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When being ‘too humble’ works against you

By Nancy Nzalambi | May 17th 2020

I believe most of us are dedicated to making something out of our careers that isn’t just the money. We share different principles that guide our actions.

Some people get things done by being plain and brunt go-getters; having the audacity to remain headstrong even when competitors threaten to kick them out of business.

Others choose humility, which is backed by research as an effective way of getting things done and leading a team.

Whether you are the overconfident fellow or the humble leader, we all face those moments when the job feels too complicated to master. That feeling of self-doubt that doesn’t amount to anything close to actual inability to do the best; the imposter syndrome.

Nihar Chhaya, a contributor for Forbes magazine says that around 70 per cent of all human beings will experience impostor syndrome at some time in their life.

Psychology Today describes that impostor syndrome as “a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

It shows mostly as crediting success to good luck or good timing. It’s not strange that sometimes we offer to make ourselves feel worse by not acknowledging our strengths and instead make other people feel better because we do not want to directly let them know of their inadequacy.

This does not in any way advocate for blowing your own trumpet every day. It just means we have to strategically use our strengths to appropriately aspire productive values.

How do you get over the impostor syndrome?

Journal your accomplishments

Any successful project happens after a series of both good and, maybe, not-so-good decisions. The latter offer lessons for better performance. When you track anything you well accomplished you get to see that factors made it happen.

From such notes, you will start to see yourself as an achiever. You can also put down things you hope to achieve by the end of the day, week, month or year. All this will keep you focused and less wary of self-doubt.

Confront insecurities

You could be that office perfectionist who believes your work is not good enough. It would be such a shame if you fail to bring up a brilliant idea just because it is still not perfect in your head. No one is perfect after all.

It is time to cut yourself some slack. Reframe your self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy into more positive thoughts. Do not put too much pressure on yourself.

Be your own cheerleader

If you have a seat at the table, you deserved it. Own it. Be confident that your achievements are meaningful and have a positive impact at the workplace. By doing so, you will see what others see in you; that high achiever who deserves that powerful position because you earned it.

Get over unreasonable standards

Give yourself a reality check. Accept your failures, learn and move on. We sometimes fail because we set unreasonable expectations. Those unattainable standards keep us from achieving those small goals that contribute to the entire vision.

We also have our own limitations, things we cannot change about ourselves. These limitations should not take the blame when unavoidable mistakes happen.

Instead, we should accept that failures are part of the journey. We are to draw strengths from them and deal with them.

Be involved in activities outside the workplace

Professional groups, non-profits and kids mentorship programmes are some of the ways you can change your story and build your confidence. Be in the organising team and come up with projects to help others shape their leadership skills.

During this time when schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, take some time to mentor students through the different communication platforms available.

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