3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome using your Strengths

overcome imposter syndrome

She says she is not qualified for the award she was nominated for. Another says he is sure he let his partner down by his performance. Another says she is the only one who didn’t get positive affirmation and is resigned to quit her position. Another is sure she can build her dreams one day and then discouraged by comparison the next.

And all of this, only within the last week.

It’s called impostor syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Since its introduction in the late 1970s, there is no shortage of commentary and reflection on this powerful phenomenon — the idea that despite external validation and success, a person feels inadequate or a lack confidence that he/she is up to the job.

Impostor syndrome is most commonly spoken of in terms of career and achievement, yet it can also span to our most native, sacred roles — as moms, dads, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, and beyond.

This week alone, working with clients, interacting with leaders, sharing hearts with friends, I have seen it first hand. Heck, one of those people is me.

It comes in and distracts with toxic voices that are filled with untruths. And, boy are those voices powerful. And damaging.

If you go around filling your mind and heart with untruths, then instead of continuing to become the successful, high-achieving person that you are, the lies begin to become more powerful than the truth…and slowly they drown you out.

You probably do not want to drown, right? I certainly don’t, but sometimes I do not quite know how to get back to a strong stroke when I find myself barely treading above the water.

Here are 3 ideas to battle impostor syndrome.

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3 Ways to Use your Strengths to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

If impostor syndrome is something you struggle with, here’s the deal: there is no quick fix and perhaps not even an ultimate cure. Yet, there are some truths about you that will give you a safe, grounded place to start — and give you a place to keep returning to again and again.

1 :: Know Your Strongest Talents

The impostor cannot breakthrough when you know your strongest paths to success.

Leaders have been shown, time and again over the past 50 years, that their most natural path to success — and therefore most fun and least stressful and least draining — is by way of finding and refining their talents into strengths.

Your talents create a bulwark for the impostor. It becomes impenetrable.

You can do this by way of self-discovery and questions of self-awareness to start. Ask yourself — what am I doing when I am in a state of flow? When things come easily? When time flies by? When I enjoy what I am doing and how I am doing it?

That’s a great place to start. Or you can ask others around you who know you well — what do you see that I do better or more effortlessly than most? When you think about what my strengths might be, what comes to mind.

Finally, and perhaps the path of least resistance, as well as most accurate — get an outside perspective through a proven assessment. CliftonStrengths {or StrengthsFinder as it has been called for 2 decades} and Myers Briggs Inventory are my traditional go-tos. Kolbe and Enneagram are two I am exploring and have found some real a-ha moments in recently.

Know your strengths to start building the defense against the impostor.

2 :: Scoop them up and Love your Strongest Talents

I would have gagged at a sentence like this when I was in my twenties — at anything that felt too soft and theoretical or too feelings-oriented, I rolled my eyes and pressed on.

Yet, here I am years later, a bit more confident in my own skin and a bit more willing to say, I am not perfect. I am not good at everything.

You are not great at everything — that is ok and that is not what imposter syndrome is about. The anecdote to impostor syndrome is not about becoming well rounded.

Gulp, promise me not!

{Watch one of the founding Episodes of Isogo TV to learn all about the reason well-roundedness is NOT the way}

Instead, it is about not only knowing your most natural talents and strengths, but it is about owning them, appreciating them, and even…loving them.

A high-performing team I worked with this year filled the room with talent. They were executors and influencers and thinkers, and they oozed both strength and positive attitudes.

Yet, one leader never came to terms with her strengths. After an entire day, she gave a beautiful, succinct summary of her talents. It was inspiring. Yet, as she walked out, she was convinced she did not have what it takes to get the job done.

When you talk to her leader however, you get a different story — one of success and influence and an approach that few others have.

As much as she KNOWS her strengths, she hasn’t allowed them to seep into her being and truly define who she is and how she leads. Only when she does will she take another step toward overcoming impostor syndrome.

3 :: Get the Honest Scoop from a Best Friend

Do you have a friend or a spouse or a sister who knows you well? Who has seen both your failure and your success? Who knows the true ugly yet still loves and appreciates you?

Find that person, because he/she is all wrapped up in your next step to overcoming impostor syndrome.

A client and friend of mine was recently nominated for an award. It is an award that she has not only earned but also very much deserves. Yet, every time the award comes up, she downplays the honor and finds reasons that she is not as worthy as others in the community.

It’s just not true. In fact, she is so deserving. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to see yourself.

I had the honor of being her person — her person to combat the untruths and help shed light on the truth. After I did some editing of her application, in an email, I wrote:

Much love to you my friend. You deserve this. Stop saying you don’t.

A good friend is not the one who is going to tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear. In this case, it’s all about taking captive the untruths and unbridling the truth.

Find your person, who speaks truth and knows you well, and you’ll find another step toward overcoming impostor syndrome.

All in all, the power of the impostor syndrome is mighty. It can hold deep influence in our lives and our ability to achieve our dreams or even to make the next right step.

It does not have to be that way. As you know your strengths, learn to accept and own them, and find others to speak truth into them, you will begin to build a defense that keeps those impostors out and frees you to be the true, successful, high-achieving leader {or parent or spouse or sibling or child} that you are!

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