Consultants! Here’s How to Get Over “The Imposter Syndrome”
Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve the job position you’re in?
Or maybe you feel like your salary is too high for your skills and you’re ripping off your employer?
And sometimes, you may even feel like you’re not qualified enough to give recommendations to CEOs who are twice your age!
Enter imposter syndrome!
According to Psychology Today, imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments. They have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraudster.
But what is imposter syndrome in a consulting context?
Basically, when a consultant faces the imposter syndrome, they feel like their problem solving and creative thinking is worthless. They feel that someday, a client or a senior may call them out.
This behavior may be very prevalent at the start of the consulting career when a consultant has not achieved much. If you’re in such a situation, you may feel like you’re getting overpaid and not solving any problems at all.
In this article, you’ll learn some valuable tips on overcoming the imposter syndrome and knowing your true worth.
But here’s a little disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. It should not be taken as medical advice. If you’re facing mental challenges, you should always visit a licensed professional and let them diagnose the issue.
How the Imposter Syndrome Begins in a Consultant’s Mind
Before we discuss the ways of overcoming the imposter syndrome, it’s essential to understand the root of the problem. The imposter syndrome is a complex subject and may be related to deeper psychological problems. But here are some possible reasons why new consultants face this phenomenon.
1. A high salary, all of a sudden
Imagine this: You’ve been living in a shared apartment throughout your student life to save money. You have worked part-time and casual jobs to make ends meet. Then you graduated, worked hard to pass through the interview process, and now you’re in a big consulting firm with a salary of $80,000. New money may be the biggest cause of the imposter syndrome. Sure, the management consulting career path does offer a lucrative salary, but initially, all this money may be too much for you to process and you may start feeling like you don’t deserve it.
2. Working with insanely smart people
The thing about consulting is, it attracts only the smartest of the smartest. Firstly, you will meet people who know more consulting frameworks than you, who have worked on more projects than you, and who are closer to clients and senior partners than you. Even though you may reach that level if you stay on the management consulting career path for long enough, the imposter syndrome can hold you back initially.
3. Past experiences
Your childhood incidents do shape you as an adult. According to American psychologist Dr. Nicole LePera, “not being heard” as a child is linked to psychological problems as an adult. Your job as a consultant is to offer recommendations. But if the people who were close to you never cared about your opinions, then how would you feel giving advice to a Fortune 500 CEO? You guessed it right —you’d feel like an imposter.
Perfectionists don’t feel satisfied until everything appears exactly the way they want it to be. They set lofty goals, and when they miss them, they feel like they don’t deserve their rank. This leads to more self-doubt and the feeling of being a ‘fraud’.
- The imposter syndrome refers to the psychological phenomenon in which individuals doubt their worth and falsely think they’re a fraudster
- New consultants may face the imposter syndrome when they start earning a high salary straight after school and have the feeling they don’t deserve that much money
- Past experiences and the need to be perfect may also be the reason behind this phenomenon, and feeling insecure because of being around highly successful consultants in the company may also make a consultant doubt their own worth
- You can get rid of the imposter syndrome using some easy remedies, like changing your thought patterns, positive self-affirmations, and letting go of limiting beliefs
- If the imposter syndrome is holding you back and the home remedies are not working, it’s okay to seek professional help and let them find out the deeper inner-lying reason behind the problem
How to Overcome the Imposter Syndrome as a Consultant
Now that you know some of the potential reasons why you may be facing imposter syndrome, let’s discuss some tips for overcoming it and having a successful consulting career where you feel confident about your abilities.
Tip #1: Be okay with a high salary
The first piece of advice for overcoming the imposter syndrome as a consultant is to truly accept the fact that your hefty paycheck is justified. As a consultant, you’re responsible for solving problems, and those solutions can help clients save hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars down the line. So, rest assured, you’re earning what you deserve.
Tip #2: Be patient
It’s understandable that as a young graduate in a big consulting firm, you’re hungry and ambitious and can’t wait to show your talent. But when things don’t go your way immediately, you may start feeling like you’re in the wrong place. No, you’re not! It takes time to build relations and understand the consulting job duties initially. So, be patient. It will all work out in the end.
Tip #3: Chant this self-affirmation statement - “I am a highly competent consultant who’s destined for great success in the consulting industry”
It’s necessary to keep reminding yourself how intelligent and charismatic you are. These affirmations help you during the rainy days when you start feeling like consulting is not for you and that you’re an imposter among real consultants.
So, these were some handy tips that you can use to overcome the dreaded imposter syndrome. As a consultant, you will learn how to solve problems and will provide a lot of long-lasting solutions to clients. This also means that you will be way better at solving your personal problems than someone who is not used to problem solving. The imposter syndrome is a problem, but you are a consultant. So be positive, solve this problem, and have a great career ahead.