I have a confession, and it has to do with being an impostor.
Michelle Obama felt like an impostor. It all comes down to a psychological condition called “Imposter Syndrome.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one's abilities, or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one's ongoing success.
It's the truth. There are so many people who are feeling like impostors. So many powerful women have felt like impostors or currently feel like an impostor.
Do you feel like an impostor?
Let me share my personal experience.
Many times in my career and in my life, I have felt like I didn't belong. I have felt that I wasn’t good enough. It often came from me and the worst was when other people told me that I didn’t belong.
When I was a young girl, about 11, I was really succeeding and leading the way in soccer. I was noticed for my ability by an indoor soccer boys team that invited me to come and play with them. I was excited because this was going to be a higher level of challenge for me. I was honored to be invited.
When I showed up there, I worried, “Oh, my goodness, I have to step up to this level. Can I?”
*insert imposter syndrome*
I see a gym full of boys and soccer balls and we start practicing. When we get into pair work, no one wants to do the drills with me! I really started to feel like I didn't belong. That I wasn’t wanted there.
Maybe you felt this way at some point in your life. You weren't allowed to be there. People didn't want you there or maybe you just weren't good enough to be there, so you self-sabotage your way out of being there.
Because I was young and I still had a little bit of naive confidence, even though they didn't want to pair with me, I thought, “Okay, well, I'm still here, so I'm still gonna practice.” In the end, the coach had to put his son with me because no one would pair up with me.
I heard the murmurs. Maybe you have heard them too. Maybe it was the truth. Maybe it wasn't the truth.
Sadly, we murmur to ourselves the most, judging ourselves, doubting ourselves THE MOST.
Have you heard these? Have you felt these?
What happened for me was a lesson and maybe a lesson for the boys, who knows. The coach sat everyone down and said, “The reason why Diane is here is because she's a really good player.”
Nothing. No reaction. They didn't care. Then, the next comment was, “You should be glad she is here because she's going to help us do well.” Again, for their benefit. They didn't care. But the last comment was a little bit of a poke to them. He said, “And to be honest, she’s probably better than most of you here.”
Well, saying to a group that you’re better than them is a way to not belong. But hey, at least I knew that the coach wanted me to be there.
How many times in your life and in your business have you got to that place of these questions?
Women and Imposter Syndrome
The sad thing is imposter syndrome is probably holding you back. It has held me back. Now, where does Michelle Obama come in here? Well, former US First Lady Michelle Obama was speaking to some girls and she urged them to resist imposter syndrome.
Why did she say that? Because she felt it on the way up the ladder, as Barack was going up, what happened? She felt like she had to fight men for power. She had to prove herself all the time.
Until we as women step up into who we were meant to be, until we are unapologetically ourselves, until we really take ownership of the amazing things that we have done, we can suffer from impostor syndrome.
There are many negative problems that come from imposter syndrome:
The Stark difference between Men and Women
A Business Insider study said that men and women view success differently. Men believe that success comes from their innate skills and talents. Women believe that their success comes from luck and help from others. If our success comes from luck and help from others, no wonder we feel like impostors because we are saying that the only reason why we succeed is because someone helped us. So we aren’t the lead of our own success.
I don't know how many times the clients I work with reach a level of success, win an award, and they still think that they only got there because of other people. Maybe they got there with some help from other people, but not completely.
If you run a team yourself, you are the one to lead them to greatness. Yes, you could have great people on your team to take ownership and celebrate the things that you did.
The other thing that is going to happen is how are we ever going to be paid equally to men if we don't own that we actually belong at that level. There was another study that I read. It said something like, a woman feels she needs 80% and above qualifications for a role or a position before she'll apply.
Sometimes it even takes the urging of a mentor or someone else in the company in order to get her to go for it. This also includes my clients who were speakers. They don't go for certain projects, engagements, keynotes, and conferences because they feel like they're not good enough.
So not getting paid the same, not going for opportunities that are the same.
The other thing is, how are we ever going to have more women in high-up leadership positions if we continue to feel like we're an imposter. Now, it's one thing to think, “Oh, I'm slightly under where I need to be” and that's fine, but it's another to limit yourself.
In that same study that I read where a woman feels she needs 80% and above qualifications for a role or a position before she'll apply, it's only 20% for men. If a man has 20% of the qualifications for that role, that position, that engagement, that board spot, whatever it may be, he only needs 20% of the skills to say to himself, “I'm going to step into that.”
Now, this is a complete blanket generalization. I get that. But it was a fact that I read. And I see it play out over and over and over and over and over in my female clients, in the women in my Dynamic Women® Community, even in the successful women that I interview on my Dynamic Women® Podcast, the women in my collaborative books, they still feel like impostors.
It often comes from a limiting belief.
The number one limiting belief according to the research Brene Brown is, “I am not enough.” This is basically feeling like you are an impostor.
Thai happens no matter your level of success because every time you push yourself to the next limit, you move yourself out of your comfort zone. I do this all the time, maybe you do too. Then I have that second... that moment of “Am I really meant to be here? Have I really deserved this position?”
Do you know what I changed it to? Absolute immense gratitude.
I'm constantly presented with the option of choosing impostor syndrome every time I push you out of my boundaries, and the same goes for you. When you level up, you have that moment where you’re going to feel like an impostor. But you also have the chance to choose gratitude. You also have the chance to create the most magnificent plan to step into that next level and to feel more confident there. BUT:
So if you ever feel like an impostor or if you feel like you're an impostor in one or more areas of your life, I'm telling you, it's okay. It's totally okay. It's about boosting your confidence so that you can own that position. That you can be there and be your most brilliant self.
You and I are not really impostors. We're just holding ourselves back, but not anymore...
P.S. You can still get the Confidence Fast Start! It’s a box full of experiential items that can help you build confidence!
Read my other blogs here:
1. Confidence is Sexy - when worn right!
2. The Power of Baby Steps
3. The Secret to Staying Positive and Passionate
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