Fighting Impostor Syndrome: Here’s How You Can Overcome It

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Today we’re bringing our series on impostor syndrome in for a landing! We’ve dug deep into the 5 various impostor archetypes Dr. Valerie Young identified in her book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.” If you missed out, you’ll want to check out the past articles to learn more about each archetype, including what each looks like in real life.

But today we’re zooming out to look at impostor syndrome from 30,000 feet.  Generally, we default to our impostor archetypes when we’re feeling threatened, insecure or are questioning if we are ready for a new challenge. The question that rattles us so deeply is: “Do I really belong here? Do I have the right to be in this room?”

The following are four powerful tips that I use in my own life to help counteract this feeling of falling short or inadequacy.

  • Get honest. Tell someone you are struggling. Listen to their response. Take their feedback to heart!
  • Get rid of the “if/then” statements. Here are some examples of ridiculous if/then statements that have no validity and make us feel inferior until we achieve these artificially set goals. These standards are self-imposed and carry no weight! Recognize them as such, and ditch them.
    • Example: “If I get named 40 under 40, then I can go after my dream job.”
    • Example: “If I net 50K this year, then I can call myself an entrepreneur.”
    • Example: “If I get invited to speak more than 5 times, then I can add ‘speaker’ to my LinkedIn profile.”
  • Realize that sometimes being an outsider is normal. If you’re starting a new job or just received a promotion, it’s natural to feel like you don’t quite fit in yet. It’s okay! Time will take care of that.
  • Remember that you didn’t get this far on your good looks and charm. You are talented and accomplished, and you can prove it if you look back at the highlight reel of your career.

As you consider strategies, I want to bring you back to the core question that often rattles us:

“Have I earned the right to be in this room?”

That’s the heart of it, isn’t it? And the answer is: YES. YOU. DO.  Your voice matters.  There’s nobody else who brings your perspective, your energy, your insight… your special blend of YOU. You didn’t get wherever you are today by sheer luck.

The room is better with you in it. I believe that. Truly.  And you should too.


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