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...
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‘The Perfectionist’ and Letting Go

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Here’s a thought to start: “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of blame, judgment, and shame.”

That’s from author Brené Brown, and, sure, we could just drop the mic here… because, well, Brené.  But, I still have more than 400 words left in this column, so let’s get after it.

It’s time to talk about The Perfectionist—the last archetype to unpack in our series on impostor syndrome. The perfectionist believes that the only way to be bulletproof is to never make a mistake. That’s right: never make a mistake. They labor to ensure everything they do and say is flawless.

Here’s how the perfectionist experiences impostor syndrome: you’re the fifth hire for a high growth, early stage startup.

New information is...

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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...

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‘Battle Cry:’ Watch our video salute to International Women’s Day

Uncategorized Mar 08, 2022

Happy International Women’s Day, Fam! In the spirit of waking up to a beautifully wrapped gift…we give you Battle Cry!!

  • To the queens who straighten our crowns and raise the bar…thank you!

  • To the women holdin’ it down in the community…I see you!

  • To ALL of you who inspire me to dream bigger, work harder and see possibilities—I’m deeply grateful.

Today and everyday.

THE VIDEO AND POEM

*Battle Cry is a commissioned piece written by Dasan Ahanu and visually produced by TR Laww Production.

The incredible women featured are Reinvention Road Trip Alumnae & Friends (in order of appearance) Kezia ‘Kate’ Goodwin, Shawna McKinnon, Tiffany Roach, Lucia Grandison, Lisa Guckian, Nicholé Morgan, Nicky Charles, Dasan Ahanu

Ya’ll brought it!!

Watch Battle Cry on the Jes Averhart YouTube channel.

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Fear That You Aren’t Enough?

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Deconstructing impostor syndrome is like planning for battle. Once you discover the chinks in the armor, you can take that monster down with a swift arrow to the exact right spot.

In the last two weeks, we discussed the best way to counter the superwoman / superman and the soloist impostor archetypes. Today we’re going to equip you with everything you need to counter the expert archetype.

How do you know if you default to the expert? Well, you probably lean hard on credentials and believe more letters behind your name validate you. Here’s how it shows up in your everyday life.

Let’s say you’ve been plotting to make a career change. Your strategy is to demonstrate your value through knowledge because you don’t think your experience will cut it.  So, you earn a new certification, but after crossing that milestone, it still doesn’t feel like enough. No worries, you’ll just enroll in another degreed...

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A Note to my Fellow Soloists…

impostor syndrome soloist Feb 24, 2022

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

In last week’s column, we discussed methods that could counter the superwoman/superman archetype. That archetype is one of five, as defined by Dr. Valerie Young, in her book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.”  The list:

  • Superwoman/Superman

  • The Soloist (that’s me!)

  • The Perfectionist

  • The Natural Genius

  • The Expert

So, join me, a Soloist, as we unpack the soloist archetype.

Yep, that’s right, I sit squarely in that corner.  But, that means I have extra insight to share with you this week.

THE SOLOIST

The soloist tries to solve problems on their own.  We don’t like to ask for help or ask questions in the moment and if we do let somebody else in, we feel like a failure.  We put the weight of the world on our shoulders and believe we should be able to handle things without assistance....

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Impostor Syndrome: It’s Time to Slay that Beast

Uncategorized Feb 17, 2022

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Hey we tried, but we can’t cover impostor syndrome in 500 words. It just can’t be done! Over the next six weeks we’ll zoom in on the what, why and how of it all. So let’s dig in so we can kick it to the curb.

Sweet Mary, impostor syndrome is getting a lot of attention these days. And while I have my opinions about why (which we’ll address in a later issue) it’s important to get the ball rolling on the topic by explaining the “what.”

Here’s the quick and dirty: impostor syndrome is the chronic feeling of inadequacy that, if not checked, can drive you off the road and into a wall of poor decisions, potentially stunting your forward momentum—like vying for that promotion, starting a new business or pursuing your master’s degree.

Turns out 70% of Americans admit to experiencing impostor syndrome. (And that’s just how many people admit to feeling this way.) JLo, Michelle...

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Lose Your Sizzle Pop? (Here's How to Get It Back)

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Last week we touched on energy. I reminded you that we all go through ebbs and flows and it’s important to take advantage of the ebbs to recharge. Today we’re going to dive deeper into two things that might sap your energy, and are unexpectedly connected to your goals.

Let’s take a hard look at the canary in the coal mine. Is your energy high or low these days?

If you’re like three out of five Americans, you shouted, “Low, Jes. I’m tired!”

Yes, it’s hard out here, folks. It seems like everything is pulling on our energy. Let’s take a minute to zoom in on “the why” so we can turn a corner on this phenomenon.

Energy sapper number one: your goals drain you. They lack inspiration and might be missing passion—there’s no sizzle pop!

Here’s some examples you might recognize: Sitting on boards just for the “exposure.” Working for the paycheck, but lost...

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Jealous Much? (You Might Just Be Tired)

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

January is in the books, and I’ve got two cohorts of the most extraordinary women off on the Winter 28 Day Reinvention Road Trip.

At the same time, I’m changing gears a bit and taking time to recharge. And this shift is connected to a comment one of our current cohort travelers made during the kickoff call.

Here’s what she said: 

“I struggle with being envious or jealous of people versus being inspired by them.”  

What an important observation! I’ve been thinking about it all week. And honestly, I know exactly what she’s talking about, and I’ll bet you do, too.

Sometimes instead of feeling inspired and energized when we meet someone who’s “got it goin’ on” we might feel jealous, maybe even envious.

Why does this happen, and how can we nip it in the bud?

Here’s what I’ve noticed. I’m most likely to be envious or jealous when I’m tired,...

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Saying Yes to One Thing Means...

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Last week we talked about the Say:Do ratio—in other words, do you do what you say you’re going to do? Are you known for your reliable follow-through, or do you get lost along the path to getting it done?  How you answer these questions is critical because walking around with a low Say:Do ratio can wreak havoc on your personal and professional relationships – eroding others’ trust and confidence in you.

Now, to be fair, most people with low Say:Do ratios are good-hearted and well-intentioned. The challenge arises when they forget that saying yes to one thing means saying no or compromising another. This misstep lands them squarely in an overcommitment minefield, disappointing those around them and creating unnecessary tension. And let me tell you, it’s hard to escape this territory unscathed.

So the question is how do we recover?  Better yet, how do avoid falling into the low Say:Do ratio trap?

Below...

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