Impostor syndrome does not have to be a life sentence

In the early part of my career, I projected my imagination out into the future to picture where I would be in another twenty years. I looked around at where people with similar backgrounds had ended up. They seemed unfulfilled by their work and surviving at best.

Perhaps I could get a few more steps up the career ladder, but my internal dialogue told me, “You are not smart enough to be a leader.”

However, when I talked with people in senior leadership roles, I gathered that they were not born leaders either and often as not, they had their own internal dialogue about not being the real deal. 

I was influenced by a mentor who believed in me more than I believed in myself at that time. I started to expand my sphere of influence, which included the size of the team I led and the scope of work. I had to give up my internal conversation about not being smart enough, if I was going to succeed. Once I decided to end that story, I had the space to take on a new internal dialogue about making a big difference. 

As I shed my cloak of comfortable mediocrity, I discovered that it exposed me to greater risk of failure. But it brought with it the higher reward of seeing big things happen. I took on new roles that stretched and challenged me. I became more visible. I became more confident in my value and my internal conversation shifted from doubt to possibility.  

My own journey mirrors many other people’s experience. Expanding your sphere of influence is as much about expanding the story we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are capable of achieving, as it is about the steps to get there. 

Harold Hillman, in his book, The Impostor Syndrome: Becoming an Authentic Leader, makes the point that, “It is virtually impossible to get from Point A to Point B without some degree of stretch … It is important that you associate vulnerability with growth. What is even more important is that you prompt your own stretch on occasion, just to grow more resilient in the face of uncertainty and personal risk.”

🙋 How have you stretched and grown?

Best regards, Brian