shutterstock_3272515When I speak at events for women executives, there is one type of question that I get asked more often than any other:

“What do I do if I feel like a fraud on the job?”

“Like I’m not qualified or I don’t know enough?”

“Like someone will eventually find out that I don’t know what I’m doing?”

In the coaching community, we call this state of mind “the imposter complex,” and it’s rampant. Virtually every woman executive I work with experiences it. Even I had it for a while back in the day.

My own version arrived on the day after I passed the bar exam, when my then-boss threw me into the fire by asking me to do my first federal court argument on the spot.

I had no idea what I was doing.

But you know what? I did it anyway.

Here’s a secret: at some point in the career of everyone I know and everyone I’ve ever worked with– from titans of tech to the most junior executives– every single one of us feels like we have no idea what we’re doing.

That, my friends, is a part of your learning curve.

And the reality of your working life is that someone thinks you’re qualified for the job you have, or you wouldn’t have it. Sure, there may be gaps in your knowledge, there may be responsibilities you have yet to master and goals you have yet to achieve, but you ARE qualified for your job simply by the fact that you were offered it.

So what are the keys to getting over your imposter complex?

Take a page from my book, and even if you think you don’t know what you’re doing, do it anyway.

Be humble, but not self-effacing.

Be kind to yourself as you learn and grow.

Recognize that perfection is not a job requirement. (tweet this!)

Seek out mentors and friends who remind you of all that you are and all that you do.

And most importantly, own what you have achieved and continue to achieve on a daily basis.

(One way to do this– and something that I do myself– is to create a daily practice of writing down every night before bed three things that went really well that day. That way, no day ends without you acknowledging what’s working!)

Eventually, you’ll find out what everyone else already knows: that you belong exactly where you are.

You are qualified for your job.

You probably even rock it on a daily basis.

And you are not a fraud.

You’re on the right path. Keep going.

And have a great week.

 

All the best,

Elizabeth

 

PS. I’ve got two remaining openings left for private coaching beginning this month. Reach out here if you’re interested in exploring what private coaching can do for you.

 

 

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