How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever felt like you did not deserve a promotion, misled an interviewer with a few “embellishments”, or that the title on your business card gives you too much credit? Over 70 percent of people have experienced a similar feeling of fraudulence at one point or another. This “impostor syndrome” causes us to feel inadequate despite success, and we fail to recognize our accomplishments, attributing them to good timing or luck.

While this phenomenon is certainly common, it can also be detrimental to your career growth. When you feel like a fraud, it tends to lead to negative coping mechanisms (including overwork), as well as side-effects like crippling self-doubt, procrastination, risk-aversion, and hyper sensitivity to feedback.

Of course, there are ways to stop feeling fearful that you’ll be “found out” and instead elevate your confidence. Here are three simple tips on how to overcome impostor syndrome

1. Internalize feedback.

Stop sitting around thinking that you are surrounded by people who are smarter and more qualified than you are. It might be the truth, but there's nothing wrong with that. You should want to be around people you can learn from. Also, try to be objective by regularly keeping track of your success and failures. Reflect back on them for insight into your true, unbiased strengths and weaknesses. You are likely neither a failure nor absolutely perfect, but likely somewhere in between the two extremes.

To further defeat feelings of inadequacy, you can also arm yourself with a clear perspective by actively seeking out feedback - both positive and constructive. By strategically soliciting constructive criticism, you should be able to accept it as helpful rather than insulting. Do not react in a defensive or angry manner if the feedback is less than stellar. If you are able to handle it calmly and professionally, you will maintain relationships and better succeed in all of your endeavors. Also, when receiving positive feedback, embrace it objectively. Do not brush it off or lean too heavily on humility.

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Kurt Benson 4 years ago Member's comment

I once completely faked my way through a consulting gig. It was the most money I ever made in my life up until that point. But throughout the order, I always felt like I was going to be "found-out." They seemed pleased with my work, but I either learned on the job, or BS'ed my way through. I was glad when the contract was finally over. Though the money was good, I took zero pride in my work, felt no job security, and was all around stressed out. Stick with what you know.