By Josh McAfee
Do you get the feeling that there’s always someone way more capable than you? Smarter or more deserving? Someone that has stellar credentials and superior accomplishments?
The good news is you aren’t alone. That’s called Impostor Syndrome and many high performers have it.
The bad news is that these feelings are likely sucking the filling out of your Twinkies, the sparkle out of your contributions, and sabotaging your best efforts.
So how do you shake that off and really show you’re the Rockstar companies are clambering for and leaders value and invest in?
- Stay positive. I know it sounds hokey, but your attitude really has a critical impact on your success. A bad attitude prevents you from seeing or seizing opportunities. Work on recognizing when the negative self-talk keeps you from being the Rockstar.
- Get Pissed Off. Treating that negative inner voice like an enemy combatant that just happens to live in your head allows you to regard it separately. That is not you. When it tries to defeat you, PROVE IT WRONG! Have you ever had someone lie to you and it had a major impact on you or someone you love? You got angry right? Why treat this negativity any differently? Get a little pissed off at that negative voice and treat it as something separate from who you are and who you are going to become.
- Keep your ears open. Listen to what’s going on around you for opportunities to contribute and shine. You may notice that the smartest people in the room are rarely the ones that talk the most.
- Ask questions. You may be surprised to find there are others that want to know the same things you do and they’ll appreciate you taking the initiative. People who ask great questions that have business impact get the attention of great leaders.
- Take responsibility. There’s always something that must be done that no one really wants to do. Offer to take responsibility for something hard or time consuming, especially if it will stretch your abilities. Growth isn’t painless and you’ve got to work for that stardom. Make a plan, execute the plan, and check off an impressive goal.
- Ask for help… even if you don’t need it. I know this one is counterintuitive, but hear me out. It could be as simple as asking a coworker or boss their opinion on a solution or direction. (The trick is to never bring up a problem you don’t already have potential fixes for.) Consider inviting someone to collaborate with you and be sure they get credit where it’s due. Sharing the spotlight with a colleague builds relationships and can show you’re a team player elevating them and you in the process.
- Sing their praises. Let others know that they have a good idea, even if you think yours is better. It took guts for them to share it, good or bad. Be sure you acknowledge both the idea and the person behind, either privately or publicly. This will demonstrate you value others while building relationships.
- Ask for help… especially if you do need it. Yes, this is on here twice. This might be one the hardest lessons for anyone to learn, but you’ll be surprised how often it will save your butt. I worked with a team once that had ground to a halt. No one, not even leadership, had any idea how to fix this. Finally, a manager decided to ask the intern what they thought. Absolutely terrified and breaking out in sweat, that intern provided a fantastic idea and ultimately got to work with this highly visible and valuable project with the rest of the team.
- Be the positive influence. Rockstars shine, even when they aren’t the leader. The going can get tough on any team. When morale is down, take the opportunity to remind your talented team members that the show must go on and you’ll get through it together.
- Make the hard choices. At some point, you’ll probably encounter a situation where there’s no clear win and no one wants to make a decision. Call it what it is and address it directly. “We’re in a tough spot and we’ve got to make a move. Here are the options, pros and cons, in black and white.” If you get pushback, double down on the gravity of the situation and need for resolution. You may not ultimately be the one to make the final decision, but being the one that helped get the decision made is the stuff of Rockstars.
- Own your mistakes. You’re going to make them. Everyone does. Not everyone is capable of owning up and moving forward. Don’t let ego, pride, or fear get in the way of your success. If you aren’t sure how to fix the mistake, refer back to the list above. Learn from your errors and don’t be afraid to share the lesson learned. You will be appreciated for helping colleagues not step on the same land mine and for helping create an environment that values good communication and collaboration.
- Don’t dwell on the mistakes of others. Just as important as owning your mistakes is the ability to let someone else make a mistake. It’s going to happen. When it does, you can’t let it bog down the team or stall the project. Acknowledge that it happened and what was learned from it, then compliment your colleague on their attempt. Even failure can teach us good lessons.
- Work harder than everyone else. This one’s huge. I see people with grit outperform people with ability all the time. If you have ability and work ethic, put them both to work.
- Never give up, never surrender. Remember that successful people fail more than the unsuccessful. That’s because they’re willing to work harder, smarter, and take more calculated risks. You were made to accomplish remarkable things. Some of those things aren’t going to turn out the way you thought they would or wanted them to. Abandoning or complaining will undermine your credibility and break down your relationships. Prove your own strength, humility, and determination to yourself and those around you.
What opportunities do you have to shine at work? Are the negative voices getting the best of you or are you Rockstar material?
Let’s find you that perfect stage to perform on today.
Josh McAfee is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Humans Doing. With over 26 years of recruiting and team-building experience, Josh has worked with startups, SMBs, and large companies to determine hiring needs, develop our recruiting strategies and processes, and connect top talent to fuel growth. In 2021, he became a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author with his book Measure Up: Mastering Your Career Search Like a Boss.