Over the past few years, the term ‘imposter syndrome’ became a very popular term amongst workers and leaders.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is basically a fear of being a fraud, a fear of not being good enough for the position you have or for the work you do.

It’s constant stress and fear that at any given moment, people are going to find out you’re a fraud, that you don’t deserve the position you have, or that you don’t know how to do the job you were given.

You think those around you are better, they deserve their positions, and you’re the only one that doesn’t.

Lack of confidence or imposter syndrome?

Since it became popular, many people started confusing the actual imposter syndrome with regular and normal feelings of doubt when something unknown is coming.

Confident people are confident in their skills and in their ability to do their job well. They have successfully proved their value, so they know they’re good enough.

However, when they’re put into unknown situations, they tend to compare themselves to others, since they don’t know just yet how good they actually are in that specific situation.

Confidence shouldn’t be based on comparison to others, it should be based on the knowledge and skills you have.

That’s where most successful high achievers who are normally confident start struggling with doubt and confusing it with imposter syndrome.

When a new challenge occurs, a new position, a new project they’ve never done before, a new audience, they start fearing the unknown.

They’ve never been in that situation and they’ve never had to do that, so they can’t be fully confident that they’ll do the job well. They can’t know for sure their skills are good enough since they’ve never had the opportunity to see that.

So, they think that’s imposter syndrome.

However, it’s usually just regular doubt.

It’s completely normal to not be 100% confident in yourself when you’re facing something for the first time. Just give it some time. Give yourself time to see the position or the project, and to adapt to it.

When you do, you’ll soon realize the value you bring is more than enough and that you should be confident in your skills.

When you’re presented with a new opportunity, position, a job, or a responsibility, all you need to do is create an effective strategy.

If you don’t have a strategy and a plan, you won’t be able to be fully confident, because you won’t know what to do and how to do it. That’s when you might start thinking you have imposter syndrome.

But, you’re not an imposter, and you may not have imposter syndrome at all. You might just need a clear and actionable plan and a strategy to regain your confidence and see your value.

Imposter syndrome is generally a long-term condition, that can range in severity. In severe conditions, if left unchecked it can further impact on upon your mental health, and in the most severe cases be accompanied by disorders of anxiety, panic attacks, depression and/or stress. However, for a majority of the professional population experiencing the syndrome, many are referring to the milder form of the condition which presents with symptoms such as recurrent anxiety and stress.

So, if you’re usually confident, and you only start lacking in confidence when you’re shown a new challenge, it’s very possible you don’t have imposter syndrome, but regular doubt.

Confidence is fueled with proof of value – you bring the results, you do your job well, you have the skills and knowledge needed.

So, when a new citation occurs and you don’t have “proof” that you know how to do it (yet), you don’t have your full confidence.

But, it’s completely normal, and you’ll regain your confidence as soon as you create an effective strategy and actually start doing the job you were given.

All leaders and high achievers are constantly being challenged with new opportunities and new projects. So, you need to know how to deal with them calmly.

Your skills and value are there, no matter what situation you’re in. Try to remember that the next time a new position is presented to you and you start fearing you have imposter syndrome.

You should look at every new opportunity with excitement and not anxiety. Think of it as a new opportunity to showcase your value, and to strengthen your leadership skills. That’s the mindset all high achievers should have.

If you’re a woman in a c-suite or senior executive role and you’re ready to expand your leadership, better navigate politics and, gain clarity on what’s holding you back so that you can make a bigger impact in your career, apply for a complimentary consultation here.

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