A mentor once commented to me that she had mostly “gotten over herself.” We were talking about playing a larger role in the world, having a bigger platform, stepping into more impactful places. Her point was, you have to get out of your own way.
I knew exactly what she meant. How many of us are already doing more than we expected to do earlier in our lives, but we don’t quite believe it? When the next big opportunity unfolds in front of us, how many of us have imposter syndrome? “I’m not sure if I can do this. Am I really good enough to do this?” We vacillate between high and low confidence, often in spite of evidence that we are capable. It’s a matter of, “What, little me? I could never do that.”
Have you ever been in the midst of important work, while still questioning whether you belong at the table? Is the next mountain that’s in front of you one that you are shying away from because it feels uncomfortable, or it’s something you haven’t done before, and you’re not sure you are good at?
For folks with imposter syndrome, self-perception lingers at a point lower than one’s potential. As an executive coach a big part of my job is to see unlimited possibilities for others, and believe in those possibilities, to help them unlimit their thinking.
Here are a few ways to “get over yourself”:
Slow down and be honest about how you feel. I’ve noticed that some clients, when facing a new challenge…the conversation starts to feel like walking through oatmeal. I can tell they don’t want to look at it. “That’s not who I am.” “I’m not comfortable with that.” Or “That’s not my strength.”
The self-awareness about your feelings has to be the starting point, otherwise they will lurk in the shadows of your consciousness, driving your choices without you understanding why. To change, you need to first understand where you are. Self acceptance is a step on the path to self transformation.
Ask how your current picture of yourself is both serving and limiting you. Because it’s usually doing both.
Ponder, “What if?” That is, try on some alternative views of yourself. “What if I could grow into this role?” “What if I really am that good?” “What if I had a lot more courage, would I see this differently?” “What if this isn’t about me and my comfort, but about what the world needs from me?”
Hold it all lightly. Instead of trying to beat yourself into changing your mindset, just think about it. Give yourself some space and time.
I recently had a major work-related decision to make, and I remember saying to my coach, “I’m not going to make a decision about this. I’m going to think about it. I’m going to think about why I’m feeling the way I am, why I’m scared, how this all ties into my identity.” After a few weeks, the decision became obvious to me. It didn’t feel like jumping off a cliff. I had gotten myself there naturally and holistically.
Work on unlimiting your thinking about what’s possible. One of my favorite authors, Roy Eugene Davis, talks about the power of creative imagination. If you truly want something to come about, envision it, and believe that it’s already true. There is enormous power in what we truly believe about ourselves.
Finally, it’s not about you. The truth about “getting over yourself” is that playing small is just as much a trap of your ego as is arrogance. People who have enormous, inflated egos get in their own way because their self-perception is distorted. But failing to see and believe your full potential is just another sort of distortion.
Getting over yourself is about aligning with something larger than yourself—a greater purpose, a mission, God’s will, your dharma—however you think about that. Once you hitch your star to something greater, then playing small just gets in the way.