A Lawyers Guide to Confidence
Imposter Syndrome, that worrying feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy, can affect anyone from all walks of life. Lawyers are no exception. In the high-pressure world of law, it’s common to question your abilities, even when you are highly skilled and accomplished. There will always be a part of you that will wonder if you are good enough.
Recognizing and addressing imposter syndrome is essential to enable you to thrive in your career and have practical steps to conquer it.
Understanding Imposter Syndrome:
Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as frauds. For lawyers, imposter syndrome can manifest in several ways:
- Perfectionism: Lawyers often strive for perfection, leading to constant self-criticism and the belief that they are not good enough.
- Comparing Yourself to Others: Lawyers frequently compare themselves to their peers or successful lawyers, leading to feelings of inadequacy.
- Attributing Success to External Factors: Usually, a lawyer with imposter syndrome may attribute their success to other factors – luck, good circumstances, etc. – rather than acknowledging their skills and hard work.
- Fear of Failure: Lawyers can become paralyzed by fear of making mistakes or losing a case.
- Fear of Success: Yes, there is a fear of success. It is the fear of being unable to sustain your achievement and, again, being found out that you were a fraud and shouldn’t have achieved it at all.
The Impact on Your Legal Career
Imposter syndrome can lead to decreased self-confidence, burnout, and missed opportunities. If you are left to wallow in your feelings and fears, it can lead to more detrimental impacts. But the good news is that there are ways to overcome imposter syndrome and excel in your career.
Instead of being overly critical of yourself, practice compassion for yourself. Making mistakes is a given. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t make mistakes. And you are not the only one feeling the way you do. Call up your closest colleague and discuss this. I will be shocked if they don’t have imposter syndrome, too.
- Challenge Your Thinking:
If you can begin recognizing when you are overly critical of yourself, you can stop thinking and think positively. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, skills, and the positive feedback you have received.
- Set Goals
Some people say to set realistic goals because if you set unattainable goals, you may only enforce your imposter syndrome and negative self-esteem when you don’t reach them. I say, set BHAGs – big hairy audacious goals – but here is a big difference – make sure you chunk your goals into smaller and smaller achievable steps. Almost all goals set are possible, given enough time and work.
- Seek a Mentor
Connect with colleagues whom you think can provide guidance and support. Sharing your feelings with a trusted advisor can help you gain perspective and receive constructive feedback.
- Keep a Success Journal
Pick up a $1.25 notebook in the dollar store and write down every success, no matter how insignificant they may seem. When struggling, open the book and read all you have done. This tangible reminder may boost your confidence.
- Growth Mindset
In 2007, Carol Dweck wrote Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It has become the go-to book for learning about fixed and growth mindsets. And without going too deep, it just means you have an open mind to learn new things and discard those you find no longer suit your thinking. Continuously learn; don’t think you know everything because no one does.
I have suffered from Imposter Syndrome just as much as anyone else (and still have my moments). But I am learning how to overcome this. The other day, I was in a bit of a funk, so I stopped working for a while and decided to declutter my offer (procrastination technique, which we will discuss in another blog). As I mentioned in the last Rainmaking Recommendation, I found some old referral letters from past clients and bosses while cleaning. Each one was a glowing message about my attorney, marketer, and rainmaker training skills. It was then I realized that I AM good at what I do. I just have to keep learning more about my business, marketing, and Rainmaking, and how to service my clients so they can be good at what they do.