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  • Writer's pictureDoug Fleener

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome (Especially when you hear the theme from Jaws)

Imposter Syndrome is an experience that many of us in recovery and a leadership position experience. This psychological phenomenon often results in people doubting their abilities and fearing they will be exposed as a "fraud."

I remember when I was promoted and got my first office. I kept thinking that someone would knock on my door and say there had been a mistake.

Here I was, an addict, alcoholic, college dropout, and obviously a fraud! Now granted, I had been doing great work and earned the position I received. But someone needed to tell my imposter self.

The worse thing I did was not talk about how I was feeling. I just kept thinking it would go away. The fear would disappear for a while, but then out of nowhere, that Imposter Syndrom would pop up on my shoulder, humming the theme to Jaws.

Finally, I decided to talk with a friend of mine about it. He said he had felt the same way. He had me tell him all of the reasons I was qualified for the position. There was plenty, including being a strong leader and having extensive experience in the industry.

Then he asked me to share why I should not be in the position. Of course, I went straight to my past. My drinking. My drug use. My lying and stealing. Things I haven't done in years.

My logical self was sold. My self-doubting self needed to do some work. I did do three things that eventually made the Imposter Syndrome disappear.

1. Wrote out the list of why I was worthy of the position and read it every morning for 30 days. I also pulled that list out whenever that doubt would creep in.

2. I asked my higher power for help every morning and thanked him every evening.

3. Whenever that feeling came on, I would reach out to someone to ask how they were doing. Whenever I got out of myself and my head, I would inevitably feel better about myself and work.

Here is the fast recap: Whenever Imposter Syndrome creeps in, stay in the moment, get out of yourself, and be grateful.

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