10 Steps to Conquer Imposter Syndrome Once & For All

Young tired business woman with headache sitting at seminar

Can you recognize yourself in Lynne’s story?

Lynne is a 40 year-old Director of Marketing for a well-known retail corporate headquarters.  She is an Ivy league graduate with an impressive track record, currently leading a team of 15.

But as Lynne sits in the boardroom attempting to do her best to “lean in,” she struggles to shake off an underlying feeling of the dreaded “imposter syndrome.”

“Who am I to be sitting at this table, with these people, at this meeting?  I’m out of my league.  I have nothing of value to add.”


“How did I even land a job at this company in the first place & how long until they let me go?”

Leading her to start day-dreaming…

“Even if they did let me go… my dream has always been to become an entrepreneur.”

Coming full-circle back to…

“But who am I to go after a pipe dream like that?  I’d never be able to bring my dream career to life…”

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome occurs when you doubt your accomplishments, with a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” who duped your way to the top.

It’s a belief that everyone else succeeded on their own merit, but you somehow stumbled into it.

In a nutshell, you aren’t able to internalize your own your successes.

Problems Created By Imposter Syndrome

The problem with imposter syndrome, is that when we internalize messages that we aren’t good enough, are inadequate, or are unworthy… our inner skeptic undercuts our ability to actualize our full potential.

Instead of taking action towards achieving career fulfillment and success, our thoughts keep us holed up in paralysis.

Who Has Imposter Syndrome?

The good news is… you are not alone.

Imposter syndrome is absolutely normal.  In fact, 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career.

However, when it comes to imposter syndrome, most of us are trapped in “pluralistic ignorance.”  This is when we think we are suffering alone because no one else voices their own doubts.

As you have likely experienced, this is especially pervasive in a corporate environment where admitting this could leave you feeling vulnerable to vultures.

Interestingly, those most commonly afflicted with imposter syndrome are high-achievers.

5 Types of Imposter Syndrome

Valerie Young, an expert on the subject & author of “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women:  Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It,”  has categorized imposter syndrome into 5 subgroups.  Where do you fall?

1. The Perfectionist

Perfectionists set excessively high goals for themselves, and when they fail to reach a goal, they experience major self-doubt and worry about measuring up.

2. The Superwoman

Superwomen push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up (a cover-up for her insecurities).  She stays late, feels uncomfortable during down time and may feel addicted to the validation that comes from working (versus to the work itself.)

3. The Natural Genius

The Natural Genius feels if she has to work hard at something, she must be bad at it.  She harshly judges herself based on her ability to quickly and fluently get things right on the first try.

4. The Rugged Individualist

She feels as though asking for help unmasks her imposter within.

5. The Expert

The Expert feels like she tricked her employer into hiring her. She fears being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable.  Hint: if you shy away from going after a new career unless you meet every single educational requirement, you my friend, are an expert.

How to Rid Yourself of Imposter Syndrome

1.  Acknowledge it.  Embrace it. Disempower it.

  • Identify… what is your imposter syndrome’s message?
    • For example… “I’m not good enough at {fill in the blank.}”

    • Or, “Who am I to think I could land that kind of role, switch industries, or open my own business…etc”

  • Understand… your imposter syndrome message likely served a purpose at one time in your life.
    • Perhaps it came into play at a time in your past where you felt humiliated by a toxic boss or put on the spot.  Your imposter syndrome may have appeared to keep you safe or protect you from perceived or imagined humiliation going forward.

  • Question…
    • Why is your imposter syndrome message here today?  Consider the first time in your life (even back to your younger years) when this message may have appeared.

    • What purpose is it trying to serve by holding you back?

    • What core beliefs do you hold about yourself?

    • Must you be perfect for others to approve of you?

  • Work with a coach to dig even deeper.   Bonus Round:  Click here if you’d like to schedule a complimentary session specifically designed to conquer your imposter syndrome once and for all.

2.  Create a list of your achievements and a file of praise.  Keep on hand for emergencies when you feel that imposter syndrome creeping in.

3.  Give yourself a reality check.

  • You found a way to get where you are today.

  • What tangible steps did you take to get here?  (Hint – those steps alone show you are deserving to be here.)

  • If you have a healthy relationship with your supervisor or recruiter, ask them to share why they hired you.  If they believe you can do it, you most likely can.

4.  Notice what triggers the imposter syndrome.  During periods of growth especially you’ll find  the voice of your inner critic becomes louder.

5.  Take Action.  Action crushes imposter syndrome.  Push yourself to act before you’re ready. There will never be the “perfect time” and your work or credentials will never be “perfect.”  The longer you wait to act the more you are fueling your imposter syndrome.

6.  Develop a list of affirmative mantras (that you believe.)  Such as…

  • It’s ok to fail.  To be wrong. To lose.  Through all of this I learn.

  • I can succeed without being perfect.

  • I am a work in progress and a life long learner.

  • Part of growing is that I don’t need to know it all.

  • {Insert your own here.}

7.  If you are lacking at a particular skill set, ask for help.  Embrace constructive criticism as if the person giving it to you were coming from a place of great intention in order to help you succeed.

8.  Kick comparison to the curb.  We were each created with our own unique purpose.  No doubt you have something to offer that the person sitting next to you does not.  Ask yourself whether comparing yourself to your co-workers is truly serving you.

9.  Remember, the longer you cling to your imposter thinking and stay stuck in paralysis, the longer you are robbing the world of your most precious gifts.

10.  Not knowing an answer doesn’t make you an expert or a fraud.  Own your quest for answers and commit to finding them.

Let’s do this.

Get Unstuck Once & For All

Ready to take this concept to the next level so you can achieve your dream career?

You may want to consider taking the “Get Unstuck” Assessment.

Recognized by Forbes as a Top 10 assessment for understanding strengths and weaknesses, this assessment breaks down your most dominant thought patterns and sorts them into seven levels of consciousness. The results reveal your default behavioral patterns in normal, everyday situations as well as in stressful situations, and gives you ways to consciously create an entirely new playbook for your life and career.

You’ll receive:

  1. A 20 minute online assessment

  2. A 10 page customized report with your results

  3. A 1 hour debrief with me where I’ll tell you why you are stuck and actionable steps on how to make a concrete change in your career.


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  • Expires 11/8/18

Whether or not you choose to take advantage of the Get Unstuck Assessment to achieve your dream career, my wish for you is that this article will help you conquer your imposter syndrome once & for all.


Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is a certified career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers.


Article sources include:  Time, iPEC, Forbes, Medium, Verywellmind, The Daily Muse

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