Overcoming imposter syndrome can be a daunting task, especially when we’re faced with significant events or opportunities to speak on stage or make an impact.
That nagging voice in our head telling us we don’t belong can hinder our confidence and hold us back from reaching our true potential.
But fear not! In this post, we’ll explore three mindset strategies to overcome imposter syndrome and show up as the confident, authentic leader you truly are.
Imposter Syndrome is normal, here’s why
You’re scheduled to speak at a big event and a voice in your head says, “What if I go blank? What if I look like a fool in front of everyone? I don’t know why they invited me, I shouldn’t be here.”
You have approximately 70,000 thoughts a day, 90% are which are repeats, according to UCLA researchers. Imagine repeating, “I shouldn’t be here,” 63,000 times. It’s no wonder you’re feeling like an imposter.
This event is a big deal, but you’re a big deal, too. The organizers invited you because you are the bee’s knees, an expert with incredible insights to share—despite your inner voice telling you otherwise.
That voice in your head has many names in the leadership world: it’s your inner critic, gremlin or lizard brain. I call my inner critic “Timid Lady Gaga.” By simply calling her an ironic, unrealistic name, I’m able to tame the self-limiting claims Timid Lady Gaga makes in an effort to make me small.
As a transformational leadership coach, I’ve had client conversations about this exact thing. I’ve heard:
“My mindset and lack of confidence are affecting my work in so many ways.”
“I’m just feeling stuck and unsure. I want to move forward with direction and purpose, but I can’t decide what to do—how to put one foot in front of the other.”
These are high-achieving, creative leaders at the top of their game. They appear to have it all together.
I’ve had my own coach talk me off the ledge of self-doubt and I want to share my go-to approaches to get out of a self-wallowing, nerve-racked funk before your big event.
But first, a personal story
One day before I was set to host a personal branding workshop in Chicago, I finally admitted to myself that I could not power through a sore throat and massive headache. I was supposed to host 15 creative marketing professionals who were ready to light up the world with their voices, but I was barely able to speak. I needed a quick fix; instead, I received a bronchitis diagnosis and a bag of antibiotics from the immediate care unit.
Have you ever come down with a cold, gotten a horrible night’s sleep or had an unbearable stomach cramp right before a big event or a tough conversation with your boss? Mindset self-sabotage in full effect.
Regardless of my circumstances, I was going to show up. Leadership is showing up as your best self against all odds. This may sound trite in the face of the current trend to be authentic in leadership. But to be a successful, relatable leader and create a strong personal brand, you need to practice intention in how you show up.
If being authentic were easy, then why would anyone need a creative leadership coach? We’d all be pure reflections of our highest and best authentic selves—and that’s not the case, at least not all the time.
But there are ways to generate authenticity, to shift your mindset so the voice in your head stops screaming, “Get out before they discover the real me!”
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3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
1. Create a Relationship with Your Body
Taking care of ourselves is crucial for maintaining a clear, focused mindset. Self-care goes beyond clichés; it’s about cultivating self-love and listening to our bodies. Pay attention to when you need rest, exercise, or simply a moment of hydration. In the realm of self-care, find practices that work for you—whether it’s meditation, blasting energetic music, or quick bursts of physical activity. Keep a handy list of self-care practices on your phone to boost your energy and reinforce self-love.
2. Dress the Part
Your personal brand speaks volumes before you even say a word. Consider how you want to be perceived as a leader and align your appearance, mindset, and presence accordingly. When you walk into a room, people form impressions based on your intention and how you carry yourself. Embrace your personal brand and show up with a positive attitude and an energizing presence. Be intentional about reflecting your authentic self in everything you do.
3. Train Your Mindset
Your mindset is a powerful tool in combating imposter syndrome. Before a significant event or challenge, take a moment to clear your head. Write down any negative thoughts or fears that arise and then rewrite them with a positive intention. Recognize that the critical inner voice is simply your self-doubting side trying to keep you small. Take a deep breath, meditate on your positive intention, and find an activity that boosts your confidence and gets your blood flowing. Remember, training your mindset is an ongoing practice, so consistently challenge self-limiting beliefs and reclaim your power.
Imposter syndrome may be a common struggle, but it doesn’t have to define you. By nurturing a relationship with your body, aligning your personal brand, and training your mindset, you can break free from the shackles of self-doubt. Embrace your brilliance, let go of imposter syndrome, and step into your role as a confident and authentic leader. The world is eagerly waiting to witness your greatness—so show up and shine!
This article was originally featured in MarketingNews from the American Marketing Association