Impostor Syndrome: What It Is & How We Conquer It

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We were delighted to have experts Kim Meninger (Women’s Leadership Coach and Consultant at Executive Career Success and host of the “Impostor Syndrome Files” podcast) and Sara Faatz (Director of Developer Relations at Progress) join us for the most recent MassTLC Professional Women’s Group meeting focused on Impostor Syndrome: What It Is & How We Conquer It. Meninger and Faatz guided our group through the ins and outs of impostor syndrome: how women experience it, what triggers it, and where it stems from. Attendees were able to gain tools and strategies for conquering their unique impostor syndromes to maximize their impact and influence. You can do the same! Just keep reading.

Do any of these statements resonate with you?

      • I attribute my success to luck or timing, rather than my own skills and talents.
      • I worry that others will find out that I’m not as competent or capable as they think I am.
      • I’ve unknowingly deceived people into thinking I’m good enough for this job.
      • I feel undeserving of my success.
      • At any moment, I may be exposed as a fraud.

These are the classic statements, or “symptoms,” of impostor syndrome. If any of these are things you have said to yourself, Meninger and Faatz are here to help.

What do we mean by impostor syndrome and what does it look like?

Impostor syndrome Warning Signs:

      • Anxiety
      • Perfectionism
      • Unwillingness to internalize positive feedback
      • Fear of failure
      • Fear of success

Impostor syndrome manifests itself as feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy despite contradictory evidence. To the outside world, we are doing great, but on the inside, we feel like a fraud.

It’s most common among high achieving people and frequently occurs at transition points in life. An example of this is when we are learning new things or stepping outside of our comfort zones, which high achievers tend to push themselves to do regularly.

And contrary to belief, impostor syndrome effects men, too! Seventy percent of the population will experience this feeling at one point in their lives.

Why does impostor syndrome matter?

On an individual level, impostor syndrome causes physical and emotional stress from constant anxiety. It can create inadequate professional relationships, which makes it difficult for you to reach your goals. This will reduce professional satisfaction and motivation, which puts you at risk of unreached potential.

On an organizational level, this is also a huge issue! If your employees are doubting their abilities, this could result in higher healthcare costs, decreased productivity, and a decrease in creativity and innovation. You may also end up with a smaller talent pipeline because so many qualified workers are doubting their abilities.

What is the true source of impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is an automatic response to unfamiliar things: in other words, it’s fear. It can be brought about by many different factors like gender stereotypes, early family dynamics, culture, attribution style, and more. For example, maybe you come from a family that valued achievement over everything, or your guardians were always changing between offering praise and being critical. Impostor syndrome becomes a triggered response to new events in your life, but it can be managed.

What are some actionable strategies you can apply immediately to manage impostor syndrome and boost your confidence?

Normalize your feelings. A lot of people struggle with this feeling. Fraudulent feelings are actually common. Nobody knows everything!

Challenge your self-doubt. Rather than focusing solely on the small mistake you made, focus on the concrete evidence instead. Does making a mistake mean you are undeserving of the position you are in? Does that one mistake undermine your years of hard work? NO!

Practice daily affirmations. This could be accepting yourself as a human being and acknowledging your essential worthiness. Accept yourself without any conditions.

Meninger and Faatz were able to pack so much information into a single hour. If you missed the impostor syndrome meeting, we are adding a recording of it below. We believe this meeting provides invaluable tools and stories to help guide you through your impostor syndrome. Watch the recording below to get the full experience, which includes Meninger, Faatz, and attendees’ personal impostor stories. Learn from each other and listen to empower our own confidence.

Thank you to our Professional Women’s community sponsors: