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How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever feel like you’re not worthy of the success you’ve achieved?

Or that you’re faking it in your career and just waiting for someone to discover that you’re a sham?

Chances are you’re suffering from Impostor Syndrome. And you’re not alone.

The authors of our guidebook Beating the Impostor Syndrome estimate that 2/3rds of the executives they’ve coached struggle with impostor syndrome. These executives express feeling that they haven’t earned their accomplishments or somehow faked their way to success.

Self-doubt is really the seed of impostor syndrome, where you fail to recognize your capabilities even in light of clear evidence to the contrary. You worry whether someone will find out that you’re here by mistake, and you focus on the qualifications others hold that you supposedly lack.

Beyond making you feel terrible, impostor syndrome can limit your career and personal growth. It can lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion, loss of intrinsic motivation, and poor achievement.

“Impostor syndrome causes negative stress, fear, anxiety, and loss of confidence,” says co-author of Beating Impostor Syndrome Portia Mount. “It can knock careers off track and also harm team morale and organizational performance through micromanagement, slow decision-making, and perfectionism.”

The problem is particularly prevalent among women and minorities within the workforce. But anybody can fall victim to it. So how can you shift from feeling inadequate to feeling powerful?

The good news is there are some simple steps you can take right away to build your confidence and overcome impostor syndrome. By incorporating these 4 behaviors into your routine, you should have a more defined sense of the value and experience you bring to each exchange in the workplace. These tactics can help you start to own your success and stop feeling like a fraud.

4 Tactics to Overcome Impostor Syndrome:

  1. Focus on the facts.List your achievements and objectively assess the skills, capabilities, and qualities that helped you succeed thus far. Allow yourself to take credit for your accomplishments.
  2. Challenge limiting beliefs. Examine your deep-seated beliefs about the criteria for success. Then look for facts or examples to test whether these criteria are actually valid, and how they might hold you back. Recognize the valuable perspective you’ve gained from personal hardships.
  3. Claim your strength. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, embrace your assets and reflect on how to leverage them more fully. Advocate for yourself and own your strengths.
  4. Talk about it. Share your feelings with trusted friends, colleagues, or an executive coach to put them in perspective and help you reinforce the positive changes you are making. Then, move on.

Find more insights on how to tackle impostor syndrome and redefine success in our book Kick Some Glass: 10 Ways Women Succeed at Work on Their Own Terms.

If you’re still struggling to recognize your value after embracing these practices, it might be time to consider a shift in role, organization, or work style.

Whether the next steps involve a difficult conversation with your employer, going out on a limb to build a robust professional network, or taking the leap into self-employment, a healthy dose of self-confidence is required.

“You may want to stay in your organization and work with your employer to create a solution that works for you, but you doubt whether you’re worth it to them,” says Jennifer Martineau, co-author of Kick Some Glass: 10 Ways Women Succeed at Work on Their Own Terms. “If you want to shift entirely into the gig-economy space, you may ask yourself who would want to hire you, or if you have the necessary capabilities to support yourself.”

People often view “networking” in a negative light, especially women. But networking can help you take your career to the next level or build a supportive community of people facing similar dilemmas. Follow these 4 steps to network authentically.

A mentor or sponsor can also help you unpack and dismantle your impostor syndrome. Women in particular stand to benefit, but anyone can follow these steps to find a mentor or sponsor. Recognize that we often grow as people through the relationships we form, and that what you have to offer — while it may be hard to see sometimes — will likely help others develop as well.

Whether you’re ready for a change or just need a new perspective on your current role, Kick Some Glass offers reassurance: “You are more ready than you know. You have more talent than you may recognize… Trust yourself. Trust that all you have done before will serve you well. Trust that you are ready.”

To learn more about how we can help you develop as a leader and overcome the self-doubt of impostor syndrome, explore our flagship Leadership Development Program (LDP)®.

Source: Center for Creative Leadership