The Imposter in You

Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own shoes? Like the shoes don’t quite fit right—you’re feet are sliding around, and worst of all, you don’t even recognize the brand! You’re stuck thinking, these aren’t mine, they can’t be—they don’t even fit!

While analogous, the feeling here is one of confusion, doubt, and fallaciousness. And, if you’ve worn these shoes before, you are not alone.

In fact, you’re like 70% of the population who at some point in their career—feel like an imposter.

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when you believe you’re inadequate, incompetent, and a failure, despite all evidence that indicates your ability and success.

It’s a feeling that you haven’t earned your success—that you simply got lucky. You had the right connection and secured your role “by chance.” You feel like a fraud.

Worst of all, you constantly dread the day someone finds out— uncovers that you’re a fake.

Consequently, you doubt yourself, your skills, and your abilities. Your confidence plummets, and so does your concentration, focus, and ability to perform. Research finds that imposter feelings can even lead to mental health problems, as doubt encapsulates you until there is nothing left…

Truth is, imposter syndrome is devastating, and it can happen to anyone at any point in their life and career. This is especially true for high achievers who constantly question their achievements and doubt their longevity for success.

Thus, it’s important to be aware of imposter syndrome and start building up skills and techniques to combat it. Here’s a few techniques to start practicing at home and at work.

1. Set Deadlines: Create phone alerts, block off “to-do list” time in your schedule, or set a 30 minute timer to push yourself to act before you’re ready. Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you in your tracks. Instead, force yourself to get started, even if it’s just an outline, email, or quick paragraph. Commit to starting it. Truth is, there will never be the “perfect time” and your work will never be 100% flawless. The sooner you’re able to accept that, the better off you’ll be.

2. Remember What You do Well. Make a list of your past accomplishments and next to each one, provide evidence for the skill you used to make it happen. Keep this as a “live document” and continue to add to it. In moments when “fraudulent feelings” creep up, revisit this list to remind yourself of what you do well.

3. Create a Stamp of Approval. It’s time to start validating your own success. Strive to create some type of “stamp” or mark that validates your work—whether that’s a simple check mark or a savvy, personalized design—create a mark that means something. No one should have more power to make you feel good than you. Start nurturing your inner confidence by rewarding yourself with small reminders of small successes.

4. Puzzle Piece. Try seeing yourself as a work in progress—like a puzzle not quite finished. Accomplishing great things in life and at work involves lifelong learning and skill building—for everyone, even the high achievers!! So, rather than beating yourself up when you come up short on your impossibly high standards, identify specific, changeable behaviors that you can improve over time. Add a piece to your puzzle.

5. Find a Mentor. Asking for help is not a weakness—it’s a strength. It shows curiosity, initiative, growth mindset, and confidence. Look within and outside of work for people who you aspire to be like, and ask for their insight. It’s a compliment for them and an opportunity for you. No hero ever flew solo.

No matter the specifics, if you struggle with confidence and self-belief, it’s time for a new pair of shoes.

Chalking up your accomplishments to chance, charm, connections, or luck—that’s just downright unfair.

Start embracing your capabilities today.