To all the blaggers, fakers, and lucky-breakers.
Be kind to yourself.
One day, I’ll be rumbled. It will happen in a big meeting – ten people and a plate of pret sandwiches will witness the end of my career. I’ll say something so silly that they’ll know for sure I don’t belong here.
If that all sounds a bit familiar, and you’re worried your own jig may soon be up – you’re not alone. In fact, over a hundred of us ‘imposters’ gathered on a cold January night to get help with the little problem in our heads. The free session was run by She Says, a network for women in the creative industry, and led by Alison Green, a charismatic coach with years of leadership experience. And she still gets imposter syndrome too.
In fact, many high-flyers in our group said that the more senior they got, their feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy actually intensified. It can be lonely at the top. Especially as a woman, working in an industry where just 12% of Creative Directors are female. With the odds already stacked against us, self-limiting beliefs are the last thing we need.
So it’s time to get that beast in check. Step one – know your enemy. We were asked to visualise our imposter syndrome, and the results were pretty terrifying. Here’s what me and my Art Director Anna are bringing to work every day:
Coming to a nightmare near you, Silent Sue and White Noise hamper creativity, and drown out any ability to think clearly. We’re left with a blank mind and blank page in front of us. We don’t want to get rid of them entirely, as that little dose of doubt gives you humility and shows you’re still open to learning, but we can’t let them take over. So here are some of the ways Alison suggested keeping them in their place:
Think about your strengths
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt, pause for a moment to think about your strengths. What unique qualities do you bring to work with you?
Don’t say “I’ll wait till I’m ready”
It’s tempting to coast along in your comfort zone, and wait until you’re more senior to put yourself forward for the scary stuff. But the day you feel completely competent will most likely never come. So go for it today.
Be kinder to yourself
There is a tendency for women to attribute their successes to external factors, but view failures as a reflection on their own abilities. Recognise how unfair this thought pattern really is. Let yourself make mistakes and give yourself the credit you deserve.
Be more Michelle
Michelle Obama shared her secret with women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at non-profits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N – they are not that smart.”
So the next time your imposter rears their ugly head, remember the rest of the room has a beast on their shoulder too. How you manage yours, can change the course of your career.