Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jenn Labin of T.E.R.P. Associates
There was one specific moment when I almost quit. I nearly walked away from everything I had spent the better part of a decade building. I was sitting on my bed, crying. No . . . strike that. I was sobbing. I was on the phone with my mentor and had my laptop open, showing the results of a workshop I had recently presented. The ratings were horrible, downright embarrassing. As soon as I saw those results, I started imagining what sorts of alternative careers might be open to me.
Lucky for me, my mentor stepped in. She helped me look more closely at the results, and we saw that only 9 people out of the 250 people in the room had submitted evaluation forms, and only 4 evaluations were negative! It turns out, that year was the first time the event organizers had used digital evaluation forms, and very few people could figure out how to submit their responses.
Before my mentor helped me change my perspective, I had managed to tell myself a sad story about epic failure and mass rejection. But that was Impostor Syndrome talking. Since that time, I’ve had many opportunities to learn how to overcome this debilitating problem.
The thing about Impostor Syndrome is, it doesn’t always show up in the same way. Sometimes it rushes upon you like a panic attack. Sometimes there’s a slow and steady chorus of, “Why am I here? Who would want to hear what I have to say? Who do I think I am?” Yet other times, Impostor Syndrome manifests as procrastination, giving you an inexplicable need to organize your office, respond to Facebook posts, wash your laundry, and plan a party that is scheduled for two months from now.
Your version may look different from these descriptions, but one thing is constant: Impostor Syndrome ultimately gets in the way of our best work.
With my work in mentoring programs and leadership development, I get to meet many people from a wide range of demographics. What I’ve found is that Impostor Syndrome doesn’t differentiate based on title or gender. I’ve seen Executive Regional Vice Presidents and frontline managers alike question their contributions to the organizations they work for.
By drawing on a few more personal experiences of Impostor Syndrome and the experiences of many dozens of coaching clients, I’d like to share some of the methods that can help you defeat it.