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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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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 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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5 Archetypes - Which Impostor are you?

Oh, sweet marmalade, everyone's talking about impostor syndrome these days?  It’s the phrase that’s being thrown around right and left; but…what the heck is it, exactly? 

Well, it’s a feeling. Bottom line.  A feeling of being a fraud, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and capable.  If not put in check, Impostor Syndrome can drive you to make decisions that hold you back.  You see, impostor syndrome is sneaky and persuasive.  It has ways of convincing you that you aren’t good enough.  This tricky mindset can put the kibosh on the pursuit of your dream job, the start of that blog for millennials, or going after that new role in your department.   Yep, Impostor Syndrome is a feeling that if gone unchecked can wreak havoc on your life and have you doubting even the most logical next step.

 “Impostor syndrome causes negative stress, fear, anxiety, and loss of confidence,” says...

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