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Dealing with Imposter Syndrome – My Personal Story (4As)



While working with leaders across different geographies and industries, one of the concerns many leaders raise to me relates to a feeling they have of not being adequate or qualified for the role or responsibility assigned to them. Some describe it as being ‘nervous’ others say ‘intimidated’ or just not being ‘confident enough’. Maybe a more recent description of this feeling is ‘Imposter Syndrome’.


Imposter syndrome can simply be defined as ‘not feeling qualified or good enough for whatever role or responsibility that has come your way”


I have personally had to deal with ‘imposter syndrome’ at different stages in my career. Like when, as a pharmacy graduate, I started working in a management consulting firm and felt inadequate to talk to people about how to improve their organizations. Or when I travelled out of my country of origin, and I was concerned whether people would understand my accent or not.


As I reflected on these experiences, I identified 4 things that helped me deal with these moments, which I believe will help you too. More recently, I started calling them the 4A’s so it’s easy to relate with and remember.


  1. Achievements

  2. Appearance

  3. Association

  4. Alignment



Achievements


One of the ways I dealt with Imposter Syndrome was to intentionally call to mind by past achievements. These achievements could either be in academics, career or life in general. I would look through my resume, read feedback from past performance managers and recognition emails from colleagues and friends. Reading these and reliving the moments in which they happened helped me to better appreciate how far I had come and positioned me to overcome those feelings of inadequacy.


Reminding yourself of your past achievements is a great way to find the motivation you need to overcome the challenges you’re facing today.



Appearance


One of the things that I told myself at those ‘imposter syndrome’ moments was – “even if I don’t feel like I was qualified, I would dress like I belonged and speak like I belonged”. I committed to top notch dressing and excellent speaking/communication skills. These greatly helped build a positive perception with those I spoke with and helped me gain confidence to overcome those moments. Enhance your dressing and communication skills so they can help you overcome any sense of inadequacy you may be feeling.



Association


There were times when my achievements and appearance were still not able to help me overcome the feeling of not-good-enough. At such times, I borrowed someone else’s confidence in me. For example, when I had doubts in my abilities as I started a new role, I borrowed the confidence of the recruiters and hiring managers who believed I was good enough and hired me into the role. When you don’t feel qualified for a role or responsibility in front of you, look around to see others who believe in your abilities and borrow their confidence in you.



Alignment


Even though these first three As have helped me deal with ‘Imposter Syndrome’, this fourth A – Alignment is the most critical for me when it comes to overcoming moments of not feeling qualified. I am a person of faith, a Christian, and I believe that I am aligned to God’s divine plan for me. With this confidence, I approach things with a mindset that although I may not have seen a challenge coming, it does not mean, I was not prepared to handle it. Remembering that you are aligned to a higher purpose and plan can help you build confidence for whatever you are facing today so you can overcome it.



Action Step


Find out which of these 4As resonate with you and use them to silence any voice in your head making you feel that you’re not qualified for the role or responsibility.