone with whom you have a personal relationship. There is much to be learned from blogs, podcasts, online e-courses, and more. The world is your oyster - if there is something you want to learn about, that information is now available to you 24/7. And, if you do have a personal connection, do not be afraid to ask for help for fear of rejection. Most people love to share their advice, you just have to have the courage to ask for it.

Learn from Your "Failures"

The fear of failure can be so crippling that you don’t start new projects or tackle new adventures just because they could turn out badly. But, failure doesn’t need to be a negative experience: you can learn as much from your failures as you do your successes. And, if you do nothing out of fear, then nothing will happen. That means the dream you had stays a dream that is never fulfilled. Instead, dive right in and do the work. Whatever happens, you will have an experience that you will learn from.

Give Yourself Grace

Forgiving yourself can be really hard. So hard, in fact, that you may dwell on personal “failures” for which you would immediately forgive others. Giving yourself grace and letting yourself move on from failures in the past will help you to focus on new ideas instead of dwelling on the negative. Do not let *you* be the obstacle holding *you* back.

Fight Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a hindrance that holds you back in everything you do. Wanting everything to be “just so” will constantly make you think that nothing is ever done. You’ll put off finishing projects, fail to start a project because you’re afraid that whatever you do will not be enough, or live in constant worry that nothing you do lives up to others’ expectations. Fight this urge and work to let the little things go. Sometimes good is good enough. Not all tasks are worthy of 100% of your effort. Discerning trivial tasks from those that are truly important and worthy of your time and talents is what will allow you to move forward and make the biggest impact you can on the community around you.

Create A More Positive Mindset

A positive mindset is a key factor in eradicating Impostor Syndrome. Working on positivity in everything that you do can help you rewire your brain to see problems in a different light. One way to change your mindset is to take a moment to recharge between activities. Think about the way you want to interact with others and how you want those experiences to unfold. By envisioning and intentionally determining your approach, *you* have the ability to choose what kind of day you have, how you feel and how you make others feel in your presence. What an awesome power you have to positively impact everyone around you and have a better view of tasks you otherwise may have dreaded.

To listen to this keynote address in its entirety, please click here or on the video above. And, to stay in touch with Spread Your Sunshine for more awesome inspiration like this, sign-up for our e-newsletter and connect with us on social via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together we are strongest.

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