We’ve all heard Descartes’ famous quote “I think, therefore I am”. It is something we hear all the time as an ode to self confidence—but what if it goes deeper than simple insecurity?
Did you know that up to 70% of people will, at some point in their lives, experience what is called Impostor Syndrome? As a take on Descartes’ famous quote ,“I am, but I don’t think I should be”
Impostor Syndrome plagues high achievers, those who have the expertise, skills and potential to be great—but doubt that they do. It’s the constant fear of being “found out”, of someone discovering that you are not in fact cut out for the job. But how do you keep these thoughts from sabotaging your success?
Maya Angelou once said “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “—imagine if she had listened to that little voice? We would have been robbed of one of the most beautiful writers of our time.
How did she do it? How can you do it?
Own Your Own Success
You didn’t get here by accident. Most people experiencing impostor syndrome attribute their successes to outside sources like luck or a helping hand. Don’t fall for it. It was your idea in that book, it was your dedication to the project, it was your resume and you in the interview.
High achievers tend to focus more on what they haven’t done, or haven’t accomplished rather than on what they have. While accountability is a virtue when it comes to our mistakes, we often forget to give our successes the same treatment.
In those moments of self-doubt, try writing a list of your accomplishments. Do not attempt to minimize them, as much as you may like to. I actually integrate this practice into my daily life. Whenever I get what I call a “big win” in my career—a quote in an article, a promotion, a big sale—I write them down immediately and I celebrate that success. This way, if ever I am in doubt, I can remind myself of all of my “big wins” with minimal effort.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
There will always be someone more successful than you are, but you cannot let this impede your efforts. You have to remember that, as in the last step, people are more likely to concentrate on their own failures while others see only their accomplishments. This means while you are admiring how great Mary is at closing a deal, she is admiring how well you can generate a lead. We all have our own strengths. Focus on yours. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Don’t Let It Hold You Back
Often times, to avoid being “found out”, high achievers settle for less than their potential. Don’t do it. Don’t let your thoughts sabotage your success. Do not stay in the safe zone. Of course you are stronger than your thoughts—you created them.
Take risks, fail, succeed—jump into the unknown. The more opportunities you seize, the more chance you have to succeed. At the very least, you will have learned something in the process.
Did I know I would succeed when I left a prestigious national position to start GoWrenchAuto.com? No, but I had faith in my idea, and I understood that my success or failure was entirely dependent on my own efforts. So I took the plunge and never looked back. You can too.