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Break Through Imposter Syndrome by Asking These Questions

When you perform well at work, you will often get promoted. But, once you find yourself in your new role as a leader, you will inevitably wonder how you are doing. Imposter Syndrome—the feeling that you don't belong, that you're screwing everything up, that everyone's going to find you out—tends to increase with leadership roles. Today's post will give you a tool to help you overcome this feeling of being an imposter: the practice of deliberate questions.

Having a practice of being conscious about your questions will change everything in your leadership. The questions you ask yourself will lead you to the desired results because your questions direct your mind where to look. For example, if your question is, "How am I in danger?" your brain will present you with reasons that you are in danger—from the car coming down the street to the air you're breathing and to the food you're eating. Alternatively, if you ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?" you will find reasons that you are grateful.

If you are suffering from imposter syndrome and feel anxious that you don't measure up, you need to look at your questions. When you think this way, you might be asking questions like, "When will they find me out?" "What am I doing here?" or "How can I deal with all this work?"

These all seem like reasonable questions. However, notice the state you are in when you ask those kinds of questions. For example, the question, "How can I deal with all this work?" is often met with an, "I can't deal with all this work!" Because of this, you feel overwhelmed, which will lead you not to schedule, plan, push back, or delegate. Then, you end up overworking or micromanaging, and all of the other things you do when you feel overwhelmed.

Rather than asking the questions that lead down a rabbit hole, find out a way to support yourself. Try asking, "What's the most important thing on my plate?" or "How can I have the biggest impact right now?" Those questions come from a much different place.

"How can I deal with all this work?" is coming from a supposition that you need to do all that work because if you don't do it all, something terrible is going to happen, which leads you to feel anxious and overwhelmed.  But, on the other hand, the question, "What's the most important thing here?" brings you into the driver's seat and makes you realize that there are only so many hours in the day. You will not be able to do everything, so you'll figure out how to handle the most important things.

When you ask yourself this question, you're practicing outstanding leadership on yourself. That practice makes it so that when you're in charge of a team you can ask, "What's the most important thing here?" and spark people's genius. 

"What will make all the difference?" is a question that attaches people to purpose and opens up space. Remember to do that for yourself to help you feel that sense of control and power.

Making Better Decisions

Another essential ability as a leader is to make significant decisions even when you don't have all the information. Where most people fail in decision making is by looking for how they are right. When you do that you come to a conclusion that proves all your reasons for being right. So when you're making a big decision, take the time to gather as much information as possible, not just from the sources that will support you.

The question that will help you do this is along the lines of, "Where can we be wrong?" or "How can I disprove this theory?" That's how you actively gather information as quickly and as strongly as possible. That is how you move forward.

An example from my own life was the other night when I was sitting at my kitchen counter, and I was looking at it. My first thought was, "How did this become so messy so fast?" So, when I asked myself that question, I just got frustrated. At this point, I became dejected, and I just wanted to do something else. Finally, however, I caught myself in that moment where I needed to shift my mindset to, "I want to deal with this."

When I switched it to, "How quickly can I turn this into something that I love?" I then took a big bundle of flowers, and I put them in vases. I also took a big pile of papers, I put them where they go, and I took odds and ends, and I put them in the dishwasher and where they go and wiped down the countertop. As I did all those things, my mindset shifted to "Hey, this is cool; I'm taking action!" 

If you found this helpful, you'll love my free course, Breaking Free From Imposter Syndrome. Click the button to get started:

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