How To Avoid Imposter Syndrome

I have coached a lot of incredibly talented professionals and almost every one of them have moments (or days, weeks, months, or even years) of self doubt, or that feeling of imposter syndrome.

As business analysts, we’re great at picking things apart, especially when it’s our own abilities, skill sets, and contributions.

I believe you can move past imposter syndrome, which is why I’m sharing three practical ways you can overcome imposter syndrome and move forward with confidence.

In this video, you’ll discover:

  • Why I believe business analysts struggle with imposter syndrome.
  • Three practical tips to overcome imposter syndrome.
  • Free resources we offer to help you move forward.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional, these tips will help you tackle imposter syndrome head-on and thrive as a business analyst, watch the video now by clicking below.

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My Own Journey With Imposter Syndrome

I still remember starting my second business analyst role. I had moved all the way across the country and was working in a new company, working on a new system, and with new stakeholders in an entirely new domain. After a few weeks, it felt like I’d spent more time learning than analyzing. I still didn’t have a grasp on the scope of the project or what we were going to do. I started to doubt myself, and I wondered if I was really cut out for this job. I started to wonder if they were going to think that they had made a mistake in hiring me and transporting me all across the country to start this role. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was feeling was imposter syndrome, that nagging feeling that you don’t belong or that you aren’t qualified to do a job that you are entirely qualified to do.

It’s totally natural to feel this way. The important thing is that you don’t let this feeling hold you back. In this video I am going to share three incredibly valuable tips to help you overcome imposter syndrome and gain the confidence you need to take on challenging projects and advance your career. Whether you’re just starting out or you are a seasoned professional, these tips will help you tackle imposter syndrome head on and thrive as a business analyst.

Hi, I’m Laura Brandenburg with Bridging the Gap where we help you start, succeed, and excel in your business analyst career. So, let’s get into those top three tips that I have for you.

Imposter Syndrome is Not Necessarily Something You Need to “Fix”

I’ve coached a lot of incredibly talented professionals and almost every one of them has a moment, or has days, weeks, or months, or even years of self-doubt. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you, and this is not necessarily something you need to “fix.” It’s normal and natural to feel nervous, especially when we’re tackling a new type of project or working with a new type of stakeholder or are in a new domain.

It also might mean just that we care. Those butterflies that are in my stomach before just about every presentation I’ve ever given, or even, truthfully, recording videos like this, a wise mentor once told me that when they stopped, that meant that I had stopped caring. Only overconfident speakers who weren’t worried about how their message would land didn’t get butterflies anymore, or so this person said. Despite my best efforts to get more and more confident in public speaking, I’ve never quite overcome that nervous feeling when getting up before a group. I’ve also never stopped caring.

I’m in a phase of expansion with my work right now with a goal of really sharing the message of business analysis much more widely. I’m connecting with people outside the BA space, and I’ve got to tell you, this brings up a lot of my own imposter syndrome. I get where you’re at. It’s tempting me to dial things back and stay small and talk to the people who already understand my message. But I know if I do that, I won’t get to make the full contribution I’m here to make.

How Imposter Syndrome Shows Up In Business Analysts

What I see is that imposter syndrome keeps some of the most talented professionals in the workplace also playing small. Could that be you? Is there a way that you are playing small to stay safe, to stay confident? It’s okay to feel nervous getting on the stage as long as you don’t let yourself doubt take you off the stage entirely.

Overall, most business analysts I work with tend to be entirely too humble. We tend to use “we” instead of “I” when it comes to celebrating our success. And then we use “I” instead of “we” when taking responsibility for failures. This means we over apologize when things go wrong and we undersell ourselves when things go right and we wonder why we have so much trouble with people valuing us as business analysts. We are valuing ourselves and our contributions. Here is what I think is happening.

How Our Analytical Skills Can Work Against Us

The very analytical skills that make us so intelligent and give us so much smarts to solve just about any problem that can come up in a business environment also make us perfectionists. When we turn that critical thinking ability, that analytical thinking ability on ourselves, we magnify all the things that we’re doing wrong and we dim what we’re doing right. We are great at picking things apart, especially when it comes to our own abilities, our skillsets, and our contributions.

I want to say that self-confidence is an inside job. When you lack self-confidence or you feel like an imposter, you project that uncertainty and others are less likely to trust your abilities and recognize the value of your contributions. It’s sort of like a vicious circle. These tips are how we rewire our brain for confidence and also how we bring our best selves forward.

Tip 1 – Leverage a Trusted Framework and Best Practices

Tip number one is to leverage a trusted framework and a set of best practices.

When I first started at Bridging the Gap, I was really surprised, not today, but at the beginning, I was so surprised at how people would ask me for my templates. It took me years to start selling them. My own imposter syndrome was really at play here. When I did finally start selling them, they flew off the virtual shelves and they still do to this day.

In fact, if you want to get a taste, you can download our business process template completely for free by clicking the link below just so you can see kind of what it’s like. You’ll learn how to ask your stakeholders powerful questions and get clarity on a project. You’ll avoid wasting money on software that doesn’t achieve an ROI, and you’ll easily clarify step by step workflows just with that one template.

