A blog about leadership and confidence.

by Lisa Hinz     •      Leadership Development

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Imposter Syndrome - It's time to talk about it

Imposter Syndrome
Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

Why?  Because it’s a topic not discussed openly enough. And it can have big impacts.


Imposter Syndrome is when you don’t feel deserving of your accomplishments or that you’re not as competent as others perceive you to be. You feel you got to where you are by luck not because you earned it. You feel others are more experienced and therefore more deserving.  You’re afraid that you will never live up to the expectations placed upon you and that others will see you as a fraud. You put an extraordinary amount of pressure on yourself and on and on…


It’s an unsettling feeling. If you put yourself in any of those scenarios, you can imagine how that can potentially impact your career.


I can give you a good example because it happened to me.


Years back I was offered a promotion. I didn’t feel I was experienced enough. I didn’t feel credible enough. I felt I would fail. The self-doubting thoughts that shot through me like a bolt of lightning created a level of anxiety and stress that wasn’t healthy.  Instead of stepping up and taking the bull by the horns, I turned it down.  There were others who would’ve jumped at the chance – and I turned it down.  That is just one example of how Imposter Syndrome can impact one’s career.


I’m a poster child for it, which is why I’m so passionate about this topic.

My self-doubt won out at that time. I let it win.


We don’t typically stop to assess why we think or feel the way we do – to understand where these self-sabotaging thoughts come from. We just simply think and feel. We stay in autopilot mode because it’s easy and by nature, as humans, we like easy.  We like convenience.


If you have experienced Imposter Syndrome, what I’d like you to consider is this: just because your experience doesn’t exactly align with someone else’s experience does not make you less worthy.  It does not make you less deserving.  YOU offer something completely unique from anyone else and THAT is what makes you stand out.  Maybe that other person who seemingly has more technical experience than you doesn’t have the leadership experience or natural leadership presence that you offer.  You may have the perfect ingredients of the recipe your company is looking for.  There can be a multitude of reasons why YOU were the chosen one for the opportunity that you received.


Imposter Syndrome is tough enough all on its own. What makes it even more challenging is that many of those who experience it don’t talk about it. It's estimated that 70% of people will experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime (1).  That’s a BIG number!


It’s hard for someone to voice their self-doubt out loud. It’s hard to say, “Hey, yeah, I was promoted and put in charge of a lot of people but I don’t think I can do this!” or, “I appreciate being selected to be the lead project manager on this but what if I don’t make the right decisions or something falls through the cracks?”


Those of us who experience Imposter Syndrome need to know:

  • It’s okay to not have all the answers.
  • It’s okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes.
  • It’s okay to not be perfect.
  • It’s okay to be proud of your own accomplishments.
  • It’s okay if there are people in the world who don’t agree with you.
  • It’s okay to believe in yourself.
  • It’s okay to admit you don’t know something.


It’s okay.  No one is expected to know everything all of the time in every situation and be completely perfect. That isn’t how the world works.


My mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “don’t cry before you’re hurt.”   I had no idea at the time how that sentiment would translate in adulthood and make so much sense.  Most of the scenarios that can play out in one’s mind have never happened and more than likely never will happen. The time and energy spent on this rumination can be extraordinary.  Imagine what could happen if you were to redirect that same time and energy towards something productive?


Instead of talking openly about Imposter Syndrome, we internalize our struggles and we let that initial self-doubting thought create more self-doubting thoughts until they’ve created an entire army that seems to overtake any confidence one has ever had.   You might think, “this is just a momentary thing – it will soon pass.”  And maybe it will.  But for some, those days turn into months and those months can turn into years.


It's time to take down that army.  Don’t let it continue to invade you.


Get your forces together. Unbury and dust off your confidence and resilience. They’re in there – you just have to learn how to reconnect with them.  That’s what I did.


And I ended up getting that promotion at a later time. In the end, it worked out. I could say that I lost some precious time because of it, but I don’t look at it that way.  I experienced something much more important – self-discovery.  I learned a lot about myself that I may not have otherwise. I developed self-mastery, which is all about understanding, appreciating, and learning from the actual journey of self-discovery - not just wanting to easily and quickly land at the final destination. I would’ve missed out on a life-changing experience that I will benefit from for the rest of my life.


Now, let’s open up the conversation and talk about it, because you’re not alone.


Curious about Imposter Syndrome?  Here’s a complimentary copy of my “10 Common Signs of Imposter Syndrome” for you to read.


#theconfidencetrack, #impostersyndrome, #confidence, #resiliency, #success

Lisa Hinz Writing

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