New years resolutions are about change and self improvement. Whether you’re motivated to quit something (smoking, your job, gluten) or start something (running, a passion project, learning to code) the likelihood of falling through with it rests on your own self-confidence.
I have always been one of the most confident kids on the playground. I am rebellious by nature, which requires embracing your ego. My self confidence has led me to adventures around the world, life changing opportunities and glorious failures. You are more prepared to take risks when you believe you can always pick yourself up again. However, this year I experienced something new and frightful that quickly put my ego in check: imposter syndrome.
Impostor syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an impostor or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. As a startup CEO, I became insecure about not knowing how to code, fundraising for the first time and whether or not I was being taken seriously. Things were moving fast with Glassbreakers and these insecurities were distracting.
Under the guidance of my mentors, trained specialists and our team I was able to quickly find solutions. As someone who has recently re-invigorated her inner Kanye, I wanted to share my top 10 tips for overcoming imposter syndrome so you can start the new year as your most confident self.
Listen to this song and enjoy!
1.) Don’t take things personally
Sometimes people suck. Some people are rude, some people just don’t care and some people might hate you. Don’t take it personally. If you let people who don’t return your emails or phone calls upset you — you will waste your time. All you can do is be kind, polite and honest. If someone throws negative energy your way, brush it off and move forward. You gotta get, that, dirt off your shoulder.
2.) Pick a mantra
When I spoke to a therapist about my imposter syndrome she told me to get a mantra to chant in my moments of self doubt. Whenever a meeting went poorly, or I felt embarrassed I had a tendency to say out loud, “I hate myself why did I just do that!” So I chose a mantra to start using instead, a line from my favorite Kurt Vonnegut book that puts my world into perspective. I use that mantra when I’m getting ready for the day, before a big meeting or when things don’t go as I had hoped.
3.) Make a to do list first thing every morning
I begin every day with a new to do list. This includes personal and professional to do’s. It’s usually a big list and nothing is ever totally accomplished but it gives me daily goals to conquer. At the end of the day- when you see all the things you’ve checked off — you can start the next day a little bit more confident in your ability to get shit done.
4.) Care less about how you look
An important lesson I learned in the startup world is that no one cares about what you look like. If you are launching a company, you are not expected to look good, you are expected to look busy. This is a hard one for a lot of people who feel more confident when they think they look good. However, the right outfit, hairstyle or makeup isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking you are a confident person, how you carry yourself will. This year try to care less about how you look and care more about how you feel.
5.) Stop apologizing
Why are we always saying sorry? Sorry for interrupting, sorry for being opinionated, sorry for taking up space. I used to start sentences with the phrase ‘I’m sorry’ even though I wasn’t apologizing for anything. If you hear yourself saying “I’m sorry” out loud, stop and think about the context. Don’t apologize when it’s not necessary. You’ll find you will be a way more confident person once you only say “I’m sorry” if you really mean it.
6.) Get into Twitter
It’s 2015 — why are you not into Twitter yet? No really, what are you so afraid of? Twitter is a tool to put your thoughts and experiences out there for the rest of the world to favorite, reply to or retweet. It’s your words- amplified to a huge potential audience in 140 characters. My most confident friends are all on twitter. Being on twitter not only makes you more informed of the news and but allows you to make your voice heard.
7.) Go to events alone
Line up networking events and go by yourself. How can you possibly meet new people if you are tied to the person you brought with you? Learning to approach industry peers, by yourself, allows you to test and create your best introduction. The more comfortable you become shaking hands with strangers, pitching yourself or your passions, the more comfortable you start to become with yourself.
8.) Find a mentee
The best way to build your confidence in a skill set or area of expertise is to teach it to someone else. Being a mentor to someone means you are helping a person who admires you. If they believe in you enough to want to learn from you, then you owe it to them to believe in yourself. Ladies can connect with peer mentors on Glassbreakers.
9.) ASK for it
One of the biggest hurdles to get the ball going with fundraising was literally my fear of just making the ask. It was a simple question, “Are you interested in this opportunity to invest?” and yet my confidence issues held me back from saying it. Our first investor saw right through me. I pitched her Glassbreakers but didn’t make the ask. She looked at me and said, “Eileen, ask me if I would like to invest in your company”. I made the ask and she said YES! Asking for what you want is hard when you lack the confidence to do so but once you do, it becomes way less scary.
10.) Listen to more rap music
I fell in love with rap music in middle school. I studied creative writing poetry for my bachelors degree. To me, hip hop is poetry. Rap music motivates me, empowers me and educates me. I really feel the emotions driving the lyrics. Listening to any Wu-Tang song stretches my imagination. Rap music celebrates finding the inner strength to put yourself out there. It takes guts to spit a verse and thus rap artists are in their right to be proud of their confidence.