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  • Writer's pictureLeeanne Carson-Hughes

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Imposter Syndrome – Is It Just Me?

A key reason why some people do not fully optimise their career potential is because they suffer from imposter Syndrome.

Instead of confidence they let self doubt control their career. Instead of applying for bigger and more impactful hobs, they settle for safe.

What exactly is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where an individual questions their capabilities and accomplishments, feeling like a 'fraud' despite ample evidence of their competence.

In essence they don't believe their success has anything to do with them.

It is prevalent among high-achievers in various fields and backgrounds and can manifest in different forms.

We often think others will not feel this way - it is just me. It can be hard to dismiss the feeling.

If left unaddressed, it can negatively impact self-esteem, and mental well-being and hinder career and personal development.

75% of all individuals suffer from what is known as the Imposter Syndrome, at some point in their life, according to Harrold Hillman PhD, author of the Imposter Syndrome (2013).

But my understanding is that it is not connected to depression or anxiety. Maybe more connected to our self esteem.

Even those with PhDs can fear they are not as bright and capable as others think they are and are often worried they will be “found out”.

If you have thoughts of:

· It’s probably because they like me

· Lucky for me that I was in the right place at the right time (I hope the luck holds out)

· I just work harder than the others

· I don’t really deserve this

· One day they will realise I don’t know what I am doing

· Someone must have made a terrible mistake in appointing me

You may be letting your inner Imposter have power over you.

Some of the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome can be either over functioning or under functioning in your work.

Do you recognise that you do any of these?

Are you finally ready to let the inner imposter go?

Is this holding you back from applying for bigger and better jobs that you are perfectly capable of doing even if it it a stretch?

Great, because I want to teach you about the 5 building blocks to tame the imposter syndrome and reach your full potential – no holding back anymore.

1. Raise your self-awareness and recognise when you feel this way

Impostor syndrome can affect leaders at all levels.

The number one way to combat this is to become aware when you are feeling like an Imposter.

Stop when you hear yourself thinking or saying the Imposter lines (e.g. I'm sure I will get found out one day) and consider the situation – why are you feeling this, what happened, what can you do to change it.

Check - are you just being modest - then don't buy into having Imposter syndrome.


Get some data if that’s your thing – a 360 feedback, staff engagement score for teams you lead, performance reviews and read them like you are looking at someone else’s feedback.

Find out how well are you really doing?

2. Learn to craft new ways of thinking for building self-confidence

Reframe your self-talk. Turn I’m not good enough to I’m making progress and will continue to improve.

Say thank you every time you receive a compliment or positive feedback – do not minimise your success by adding on a statement like – It was just a fluke I got this one right.

Own the role you have been appointed into. Use the title with pride. Set up your office / desk space suitable for the role you are doing. Dress appropriately.

Show up as your whole authentic self.


Find a few sayings/mantras that resonate for you and have them on your phone or wherever you look regularly.

· I have got this

· I am enough

· I am worthy

· I am rocking this role and making a difference

Consider a vision board or use Pinterest to put visual images that resonate with you in one place.

3. Drop the perfectionism - Progress is valuable

Progress is often as important in perfection in this fast paced world. Unless you are a surgeon or an Air Traffic Controller (Id rather like you to get things perfect!)..but the rest of us can usually focus on pretty bloody good or done rather perfect.

Waiting for things to be perfect can stifle your confidence and performance.


There will always be someone with more knowledge or qualifications but not usually right there right apply an approach of "I am never going to know enough or be perfect but I am happy helping people as much as I can right NOW".

Put on your big girl or boy undies and just do it!

4. Celebrating success and be a Force for Good

Celebrate all your achievements, no matter how big or small!

Write down your accomplishments, and reflect on these regularly.

Keep letters, cards and emails from admiring fans or thankful clients and refer to them on the more tricky days.


Be a force for good - make your work count and share it with others.

Share you successes with others on Linkedin or in your organsiation and build up your reputation and your confidence.

5. Forget the Mistakes and remember the lessons / Have a Growth Mindset

Just as this one says…sometimes you just gotta let the mistake go. But I do recommend that you reflect on what happened, what you learnt and what you would do differently next time. A plan can build confidence.

Build you your growth mindset muscle - a growth mindset.

"Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts)." Harvard Business Review (What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means by Carol Dweck January 13, 2016)


Find a Coach or Mentor to help guide you forward and build competencies to match the growing confidence.

Practice self-care such as exercise, meditation or therapy, to help manage stress and anxiety.

3 Resources that can help you learn more about Imposter Syndrome:

1. “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women" by Dr. Valerie Young, a book that identifies five different types of Impostor Syndrome and provides practical strategies for overcoming them.

2. "TED Talk by Dr. Amy Cuddy, "Your body language may shape who you are," which provides valuable insights into how body language and power poses can help combat feelings of inadequacy.

3. Harvard Business Review article - What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means by Carol Dweck January 13, 2016

Whenever you are ready there are 4 ways I can help you

Consider if 1:1 Coaching is the right tool for you at this time – I coach Executives and aspiring Executives all over New Zealand.

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