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Fighting Impostor Syndrome: What a Natural Genius Should Do When Going Gets Tough

This week’s impostor archetype is a tricky one—the natural genius.

You know this person. They coasted through school, immediately landed a sweet job and have an uncanny ability to draw from various wells of knowledge in conversation. But when faced with a topic or role that is out of range or uniquely layered, they tend to shut down, hide or freak out.

This coping mechanism is tied to the fear of failure or being viewed as incompetent.

If you’re a natural genius, you might relate to this:

Let’s say you’ve recently been promoted. No surprise, you knocked it out of the park in your last role and fully expect to soar in this new one. You’re in your first team meeting and your colleagues are speaking in unrecognizable acronyms. The diagrams on the screen are Greek to you, and you realize this new position is going to require you to learn a new software—and you’re NOT technical. At first you’re like, I got this, but as you dig into the training materials, it’s not coming together for you. The more you explore, the more lost you become, and suddenly you realize: this is going to take some serious work.

So what do you do?

You secretly start looking for other roles in the company that take you back to your comfort zone…a role you know you can crush. And as soon as you get an offer, you jump ship.

Or you decide to lay low until you get a handle this new material. There’s no way you’re letting on that you’re struggling. Afterall, your self-worth is rooted in “being a natural genius”.

Here’s the thing: the natural genius views their intellect as their superpower. And it IS a superpower, but as we know our superpowers can also be a crutch. These moments of growth are golden…lean in to the discomfort and see where it takes you.

Need a few counterpunches? Try these on for size.

  1. The silver bullet for all impostor types…tell a trusted friend that you’re struggling.

  2. Ask them what they think is the next right step. You’ll undoubtedly get insights that may help you figure out how to proceed.

  1. In these moments, remember that you’re leveling up. Growth comes from learning new things (hard things) and the pursuit of growth is a noble one.

Natural geniuses, we love your BRILLIANCE. But don’t stop there. Take the opportunity to dig in when it gets uncomfortable and expand your knowledge in new directions.


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