The Struggle with Imposter Syndrome

Hey Google, what is “Imposter Syndrome”?

Recently, someone asked me if I’ve ever dealt with imposter syndrome. I graciously enlightened her with my response: constantly. For those of you wondering, I will save you a trip to Google: “imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persists despite evident success” (Harvard Business Review).

Not only have I dealt with this syndrome, but it popped up just hours before the question was asked to me. Here I was in the final evaluation meeting with my interns and their instructor for the program they were placed through, and despite the fact that we were deep in conversation about the areas that the interns had grown the most, the only thing that I could think about was how the heck am I worthy enough to be sitting here? I mean who am I thinking that I am running some organized, sophisticated internship program that is worthy of a final evaluation? Did they even learn anything this semester? Did I even spend any time with them? Oh my gosh. Make it stop.

Luckily I was able to rein it in about the same time that one of the interns started sharing how much he grew as a person this semester. In all honesty, this is why I have continued to hire interns semester after semester. As much as I love being able to leverage free help and offer up direct access and experience into the world of sports, it’s really the mentorship that fires me up. And yet here I was, about to almost miss one of the highlights of the meeting because I was caught up in my own imposter syndrome.

This leads me to focusing on the real question, how do you handle it? I will share the very same advice that I offered up to my dear go-getter, wise beyond her years friend: you need to know who you are and who you are not. Plain and simple. A lot of times imposter syndrome pops up because we truly don’t know who we are, what we’re on this earth to do, or where we are going next. Therefore when we reach that pinnacle of “success” it’s hard to believe that we’re worthy of actually achieving this.

you need to know who you are and who you are not.”

Getting to the Root of the Syndrome

Here’s a little exercise I encourage you to try – write/type out your answers and keep them handy. If you’re really committed to overcoming the doubt and fully embracing who you are, then re-read them every morning (Note: the first and last 15 minutes of your day are powerful). 

  1. How would you describe who you are as a person? (motivated, lazy, determined, ambitious)
  2. What are your personal values? (joy, adventure, integrity, honesty, faith)
  3. What is your personal mission statement?
  4. What is your WHY? (what gets you out of bed in the morning, especially on the hard days)
  5. What do you believe in?
  6. Who are you when you show up as the best version of yourself?
  7. Who are you NOT?
  8. What are the bad habits or qualities that show up when you’re not acting as the best version of yourself?
  9. Are you self-aware enough to realize when you’re not acting as the best version of yourself?
  10. What are the tools that you have to check yourself when necessary? (self-awareness, therapist, friend, mentor, journaling thoughts)

Once you are able to work through this list, it’s time to get to work on your mindset. Forewarning: it takes intentional and real work. Just like anything else in life, in order to achieve a mindset that will actually allow you to go to bat with things like imposter syndrome, you have to commit. Just like with any lifestyle change involving your body, diet, career, habits, etc., you’re going to have to put forth the effort. Start to take inventory of what you feed your mind. Just like they say “you are what you eat”… also, “you are what you think”.

“Just like they say ‘you are what you eat’… also, ‘you are what you think’.”

Focus your mindset on joy and gratitude as much as possible (if you need a jumpstart, check out The 4:8 Principle By: Tommy Newberry). Whenever you find yourself crawling into a hole of negativity, literally ask yourself: what can I be grateful for in this very moment? It is absolutely impossible–and scientifically proven–to have a negative and positive thought at the same time, so combat those negative, fearful, and anxious thoughts with those that are positive.

The more that you can equip yourself with the proper mindset and necessary tools, the better you’ll become at combating your imposter syndrome. I promise you, when you put in the work, you will start to see small victories that when added up will eventually win the war. Remember to show yourself grace, and start small. Focus on winning each day. Then next thing you know, one day after another turns into weeks, and then a few months, and before you know it, a few years, and eventually a lifestyle. Don’t allow imposter syndrome a foothold in your life; odds are, if you are feeling this, you are doing something right as you strive to succeed.

With Love,

– LW

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