5 Ways to Defeat the 3 P’s of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally, despite being high-performing in external, objective ways. It can result in people feeling like a “fraud” or “a phony” and doubting their abilities. 

There are three ways those suffering from imposter syndrome exhibit their condition, also known as the Three P’s:

  • Perfectionism;
  • Paralysis; or 
  • Procrastination

If you’re reading this thinking, “uh huh, sounds like me!” then you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’re new to school leadership, or simply new to a particular school district. As we gear up for the 2023-2024 school year, these feelings may be creeping up more and more. Doing these 5 things will have you saying “Not today, imposter syndrome” in no time!

  1. Give yourself a break. Feeling self-doubt is normal — across many areas of life — and is experienced by even the most successful people. Recognizing this can help alleviate some of the pressure and self-criticism.  
  1. Set realistic expectations. If your natural tendency is that of a perfectionist, setting unreasonably high expectations can contribute to imposter syndrome. Aim for progress rather than perfectionism, and embrace the idea that making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growth.   
  1. Keep a mindset of continuous learning. We’ve all heard the phrase “The only stupid question is the question that is never asked.” It’s only natural that if you’re new to a district or new to school leadership, you will have questions. Keep an open mind and keep asking questions — even the ones you think may be stupid.
  1. Recognize and acknowledge your accomplishments. Take the time to reflect on your achievements and acknowledge your skills, experiences and successes. Keep a record of positive feedback, compliments and testimonials from others for those days you’re feeling especially unsure of yourself. 
  1. Seek help if needed. If imposter syndrome significantly affects your mental health, self-esteem or overall well-being, consider seeking guidance. Finding a mentor or leadership coach can help provide a third-party perspective. After all, there are plenty who have walked in your shoes, and who have felt the same feelings you’re feeling now.

Allerton Hill Communications has been helping school leaders tell their unique school story and share their authentic leadership voice for decades. Whether you are in a valley or on a mountain top,  email us to learn more.

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