Imposter Syndrome: Own It and Get on With It

It seems like we are dealing with another epidemic in the work world:  Imposter syndrome.  Business articles are talking about the havoc imposter syndrome is having on young professionals.  Social media posts are everywhere with people saying they are worried they will be found out, right after they get a promotion or accolade.  My feed is cluttered with people who say they don’t deserve the credit they are getting and that they feel like a fraud.  Is there a chance we can find a cure for this epidemic?  The best cure is to own up to your insecurities and move past them.

Imposter syndrome is when you feel like you aren’t worthy of your accomplishments.  This feeling of being a fraud is very common among very successful and accomplished people.  Albert Einstein said he was an involuntary swindler.  Maya Angelou doubted she earned her accomplishments. When the feeling is very intense, it can hinder your professional career.  You may avoid applying for that “stretch” job or shy away from the spotlight that should be shined on your hard work.  The thing is, imposter syndrome is extremely common in highly successful individuals.

Don’t let imposter syndrome cloud your judgment.  You are talented and deserve the advancements you have received.  How can you start believing in yourself?  Here are steps to take to start owning imposter syndrome and get on with your life.

Steps to Own Imposter Syndrome and Get on with It:

Realize you are not Alone:  Many successful people have felt like they were a fraud at some point in their lives.  Knowing you are not alone can come as a huge relief, allowing you to put your energy into future endeavors.

Build on Past Accomplishments:  To move yourself forward, you need to build on your accomplishments.  Determine what you have been successful in, and remember those successes.  Write down what you have done, review it when you are having a crisis of confidence, and think about how you can capitalize on past successes for future projects.

Recruiter Tip:  A good way to write them down is in your professional profile on LinkedIn or on your resume. 

Ask for Help:  Finding a mentor is an invaluable resource for career development.  Is there a peer that you think has all the answers and you want to be more like them?  Ask if they’d be willing to discuss career strategies.  Do you really enjoy reading articles by a certain writer?  Send them a note of appreciation, and ask if they’d be up for future discussions.  Feeling in over your head after a promotion?  Ask the experts in your company for help, expertise and information.  That’s why they are the experts, and often they are more than happy to help.

Help Others:  While it is great to get a good mentor, helping a protégé can have big rewards too.  Share your knowledge with an interested pupil.  Helping others with their career aspirations is kind, and also gives you insight into new ways of thinking, working and relating.  You’ll be surprised by what you learn from your protégé.

Put yourself out there:  You’ve succeeded in the past, you have an excellent track record and you are ready for that next challenge.  Tell people you want that promotion.  Get involved in community events that will shine a light on your abilities.  Go for that advanced degree.

You are not an imposter, so don’t fear being found out as one.  Be found out for the success you are. 


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