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8 Ways to Fake It Till You Make It

Power through these strategies until your self-doubt is gone.

If you’ve ever felt like you’ll get caught out at your job for being incompetent, you’re not alone. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Salzburg, 70 percent of participants reported feeling like frauds at work.

Researchers concluded that by undervaluing ourselves, we could be unwittingly sabotaging our own careers, as well as undermining our employers. So here are eight ways to fake it till you make it.

1. Remember your wins.

Peter Shankman, CEO of Shankminds Business Masterminds, boosts his spirits by replaying successful results from previous gigs. “Sometimes I’ll play a video of an older speech I gave and listen to the audience,” he says. “They’re laughing—really laughing. It puts me in the mindset to know that if I rocked that speech, there’s no reason I can’t do it again.”

2. Sweat it out.

When he starts feeling down on himself, Shankman wakes up early and boosts endorphins at the gym by lifting or doing cardio. “That right there gives me the chemical boost to say, ‘OK, let’s do this.’” He says this is the same reason why he sometimes exercises right before heading into a big meeting or presentation.

3. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.

For Joyce Maroney, director at the Workforce Institute at Kronos, that meant leaving a comfortable job at IBM several years ago to join a startup—something she had never done before. “The CEO who recruited me, for whom I’d worked in the past, told me she was confident I could do it. Having that reassurance from her was very helpful, and I’m very fortunate to have a CEO again today who believes in these same values.”

4. Talk it out.

When speaker Mike Veny was hired to deliver his first keynote at a state conference, he felt overwhelmed seeing his face on posters and in program handouts. He relies on close friends to serve as sounding boards when anxiety kicks in. “In my experience, self-doubt is normal and part of the process,” he says. “It keeps you humble and hungry to get better at what you do.”

5. See the big picture.

When second-guesses emerge, Veny focuses on why he does what he does—which is to bring awareness to mental health. “My mission in life is to empower people to connect,” he says. “I am grateful for opportunities that keep coming my way to do that.”

6. Validate other people.

When Derek Doepker, author of Why You’re Stuck, began his authorship journey, he felt like an impostor, asking himself things like, Who am I to write a book and why would anyone listen to me? His advice now, after having done it, is to identify a role model. He discovered authors, podcasters and bloggers who resonated with him. “Go tell them the difference they’ve made for you. In giving a sincere compliment and validating their worth, you may just find your own worth is validated in the process.”

7. Do what you love.

Oftentimes, when we get outside our comfort zone, we’re nervous about the new, the unfamiliar. That’s why Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., president of the Hendricks Institute, recommends focusing activities on your “Zone of Genius.” In his book The Big Leap, he explains, “The things you most love to do reflect your unique abilities. When you are doing what you are really meant to be doing, you don’t generate self-doubt.”

8. Never let ’em see you sweat.

Joyce Maroney learned to mask her anxiety because all eyes were on her to create a vision and build the right team. She consciously controlled her demeanor so people would perceive her as having the situation under control. As she learned more, her confidence started soaring, and so did her control. “When I exhibit confidence and composure, it always makes a situation better,” she says. “I take deep breaths, step away from a situation and take a few minutes to reset my composure. I remind myself that this too shall pass.”


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