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Mayes Wilson & Associates

Ever feel like you got where you are through luck?

Sara Wilson, CPCC, ACC |

Most people feel self-doubt at some point in their lives. When fear of being unmasked as not smart, talented, or gifted enough causes stress, that’s called “Imposter Syndrome.”

I was recently asked to give a presentation on imposterism and leading with confidence. I thought about coaching clients who’d expressed variations on this theme over the years.

“I feel like a fake.”

“I’m not that good at what I do, I just work hard.

“That promotion wasn’t such a big deal…I must have been the only one who applied.”

” I can’t do that, I’m not an athlete.”

A lot of the literature on imposter syndrome focuses on helping people overcome such feelings of inadequacy, but I think it’s also important to help leaders understand what they can do to change the work culture so that imposterism has less chance to take hold.

5 ways to confront imposter syndrome

1. Talk about it: Talk to a mentor or professional coach. Consider finding one who matches your gender or ethnicity or both.

2. Affirm accomplishments: When you are saying to yourself “I don’t have the skills to do XYZ” stop and look at things realistically. Write down evidence that you have related experience, certain skills that will be applied, etc.

3. Embrace not knowing: Look at new situations as providing opportunities to learn something new instead of threats to your image of perfection. Have a “beginners mind” –a mindset of openness and exploration–as you try new endeavors.

4. Expect initial failure: Give yourself permission to make mistakes, especially when attempting something new.

5. Understand what confidence really is: You don’t need to conform to someone else’s or a culture’s idea of what confidence looks like. Be your authentic self.

Remember that you are worthy the way you are. You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval.

If you’d like coaching on these or other issues, give me a call, I’m here to help!


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