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ARTICLE: How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome


If you ever felt like you're not worthy or were faking it in your career, chances are you’re suffering from Impostor Syndrome, and you’re not alone.

The authors of the Center for Creative Leadership's guidebook Beating the Impostor Syndrome estimate that two-thirds of the executives they’ve coached struggle with self-doubt—feeling that they haven’t earned their accomplishments or somehow faked their way to success.

Beyond making you feel terrible, impostor syndrome can limit career and personal growth, lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion, loss of intrinsic motivation, poor achievement, negative stress, fear, anxiety, and loss of confidence. It can knock careers off track and harm team morale and organizational performance through micromanagement, slow decision-making, and perfectionism.

The good news is there are 4 simple behaviors that lead to building confidence and overcoming impostor syndrome.

  1. Focus on the facts. List your achievements and objectively assess the skills, capabilities, and qualities that helped you succeed thus far. Allow yourself to take credit for your accomplishments.

  2. Challenge limiting beliefs. Examine your deep-seated beliefs about the criteria for success. Then look for facts or examples to test whether these criteria are actually valid, and how they might hold you back. Recognize the valuable perspective you’ve gained from personal hardships.

  3. Claim your strength. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, embrace your assets and reflect on how to leverage them more fully. Advocate for yourself and own your strengths.

  4. Talk about it. Share your feelings with trusted friends, colleagues, or an executive coach to put them in perspective and help you reinforce the positive changes you are making. Then, move on.

If you’re still struggling to recognize your value after embracing these practices, it might be time to consider a shift in role, organization, or work style. Next steps may involve a difficult conversation with your employer, going out on a limb to build a robust professional network, taking the leap into self-employment, or asking a mentor or sponsor to help you unpack and dismantle your impostor syndrome. It may be that all you need is a fresh perspective on your current role, or trusting that all you have done before will serve you well. And follow the four steps above—it will help you recognize the value and experience you bring to each exchange in the workplace. These tactics can help you start to own your success and stop feeling like a fraud.

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