Getting Past Imposter Syndrome

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Imposter Syndrome

People Are People Are People

Today, I want to take a moment to talk about the elephant in the room. The thing that many clients, colleagues, and co-conspirators of mine experience, but shy away from discussing. That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

Imposter syndrome.

There, I said it! It’s out there, in the open. Now, let’s dig in! At the end of the day, no matter how many high-powered, important-sounding, executive-level individuals we encounter throughout our workday and careers – people are people are people.

That Nasty Little Beast, Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is that nervous, anxious feeling at the back of your mind or in the pit of your stomach that sits there nagging at you. “You’re a little bit out of your element here, aren’t you? You don’t really deserve a seat at this table, do you? You’re just you – look at these people! They’re smart; they’ve got it together; they’re important! What have you got to show that’s going to impress these folks?”

Yeah – not a very nice voice to have to listen to in the back of your mind, is it?

Imposter Syndrome Hides Out

I decided to take a moment to chat about imposter syndrome because I recently had a run-in with it myself. I’d started working with a client that was by all rights a pretty big deal for The Marketing Girl to collaborate with. In the midst of our initial meeting, one of my core solutions came under fire. I started hearing that little voice in the back of my mind and second-guessing my entire process.

In the moment, I proudly stood firm to my solution and expressed my reasoning. As the conversation went back and forth with the client, that little voice grew louder and my confidence dwindled. Maybe they’re right. What if I don’t know what I’m talking about? Maybe I don’t know quite as much as I think I do. What am I doing wrong?? That’s imposter syndrome right there, at its finest.

Here’s the secret, though: you don’t have to let it win.

When it comes to dealing with imposter syndrome, remember this: you’ve got a seat at the table because you’ve earned it. Period.

Pushing Past the Panic

Of course, if the answer to beating imposter syndrome was as simple as that, I wouldn’t need to be writing a blog! Being as that’s certainly not the case, I’ll take a moment to lean on some expert advice to tackle this complex conundrum, starting with one of my favourite thought-leaders: Brené Brown.

In her bestselling book Dare to Lead, Brown recounts the tale of her first big presentation earlier in her career. Heading into the event, she had been briefed that the audience would be full of sea-men, as in Navy men. “No biggie,” she thought, “I’ve got this.” In the greenroom, however, Brown realized that the audience wasn’t full of sailors looking to get a bit of a pep-talk – it was instead entirely made up of C-level executives – yikes!

It was at that moment that Brown began to feel the familiar doubting energy of imposter syndrome setting in. Who was she, anyway, to be advising these incredibly successful individuals on how to better themselves in leadership?

Looking out at the crowd in mounting panic, Brown suddenly picked out a familiar face amongst the rest: her neighbour. Brown knew her to be a successful lawyer but also in the midst of a less-than-amicable divorce. It suddenly hit her: everyone out there was just a person, precisely the same as her neighbour. They were all just people with their own flaws and strengths, hopes and dreams, successes and stumblings.

Everyone is Just Someone

With this notion in mind – that everyone out there is just a person the same as you or me – the playing field is suddenly leveled. Circling back to my own experience meeting with my client, I was able to remind myself that nobody (not even a C-level executive!) has any sort of special, innate privilege or attribute that grants them a seat at the table while invalidating my own. They’re there because of their circumstances. Their hard work, their experience, their past accomplishments – had brought them there, just as mine had led me to the same place. Just like me, everyone I work with – my team, my clients, my colleagues – are all people.

All of this thinking can be boiled down to one simple sentiment – and I’ll say it again for those in the back:

You’ve got a seat at the table because you earned it. Period. 

We are All People

That doesn’t mean that everything you say and do in your line of work is unimpeachable though At the end of the day, you’re just a person, too! The key to successfully beating back imposter syndrome comes through walking that fine line between confidence and humility. It means believing in your own informed expertise and maintaining a willingness to learn and grow. If you can accomplish that and – to loosely quote Dave Hollis – can get out of your own way, you’ll be able to learn, grow, and evolve yourself to be happier, more successful, and less susceptible to that nagging, doubting voice in the back of your mind.

We’re all just people, after all!

If you appreciate this approach to tackling imposter syndrome, you’ll love the forward-thinking strategic vision we bring to igniting your brand here at The Marketing Girl. Give us a call today and learn more about how we can help you set the spark that will make your marketing truly shine in radiant, dazzling brilliance.

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