‘What am I doing here? I have been lucky so far in my career. I am going to be caught out, and they will find out that I don’t know what I am doing!’ The anxious voice inside your head that is the impostor syndrome.
If you are a high achieving female, you are even more prone to it. You consistently attribute your success to external factors; you just cannot help it.
Self-doubt and insecurities is a normal part of any career. The key question is how do you respond to this emotion. Do you accept it and allow it to take up space in your life, or do you use it to propel yourself forward?
If we completely reject the impostor syndrome and adopt a view of ‘I am the master of this craft, I have nothing more to learn,’ we would be overconfident, and there is a danger to that.
Here are Four Ways How The Impostor Syndrome Can Help Your Career
Your learning agility will remain high
When you feel like you do not know enough about a particular topic, you can leverage this insecurity and channel it into growth and learning. Instead of allowing this feeling to cripple you, embrace it.
I discussed with a senior technology manager, about how I ‘google’ technology topics all the time. He proceeded to advise me that there is nothing wrong with that, up until today he is always reading from various sources about new technologies and attends training on new technologies all the time. Because it is such as a fast paced industry, he must read to be up to date with the latest trends. On the outside, this person looks like a technology power house. However, the fact of the matter is that he puts in a lot of effort to stay abreast, and he is a highly credible individual.
Having a little insecurity can drive you to learn and apply yourself more.
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If you have all the answers, you are in a comfort zone
Being comfortable and knowing all the answers, means that you are in your comfort zone. Extremely limited growth and learning can happen when you are in your comfort zone. Reject the comfort zone, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
That drive in your belly when you feel ‘uh oh, I need to learn that,’ that is a good thing! That is where the magic happens.
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When you have that ‘uh oh’ feeling and you embrace it, you go off to learn, you self-teach, and you come back over prepared. Going away and learning, is a good thing because you acknowledge that you do not have the answers, and you went away and applied yourself to the topic. How many times, have you come across individuals who ‘know it all’ – but then they have missed key points on a subject because they were just too arrogant to open their minds and go and prepare? Going away and learning is a behaviour we should all adopt.
You know what you don’t know
Impostor syndrome mostly happens to individuals who are high achieving and have set the bar high. They know what they do not know. People who are low achievers rarely have the impostor syndrome, sometimes they do not know what they don’t know and couldn’t be bothered.
In fact, the more an individual becomes knowledgeable in a topic, the more the impostor syndrome grows. Because, as you reach higher levels of knowledge, you realise what more you need to know. This need to know more, is partly why it plagues high achievers.
Own your successes, but don’t get too complacent
If you are never an impostor, you need to reassess your career. Are you in a comfort zone? The rate of change is so fast; robotics is entering every industry and job that there is. “Robots are currently analyzing documents, filling prescriptions, and handling other tasks that were once exclusively done by humans”, says Judith Aquino.
The impostor syndrome can have a positive impact if you use it as fuel. It keeps your mind open, fresh and eager to learn something new.
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