> Download the free template <<

But the reason people seem to like templates is that they provide a trusted structure for best practices. They give you a starting point. When I was working for my new company that first time, it was that trust that I had in my ability to analyze requirements in use cases and to map out complex information systems that held me, that kept me grounded. It kept me saying I might feel uncertain now, but I know where I’m headed and I’ve done this before and I have a methodology. I have a way of getting to that next step.

I also, along the way, received some great advice about new techniques that were needed for the type of project that I was on that were unfamiliar to me, and so I sought out resources to learn about those techniques so I could be more effective.

Whatever this new task is or whatever’s bringing up this sense of self-doubt, look for a tool set or a framework that you can leverage.

If you are a business analyst, at Bridging the Gap, we have a step-by-step business analysis framework that you can leverage, and we know that this increases and maximizes the effectiveness and the credibility of the business analyst who put it into practice.

Tip 2 – Find a Trusted Mentor

Tip number two, find a trusted mentor. Someone that you can collaborate with. Someone who will give you honest and constructive feedback about your work.

When I was in my first systems analyst role, before I moved companies, I was craving this kind of feedback. I was new to this work. I wasn’t quite sure I was doing things right. I set up a peer review meeting with my four person team, and every other week we took turns to bring in our trickiest use cases for peer review and getting feedback from each other. We all benefited from the knowledge sharing about our projects, and this work also made our requirements deliverables more consistent as a team. But we also learned a lot while we were receiving feedback and also while we were giving it.

It built up my confidence to be able to read a use case from my fellow business analyst and give them feedback or point out something where I thought they could be more clear or a question that they might need to ask. That gave me confidence to be able to give them feedback, and it gave me confidence as well when they gave me that feedback both on what I was doing right and where I could improve.

Our The Business Analyst Blueprint training program we find participants achieve a lot of self-confidence because they, as part of the program, are applying what they’re learning and they submit it for instructor review. They receive feedback on what they did well and where they can improve. And so they really know where they stand. Often people within your organization just are not able to provide that sort of feedback on your business analysis deliverables. That sort of unbiased expert feedback can be really hard to find.

Tip 3 – Celebrate Your Wins

Tip number three is to celebrate your wins. If you’ve listened to any of my content, you’ve probably heard me talk about this before. It’s one of my favorite things to do. We do it inside all of our programs. We do it inside our team meetings. It’s really, really important, and if you are feeling imposter syndrome, it can re-ground you.

Start by making a catalog of your accomplishments. The projects that went well, the meetings that went well, the questions you asked that gained insights. Look back maybe even on your last year of work, or you might even go back further to look back in previous years or choose a few years or a few different roles so you can kind of get a pattern of your success and your sense of achievement.

If you happen to be looking for a job or updating your resume, this is really double duty kind of effort because these accomplishments are going to be your best preparation for a job interview there is. These are the stories you want to be telling in your job interviews is when you did things well.

Next, look at those accomplishments that really stand out and determine what action you took to create the result. This is where it’s really important to start thinking in “I” terms instead of “we” terms. Thinking in an “I” term does not mean that you weren’t collaborative. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a team player, but the fact that you ask good questions, that you draw the best out in others, that you help clarify objectives for the team. Those are actions that you took to be collaborative.

You really need to pull that “I” out and identify what you did, not just what the collective of the team did. That’s what really brings you, “I’m valued here. I’m needed here. I made a difference.”

Finally, make this a daily practice. Challenge yourself to identify three wins every single day. They don’t have to be big. It might be, I started a meeting on time even though a notoriously late stakeholder wasn’t online yet, or, I responded to a negative situation in a way that I’m really proud of. Or I felt the butterflies and I said the thing anyway. Or I really put this truly visual model in front of a team without obsessing over the lines and I saved myself a ton of time because I knew I was going to have to rework it anyway. Whatever it is, take a few minutes at the end of each day and just write down those three wins. It’ll really help solidify, on a daily basis, how much value you’re contributing.

Bonus Tip 4 – Improve Your Stakeholder Engagement

Now, I know I said three tips, but I wanted to leave you with one more bonus tip, and that’s really to invest some time and attention in how you engage with your stakeholders.

Often we can feel confident when we’re doing independent work, like creating documentation. But then imposter syndrome pops up as we’re starting to review requirements documentation with stakeholders. The better relationships that you already have in place with stakeholders, the more supportive they’re going to be of your work, and the easier it will be for you to show up with confidence. And also the easier it’s going to be to recover when you do make a mistake because you have some trust in place.

If you want to learn how to improve your stakeholder relationships, be sure to check out a new free guide that we’ve just produced. It’s called “10 Tips to Improve Your Stakeholder Relationships.” You can claim your free download by clicking the link below.

Overcoming imposter syndrome is a journey, but with today’s tips, you can build more confidence in yourself and your abilities as a business analyst.

Don’t stop here though. On the topic of confidence, we have another video that you should watch right now, specifically on building your confidence as a business analyst.

So claim that free guide on stakeholder relationships and then watch the video below. I’ll see you over there.

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