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Imposter Syndrome: Business Edition

Imposter syndrome “the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.” (

Do any of these feelings sound familiar to you? - low self-esteem, lack of confidence, negative self-talk, doubting yourself, indecision, comparisonitis, overthinking and worrying about the future.  If you have ever felt like an imposter in your workplace or business, then we promise you’re not alone. 

Did you know there are 5 types of Imposters as stated by Dr. Valerie Young in her 2011 book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.”

  1. The Perfectionist -You focus primarily on how you do things, often to the point where you demand perfection of yourself in every aspect of life. You might even avoid trying new things if you believe you can’t do them perfectly the first time.

  2. The Natural Genius- You’ve spent your life picking up new skills with little effort and believe you should understand new material and processes right away. If something doesn’t come easily to you, or you fail to succeed on your first try, you might feel ashamed and embarrassed.

  3. The Soloist- You believe you should be able to handle everything solo. If you can’t achieve success independently, you consider yourself unworthy. Asking someone for help, or accepting support when it’s offered, doesn’t just mean failing your own high standards.

  4. The Expert- Before you can consider your work a success, you want to learn everything there is to know on the topic. Since you believe you should have all the answers, you might consider yourself a fraud or failure when you can’t answer a question or encounter some knowledge you previously missed.

  5. The Superhero- You link competence to your ability to succeed in every job role you hold. Failing to successfully navigate the demands of these roles simply proves, in your opinion, your inadequacy. To succeed, then, you push yourself to the limit, expending as much energy as possible in every role. Still, even this maximum effort may not resolve your imposter feelings. 

It seems that even those who you think ‘have it all together’ can be affected. It can bring up all consuming thoughts that raises a conflict between your own self-perception and the way others perceive you.  A common theme as shown in the 5 types above can be that you may write off your successes as luck rather than skills as you genuinely don’t believe you have earned the right to the praise you receive. Despite linking your accomplishments to chance, you still insist on taking full responsibility for any mistakes you make and each one you do only reinforces your belief in your lack of intelligence and ability to do the job in hand.

But what can you do about it?

  • Avoid comparing yourself to others especially on social media. We all get a little FOMO at times but constantly scrolling your feeds can only results in trying to meet unrealistic expectations. Try limiting your social media time and curate your feed so that you are only following those accounts that bring positivity to your feeds.

  • Build a supportive professional network to avoid isolation especially if you work from home or for yourself as a freelancer etc. You may be surprised to know that just by talking to someone in your line of work can absolutely help break those dark thoughts down. 

  • Acknowledge your feelings and then challenge the doubts. Try separating your feelings from the facts and start and make sure you celebrate the little wins in your working life. Many jobs can feel thankless so be your biggest cheerleader! 

  • Build on your skills – You know that saying “knowledge is power” well it’s true but don’t wait until you know everything (as that could be never ending! _ confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behaviour first and allow your confidence to build. 

Try these steps and please know that you are AMAZING and we believe in you!!


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