I’ve talked before about the statistics around imposter syndrome, which celebrities have openly shared that they’ve experienced it, along with, the 5 types of imposters that many of you will relate to.

Dr Valerie Young from the Imposter Syndrome Institute, confirmed the following alarming statistics that:

  • 70% of successful people reported Imposter Syndrome at some point int their life.
  • 75% of executive women have experienced Imposter Syndrome.
  • 80% of CEO’s feel out of their depth.
  • 84% of entrepreneurs / small business owners experience Imposter Syndrome.

Put like that, when you look around a room the majority of folk there will have at some point in their life felt out of place, a fish out of water, fearful of getting found out, or simply a fraud.

The Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou once said: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”  If Maya can feel a fraud – then no wonder the majority of us have those moments of critical doubt as well.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my 21-year journey as coach over the past year, and realised that two decades ago no-one really mentioned imposter syndrome, not being an authentic leader, or feeling the effects of anxiety at work.  It’s not to say people didn’t experience it, they either didn’t talk about it, or used other phrases to explain how they were not coping.

This reminded me of the power of words, and in particular the coaching skill of reframing – taking a word or statement and shifting it from a negative to a positive perspective.

As a Confidence and Mental Fitness Coach I invariably attract clients who ‘don’t feel their true selves’ and refer to feeling an imposter.  I will introduce them to the notion of reframing that label and using tools that helps them shift from feeling powerless to empowered.

Moving from comfort to stretch
When we are ‘comfortable’ in our role and with our responsibilities we feel confident, assured that whatever we are doing is most likely to be right, and any mistakes are easily fixed.  However, when we step out of comfort zone into trying something new, meeting new people, putting ourselves in a situation that is alien to us, we move int our ‘stretch’ zone.  It’s here that we learn, develop and grow and where our performance is optimal.

The emotions we feel in this stretch zone is very similar to imposter syndrome – so we can choose to acknowledge the feelings and negative chatter as coming from our imposter or our stretch.

Use the 3 Ns’

When I work with clients, I often go much deeper, exploring who and what the critical voice around their stretch situation is saying to them, how it’s impacting them, and how ultimately it makes them feel.  By using the 3 Ns technique they can take even more control of their critical mind by ‘noticing, naming and finding a new perspective’ on their stressful situation.

Whilst recognising that most people can at some point in their life feel like an imposter, choosing to reframe the emotions to being as  a result of ‘stretch’ and applying the ‘3 Ns technique’ can have a far more powerful and lasting impact than attaching and accepting the label of imposter.

If you’d like to work with Kate as a coaching client, or one of the other Kapow Coaching Associates, then get in touch and book your free sample coaching session.