Stop dismissing your achievements!
Your boss has just congratulated you for bringing in that project on time and told you that they really appreciate your ability to get things done. Great news huh? Except it isn’t because all your mind is saying is that they have no idea how much of struggle it was and they’re just being nice to you and that you totally flew by the seat of your pants and that the final delivery to the client was way less than perfect, and….and… and…
Sound familiar? I've worked with way too many women who share this same blindspot around achievements and it can seriously hamper your career progress if you let it because without recognising your achievements it will make it hard to genuinely advocate yourself for a more senior role. So I’m going to give you some practical tips on how to avoid this trap.
But let's begin by recognising why we do this. The simple explanation is that social pressure on women from very early years doesn’t want us to be big or bold and this narrative becomes embedded over time into stay in your lane, stay small and seek approval from others. It’s a primary driver of an imposter mindset and we need to get beyond this conditioning in order to accept that we aren’t just lucky or that we didn’t just get away with it.
There are a number of ways to move beyond this and while it’s not easy to switch this habit of thinking it is actually straightforward. Here are three things that you can start doing straight away that will make a difference.
- Pay attention to your thought process and keep track of how you explain the causes of your success. At each project review point get into the habit of giving yourself feedback on what you have done well. That means imperfectly too so watch out for perfectionism here. Use a percentage figure to quantify this if it helps – for example 80% is good enough
- High achievers often fail to accept their successes and this creates imposter feelings so watch out for the imposter. Give her a name and an identity to separate yourself mentally from this thinking. When she pops up with a “yes but” in relation to your achievements, acknowledge that she’s present – then choose to put the voice aside and claim your achievement by saying out loud “I am skilled in coding” or “I’m a motivating team leader” Write it down and keep it visible by your workspace.
- Seek evidence based feedback from people you trust about both your strengths and development needs. Ask them not to be nice but to be honest. People will do this for you. This increases the likelihood of acceptance of your strengths as it’s data driven and delivered by trusted observers. At the same time, see the areas of development as growth potential. Don’t beat yourself up but set goals and ask for help.
Finally don't forget to celebrate big milestones both within your team and sharing it at home. Bring in the doughnuts or go out for a meal. Let's face it, if you don't deserve it, who does!