Ever had that sense that you don’t know what you’re doing, but no one else seems to think so? This is Imposter Syndrome and even Chamber professionals suffer from it, as shown in the Chamber Pros group on Facebook when the question was asked, “Does it ever go away?”
Yes, it can go away or be dealt with and we’re going to share 5 ways to address it.
When suffering from Imposter syndrome (IS), you believe you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. You feel like a fake who will someday be found out. There are different levels of this condition.
Sometimes it’s situational, like an activity or role you are asked to do for a fixed duration of time.
Other times, people can feel that way about their chosen career or promotion.
In extreme situations, it undermines your abilities and makes it difficult to lead with confidence.
Even celebrities, who have enormous paychecks which would seem to quell insecurities on their abilities, can suffer from it. Taylor Swift admitted she had it when taking on the new role of director. Often, it’s calling attention to success that makes people feel more like a fraud, which does explain why some celebrities suffer from it.
While I haven’t seen any data on it, Imposter Syndrome seems to be a common concern of chamber professionals. Maybe that’s because as a chamber pro, you’re often called upon to take on new responsibilities, sometimes with no–or very little–experience in the area. It can be nerve-racking to step outside of your comfort zone.
Psychologist also says it’s more common in high-performing achievers and perfectionists, which may account for why so many chamber pros voice concerns about it.
So what can you do to combat Imposter Syndrome?
In this article, we’ll share some advice from veteran chamber pros and experts from other industries on quelling IS. But first, maybe where we need to start is to stop talking about it. Are we giving it too much power by making it a topic of conversation?
Should We Stop Talking About Imposter Syndrome?
In a 2021 article published in the Harvard Business Review, authors Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey urged readers to stop telling women they have imposter syndrome. They argued that creating a condition out of it was debilitating and stressed a right way and a wrong way to lead. Defining IS and using it as a crutch for insecurities impedes growth.
The authors wrote, “The answer to overcoming imposter syndrome is not to fix individuals, but to create an environment that fosters a number of different leadership styles and where diversity of racial, ethnic, and gender identities is viewed as just as professional as the current model.”
IS is more well documented among women, especially women of color, and by continuing the conversation, we may be giving it more power than it should have. Yet, there is something to be said for sharing (in a safe place, of course, where others can help us) what we believe to be self-limiting thoughts. Because of that, let’s explore what veteran chamber pros have to say on the subject.
You’re Not an Imposter. You’re a Chamber Pro.
When the Imposter Syndrome question was posed to the group, the chamber pro asked if it ever went away. The question was met with a resounding negative from the posters. When you lead a chamber, it’s possible you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling like you have a pebble in your shoe.
The role is not about the status quo, stagnation, or even comfort. You’re expected to innovate and with innovation comes doubt. How can you overcome that?
Here are a few ideas from chamber professionals:
Flip the Script
One way to feel more confident in what you’re doing is to change how you look at doubts. Don’t view those insecurities as a bad thing. Instead, do what Della Schmidt from the Greater Burlington Partnership does and see doubts and questions as a good thing.
She admits, “I have been in the industry for almost 30 years and I sometimes still wonder why do ‘they’ believe in me? Keeps me humble. Good to keep that ego in-check.”
Understand the Growth
Since some of these feelings of insecurity come from a specific activity (many pros admitted to feeling them more acutely around events), giving yourself some grace and understanding that it’s just part of the natural growth cycle can be a big help. Change and growth are uncomfortable.
When you feel like an imposter and are rattled with insecurities, simply tell yourself those doubts are “growing pains.” You are about to grow, and just like you may have experienced some physical growing pains when you grew as a child, as an adult, growing pains won’t be physical; they’ll be mental.
You’re Doing Things Others Can’t/Won’t
Being the first on the scene is hard. Even the first settlers in the country knew this. As they headed out west to seek fame and fortune, they tried to follow the ruts from previous wagon trains that had trampled down the grass and earth. People these days like to do the same.
Plowing the way through waist-high weeds and briars isn’t easy. But that’s often what you are doing as a chamber pro. Quiet your insecurities by telling yourself you are a pioneer and are doing things others can’t or won’t do.
I tell anyone who will listen that I am socially awkward. The idea of going to a bar by myself or even making small talk on the phone is something I try to avoid. I often stammer and forget words in these situations. But I love speaking in front of groups. I have no anxiety with public speaking because I convinced myself of something early on.
One of the things I told myself to squash my insecurities behind speaking in front of a large group is that public speaking terrifies most people. I told myself that people in the audience weren’t as judgmental as I thought they would be because most of them knew they couldn’t do what I was doing onstage. I convinced myself I was doing something that most people would not agree to do.
When you start looking at it that way–that you are doing something that scares the pants off of most people–you will feel like a superhero.
As a chamber pro most of what you do on a daily basis fits that description.
Embrace the Challenge
Let the insecurities go. Stop doubting the people who support you or have confidence in you. When you doubt your abilities, you’re essentially saying your advocates don’t have any clue either.
It’s bad enough you’re doubting yourself, but now you think your supporters aren’t worthy either? Are those people who hired or support you, smart professional people? Are they competent? Then it’s time you believe what they think even if you don’t believe in what you do.
Again, it goes back to flipping the script. Consider their faith in you the highest of compliments. As David Lee from the Greater Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce suggested, “Don’t think, ‘why me?’ Think, ‘why not me’?”
You Are the Expert
No big leap in any relationship or career was coupled with a certificate of readiness. Even when you think you are ready, there are things you couldn’t possibly anticipate that will unfold along the way. It keeps things interesting. If you expect this, you won’t be surprised. As Gioia Goodrum from the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce offered, “YOU know way more than ANYONE on your board, and in your community about the chamber. You are the expert. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Knock ‘em dead with your brilliance.”
If you want to see what others had to say on this topic, read the original post here.