You’ve levelled up—maybe a promotion, a business milestone, and are setting out on an awesome but scary new adventure. You are surrounded by those who have ascended before you and are achieving the things that inspire you. All of a sudden, a voice inside you says…..
“You don’t belong at this table. These guys are Giants! They know more, do more, and achieve more than you can imagine. They are A380s, hunny, you … are a kite.”
You know that voice well. The Imposter—the part of you that feels you aren’t good enough. You panic… not sure whether to fight back or ignore it. How do you respond to that? How do you re-assure yourself? A part of you wants to go back to the kiddy table and play a smaller game. At least you felt comfortable there.
And that’s the problem.
If you don’t provide a solid response to the imposters “I don’t belong here”, then fear will overwhelm you, causing you to either shut down or cut and run.
So, here’s what you do when Imposter Syndrome shows up…
Wait, what? Agree?
Yes, agree. Agree with the voice that says you don’t belong here, you’re small, and don’t measure up. It’s true, or at least it better be. If you’re not smaller than the other people at the table, get your ass up and move to another table. The people you surround yourself with should be better than you, bigger than you, and more successful than you. If they are not, they have nothing to teach you. So, when you hear your inner voice whisper (or scream) “You don’t belong here”, quickly reply “Well I’m here now so let’s do this!” and be grateful for the opportunity to sit at the table.
2) Stop Trying to Measure Up.
If you are sitting with Giants—stop trying to prove you can compete. Just stop it! You need to focus on running your own race. If you are new, it won’t be long before they assume or find out that you might not be playing the game at their level. They don’t give a shit, because they are giants. Giants want to help those who come to their table wanting to grow. They don’t spend their lunch hours talking about “the new dummy”. They don’t go to bed at night upset that you asked what you considered to be a dumb question. Summary: Giants don’t do petty. That’s kiddy table stuff, and you are no longer sitting at the kiddy table. So, stop trying to compete and focus on learning.
3) You have Baggage. It WILL show up.
When sitting at the table, know that everything that is in your head is your stuff. What makes you afraid, excited, nervous, offended etc. – all your stuff. So, before you think of quitting because someone hurt your feelings or didn’t give you a gold star, get professional help. At the big table, you have to learn to manage your own emotional baggage. Get a therapist. No, really. Get a therapist. Trying to figure out your own internal chaos without help is like looking for a needle in a haystack… in the dark….with ski gloves on. You don’t have that kind of time and energy to waste. Swallow your pride and ask for help.
4) Listen. Apply. Repeat.
When in a room with giants, listen to EVERYTHING. There may be lots of topics you feel don’t apply because you “aren’t there yet” but listening now will give you a foundation to build on later. At the kiddy table, you can grab the information you need to get where you want to go. At the big table, you need to open your mind to concepts unfamiliar. Take notes, ask questions. Apply the things that are applicable to you and store the rest for reference later.
You can’t beat the Imposter. But you don’t need to. Lean in and know that sitting at a bigger table takes a willingness to be uncomfortable. When the discomfort starts to wear off, move to a bigger table and start again. Keep at it until one day… you are the Giant.
Bonnie J. Skinner, MEd, CCC, RP
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy