“I have written 11 books, but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now.  I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out’.”  –Maya Angelou 

In my second marketing class ever, only two weeks into my first semester of RC year, it happened. I was cold-called. As soon as the professor locked eyes with me and called my name, the negative thoughts rushed in like a flood. I was an engineer before business school; I know absolutely nothing about marketing. Didn’t she know I was an admissions mistake? My mind immediately went blank. I looked down at the notes I typed the night before and started talking. I honestly don’t remember what I said. It was all a blur. After I finished, the professor said “That was an excellent summary. Thank you.” The professor moved on with class as I clasped my hands to stop them from trembling.  

Imposter syndrome — the idea that those around you have grossly overestimated your competency. I’ve struggled with this my entire professional career. The truth is: we all feel like this sometimes — even superstars like Maya Angelou! I hope that it helps you to know that (1) you’re not alone, and (2) there are skills you can develop to build your confidence. Here are two things that have worked for me.

Check Negative Self-Talk 

Shortly after being cold-called in marketing, it dawned on me that some of the things I said to myself, I’d never say to a friend. I decided to start talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend who I believe in. 

To begin challenging those negative thoughts, I first sought to become more aware of them. I found that the easiest way to do this was to stop and notice when I was feeling negative emotions – like frustration or worthlessness. I would immediately jot down the thought, and write a more positive, fairer statement next to it. The more I did it, the easier it got. 

In the end, changing our thoughts is the most powerful tool we have to changing our behaviors and finding true confidence! 

Keep an Accomplishment Journal 

At the end of each day, I quickly jot down 1-3 “wins” for the day. I’ll first ask myself: Did you do something difficult, and survive (like get cold-called)? Did you make a wise choice? Did you create value for someone or an organization? Did you learn from a mistake? Then, I’ll jot it down on a Post-It note and tape it to the wall next to my bed (or just keep it in a notes app on your phone).  

Keeping a list of successes to look back on whenever feelings of self-doubt creep up is so important – because it’s data. The next time you begin to doubt yourself, just go back and look at the facts! You can do this!

The next time you hear that snarky inner voice or feel a fresh wave of inadequacy, begin shifting your perspective with these tips. Expect that inner voice to become kinder and your confidence to skyrocket!