What To Do When You Feel Like A Fraud

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Do you feel like an impostor?

It’s okay. Really. Most high-achievers do, at least occasionally. (My research indicates that the percentage may be as high as 80%!) There’s even an official name for it: Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome. It’s that feeling that maybe you’re not quite as good at your job as others think you are. The feeling of being in a little over your head. And the feeling that, at some point (probably on the same day), everyone is going to figure it out. They’ll figure out, all at once, that the emperor has no clothes.

Loads of high-achievers—including Meryl Streep and Maya Angelou—have reported having this feeling. And I’m guessing that you’ve had it too, at least occasionally.

Which leads us to the big question: what do you do about it?

Do you ever feel like a fraud? Here’s what to do about it. #ProducingUnderPressure Click To Tweet

What do you do to get over Impostor Syndrome?

There are lots of well-meaning articles out there with any number of solutions, including:

  • Keeping a “success journal” to remind yourself that you’re capable.
  • Remind yourself that others (like Meryl Streep and Maya Angelou) have felt the same thing.
  • Focus on providing value to others.

These suggestions—and others like them—are well meaning. They’re helpful. They even work (well, many of them).

But there’s a simpler solution. There’s a simpler answer to the question, “What do I do when I’m feeling like an impostor.”

Do the work anyway.

Just do the work anyway.

When you feel like a fraud, do the work anyway. #Leadership Click To Tweet

Look, the fact of the matter is that the work has to be done, and it’s your job. It doesn’t really matter how you feel about it. (Well, it matters to you, but it doesn’t matter to the outcome.)

When I was a multiple Emmy winning Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle, there were times when I felt like an impostor. But so what? The show still had to get produced. I mean, what was the other choice? To fill the half-hour with a slide that just said, “Sorry, no show this week. The producer felt like a fraud”?

That just wasn’t an option. So, during those weeks when I felt like a fraud, an impostor, do you know what I did?

I did the work. I produced the show. I did my job.

And, in this respect, my world is no different than yours. You’re a leader, and you’re under pressure to produce results. In other words, you have a job to do. Even if you are a fraud (which I strongly doubt), you’ve been getting away with it this far. Just get away with it one more time. And then, after that, one more time. And then one more time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That’s what I did. That’s what Maya Angelou did. That’s what Meryl Streep did—and continues to do—with remarkable success.

And it’s what you should do too.

Even if you feel like an impostor while doing it.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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