Overcoming imposter syndrome
A few months ago, I was approached by our Cisco partners to speak at an upcoming Cisco Women of Impact online event. When I met in advance with Cisco to discuss the topic for my discussion, they suggested Imposter Syndrome as the topic. I said yes, we firmed up the date and then I was left to prepare.
And then I spent time second guessing myself, including my ability to address this topic, to bring value to the attendees through my participation, and ultimately, I felt unsure if I could deliver! Yes, I have been presenting at conferences and meetings all over North America for almost two decades. I teach and facilitate sessions, have been interviewed on podcasts, interview others on my own videos, sit on Boards and Steering Committees and so forth. This kind of activity is not new to me. And yet, I wondered if I could be successful. Why? Simple. I was exhibiting imposter syndrome: Feeling unworthy of my accomplishments, unequal to the opportunities that I have earned, uncertain about my success when I have proven I can be successful.
If you think imposter syndrome or uncertainty is unique, let me assure you it is not! The reality is that many people, and predominantly women, have experienced imposter syndrome, feel it is posing a challenge in their career journey, and are seeking a means to manage their understanding and approach to handling it. The good news is that we can move past this if we understand it — and we can excel in spite of it!
While preparing for the event, I came across an interesting Harvard Business Review (HBR) article entitled “stop-telling-women-they-have-imposter-syndrome” (love the title) suggesting that the concept of “imposter syndrome” was developed in the 70s specifically to explain away many biases in the workplace that resulted in predominantly high achieving women feel insecure, uncomfortable, doubting and second guessing themselves.
Ultimately, YOU can be in the driver seat and can take charge of any self-doubt or imposter syndrome you may experience. And take note: research shows embracing our moments of self-doubt may allow us to be more authentic, vulnerable and empathetic to everyone around us. Empathy, being kind, tapping into our own self-awareness through some of the reflective practices I have shared here are steps towards understanding that we ALL have moments of ‘unknowing’ and uncertainty. Let’s continue to be the support that others need from us, just as we should feel comfortable supporting ourselves on this amazing journey of growth and development.gg's blog