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No Need for Imposter Syndrome. No One Else is YOU!

Comparing yourself to others and comparing other people to each other isn't kind. And it leads to all kinds of problems stemming from competition. Including Imposter Syndrome.

Have you ever been the victim of Imposter Syndrome?

So many people that I speak with (especially women...even those in longstanding leadership roles) tell me that they are plagued by Imposter Syndrome: the feeling that they aren't really worthy of the role that they have, that they aren't actually qualified to do the job they are doing...and that if someone just scratches the surface, they will find out that they're really just pretending...that they are an imposter!

Where does Imposter Syndrome come from? It is rooted in competition, and in feeling the need to compare yourself to others, or to someone else's ideas and ideals about how different roles should be done. Perhaps when you were growing up, a parent or caregiver told you what it took to be a "good ____________" (fill in the blank of any role of job here: daughter, person, team member or sports captain)...and then told you how you fell short. Those words you heard in childhood can stick in your mind and become the negative self talk that you hear when you're leading a team at work now.

Then maybe you took classes and courses at college in which you read traditional leadership books that told you what "good leadership looks like": results-oriented and focused, strong and demanding, driven, focused on being number matter what. And maybe you worked in environments in which leaders actions, reactions and words reinforced those values. But they weren't your values. Your way of leading. The way you want to have others experience work and the world around them.

Chances are, when you got your leadership role, that dissonance between what those textbooks and professors said (after all, they are the authorities, right?) made those little voices in your head grow from a whisper to a chorus: "You can't possibly be a leader because you don't believe in all of those things...and even though the results you are getting are great...and your people are happy...someone is eventually going to find out...".

If you are suffering from (and with) Imposter Syndrome right now, I'd like you to reframe your thinking. Instead of comparing yourself to others, and someone else's idea of whatever your role or job is and how it should be done, focus on your ideas, experience and beliefs. Since there is only one you, and you are unique, when you just focus on being truly you, it's impossible to have Imposter Syndrome.

Reducing and eliminating the feelings of Imposter Syndrome can take time. And practice. The first thing to do is become conscious that you feel that way. Once you are conscious of those feelings, you can work on eliminating them, through self kindness!

Here are some practical ways to be kind to yourself and others to reduce competition and to reduce and eliminate the feeling of Imposter Syndrome.

  1. Don't compare yourself to others. When you hear that little voice in your head saying, "But Joe is....", stop yourself and say, "I'm not Joe...I'm ____. I don't need to compare myself. I just need to BE MYSELF.

  2. Don't compare others to others. Pay attention to metrics you are using on your team. Remove those that compare one person to another. Focus on those that show people how they are doing improving against themselves!

  3. Focus on your unique experience. No one else is you. No one else has had your experiences and that makes you uniquely positioned to help others

  4. Celebrate people's unique differences and contributions. Help your team members and your family members feel good about their uniqueness by complimenting and celebrating their efforts as well as their accomplishments!

  5. Remind yourself daily that YOU are EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE! And that the world needs your contribution.

Please remember, you don't need to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Be yourself, stay true to your beliefs and values, and if they don't match the organization that you are with, find one that does! Because you aren't an imposter. You are you!


To learn more about the unkind effects of competition, and how alleviate them, please see Chapters 7 and 8 of The Kind Leader: A Practical Guide to Eliminating Fear, Creating Trust and Leading with Kindness.

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