Have you ever been promoted, taken a new job, or started a business and felt like a fraud? This is called imposter syndrome.
Illustration by Chris Do
Anyone can have it. The comedian Tina Fey said, “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re onto me! I’m a fraud!’”
Former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, revealed, “Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true.”
I experienced imposter syndrome while attending a daily stand-up meeting with an executive team from Yahoo! I felt like a fraud in front of this group of brilliant minds.
You know you have imposter syndrome when you discount or diminish your own abilities. It can feel debilitating when you doubt yourself. Under stress, your brain is trying to predict what action to take: flight or fight. You have to release your stress through exercise, relaxation, wellness practices, and sleep.
Left unchecked, stress will lead to impaired functioning, poor decision-making, black and white thinking, and isolation. Basically, you’ll stop doing all of the things you used to love.
No one likes to fail, to not have the answers, or feel unable to master something. Imposter syndrome is a productivity killer.
In her TED talk, Thinking Your Way Out of Imposter Syndrome, Valerie Young recommends reframing the negative conversations going on in our head by replacing unhelpful thoughts with more positive or adaptive ones. She encourages thinking like someone who is not feeling like an imposter; they know they can’t be brilliant at everything, and they are fine with that.
Practice reframing the negative thoughts to positive ones, and over time you begin to believe your new thoughts. It's much better to have an imposter moment than an imposter life!
What's on the other side of imposter syndrome?
Getting your confidence back and feeling great about yourself again
Being connected to yourself and the people around you
Feeling free to speak, be creative, and be the best leader you can be
Extraordinary leaders, like you, who shatter glass ceilings, don’t allow themselves to remain a hostage to imposter syndrome for very long. They recognize the pattern when it rears its head, and they use tools like reframing to work it out of their system.
Businesses depend on leaders to make decisions based on fact, not beliefs brought on by feeling like an imposter.
In my 1:1 coaching program, I help leaders identify and manage limiting beliefs, so you can lead with sustainable abundance and grounded optimism.