Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace

Learn How to Combat Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace.

For many of us, imposter syndrome starts in college (or earlier!) and follows us into the workplace, and can inhibit our professional growth.

If you are suffering from imposter syndrome, you’re not alone. Many leaders and successful entrepreneurs and business people are known to suffer from imposter syndrome. According to The Internal Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people at some point in their life suffer from imposter syndrome.

As design thinkers, our job isn’t constant. We don’t produce the same work every time, and as a result, it’s common for us to experience a feeling of “less than” or “not belonging” throughout our careers. This feeling is natural, and even the most self-aware among us need to gather our strength to overcome these emotions. For us, we must first aim to understand why we feel these emotions.

Understand the Why Behind the Emotions

In life, often when we experience imposter syndrome, we’re comparing our chapter with someone else’s chapter. This comes from a statement made by Theodore Roosevelt during his presidential term in which he stated “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

When we enter a new field, sometimes we feel the need to compare ourselves to those currently occupying other positions and we encourage ourselves to keep up. We don’t want to let ourselves and others around us down, and as a result, we’re much harder on ourselves to produce quality work.

We stay in our own heads and begin to question our own abilities and wonder what someone would do if they found out we didn’t have the slightest idea what we were doing.

But how can we overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace?

Four Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

1: Market Yourself Based on Value

Maybe you don’t have all the credentials someone believes they need when looking for a specific person to fill a position. On the bright side, oftentimes, you still may possess all the skills and other qualifications they need but not the title or degree. As Avaree Pink-Lewin states, “You need to be able to speak to how you can provide value despite not being the exact product somebody is looking for.” This gives you the strength to admit to where you may fall short while clearly expressing the strengths and abilities you have and how they’ll help you still meet their goals and expectations.

2: Be Confident

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and remember that you were hired for a specific reason, and you have marketable skills and experiences they need.

Remind yourself:

  • “I’m here for a reason.”
  • “I’m here to make a difference.”
  • “I’m here to make an impact.”
  • “I was hired for a specific purpose.”

This is a great framework to leverage as a way to reframe how you feel when you’re feeling out of place.

3: Embrace the Phase of Learning

To overcome imposter syndrome, you’re going to have to learn something new. Therefore, it’s essential you accept the phase of learning and position yourself in a way that allows you to learn something new. You will also have to lean on your strengths and get extra education and assistance with those areas in which you feel weak.

4: Learn From Those Around You

Take a look at those in the room around you and learn from them. Learn what they’ve done right and what they’ve done wrong. Leverage these insights and identify ways you can translate this data into your own actions and experiences.

Don’t Let it Hold You Back

Sometimes we let imposter syndrome get in the way of our career’s progression. Many times what you need to get that raise or promotion you’ve been longing for is to simply get out there and just ask for it or just apply for another position at a higher salary level. When you don’t let imposter syndrome get in your way and instead keep learning and growing, you’ll continue to succeed without it holding you back.

Final Thoughts

Getting out of our own heads is very difficult. However, once we learn to not compare and compete, but gain perspective instead, we will become stronger, more independent people. Most importantly, we must learn to be confident in ourselves and our abilities and not actually “fake it until we make it’’ but embrace who we are and what we bring to the table.

So here’s your daily reminder to be open and vulnerable and don’t resist the need to change.

Please follow Jeff and big on Twitter.

Previously Published Top Posts…

  1. Embracing & Understanding Failures

2. How to Integrate Design Thinking Into Your Work

Educator + Entrepreneur who lives for the “aha!” moment. Co-Founder @theberkeleyinnovationgroup, @healthcarebydesign. Lecturer of Design Thinking @BerkeleyHaas.