Face It: The Mirror Of Success Doesn’t Lie – NMP Skip to main content

Face It: The Mirror Of Success Doesn’t Lie

Too many people feel like they’ve lucked into success, rather than earned it. That can hold you down from reaching your top potential.

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
A businesswoman views her reflection in a glass window with a satisfied look.
Redirect your focus and think about how you’ve been able to succeed.

“But who really develops the overall marketing strategy for the company. Is it you or is the CEO behind it all?” As I let that question linger in the air during a recent call with an industry colleague, it took me far longer than it should have to claim ownership of one of my main job functions as Director of Marketing for RCN Capital. After almost eight years in the industry and spending all of that time building RCN’s marketing department up from a team of one (just me) to a now team of ten employees, why did I have such a hard time saying, yes, I was in fact a part of that success and growth? Turns out, I was suffering from something known as imposter syndrome.

Feeling Like An Imposter

So, what exactly is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is the idea that someone feels like they don’t actually deserve the accomplishments and recognition they have received, mainly in their professional life. They feel like they have only made it this far by sheer, dumb luck, and not because of their talent or qualifications. I had no idea this feeling had a name until speaking with another colleague recently about an upcoming Women’s Conference, but once I hung up the phone, I wanted to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

After some thorough digging, I realized experiencing this feeling is more common than I initially expected. According to a review article in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, “an estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives.”

Also, while these feelings affect both men and women, typically women seem more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome than their male counterparts. This is especially true for women in male dominated industries and industries where women are underrepresented in senior management positions. Being a female in a director role in the mortgage industry, I checked every box. So, while I may be in good company, it still isn’t pleasant feeling like a fraud in your everyday life.

What’s The Real Harm?

You may be thinking, how can imposter syndrome really have any lasting negative effects? Just push those thoughts of doubt out of your mind. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple and it can seriously impact people that experience it. Since imposter syndrome instills such a heavy sense of self-doubt, its not just a case of someone shunning praise or glossing over major achievements, it can lead to much larger, long-term issues. Sufferers will tend to not seek out opportunities for promotions or push themselves to negotiate for better pay. Also, since they tend to feel so insecure in their own competencies, they may not present new ideas or show stronger leadership skills for fear of being “exposed.”

Ultimately, it becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You cannot succeed because you believe you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do so. The worst part about this is, the people that typically fall victim to this type of thinking are often the hardest workers and usually have some of the best ideas to improve efficiencies or implement better processes, but they will never speak up out of unwarranted fear. This means that they will not only personally suffer, but also they will never contribute their full potential to their company without a change in thinking.

Overcoming The Feeling Of Not Being Enough

On a positive note, the initial step of overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing that it exists in the first place. Personally, just knowing that this is a common feeling and that so many others feel a similar way has already helped significantly.

Being able to identify that you are experiencing imposter syndrome will allow you to better separate how you’re feeling from the truth. Just because you feel this way, that does not make it your reality.

Realizing this makes it much easier to document your accomplishments, attribute them to the skills you possess, and separate the facts from your feelings. This approach will also allow you to re-write your own personal narrative. Instead of focusing so heavily on how you might fail or fall down, redirect your focus and think about how you’ve been able to succeed. And for instances when you do come up short, don’t dwell on the negatives, but use that as a learning experience. Figure out how you can adapt and do better in the future even if that means asking others for help.

Getting out from under the weight of imposter syndrome is a gradual, but completely doable process. It all starts with that first step. At least I know the next time I am questioned about my success, I will without hesitation own my accomplishments and answer with confidence.

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine April 2021 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is director of marketing for RCN Capital.

Published on
Apr 14, 2021
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