In a nutshell, Imposter Syndrome describes the psychological feeling of not being good enough despite solid evidence of ability such as qualifications and job title.

Ironically, it is most prolific amongst high achievers and those in senior positions and can be extremely detrimental when it comes to self confidence and professional success.

Let’s look at the characteristics of the 5 different strains of Imposter Syndrome identified by IS expert, Dr Valerie Young:

The Perfectionist:

  • Self doubt when things aren’t just right
  • Tends to over control and micro-manage
  • Never satisfied and therefore constantly worried things aren’t good enough

The Superman/Superwoman:

  • Overworks themselves in an attempt to cover up the fraud they believe they are
  • Starts early and stays late – a classic workaholic
  • Seeks out additional work regularly

The Natural Genius:

  • Judges their competence on natural ability to do something quickly and easily
  • Feels shame in taking time to learn something or not getting things right first time
  • Doesn’t like being mentored or corrected

The Soloist:

  • Feels that asking for help will expose them
  • Believes independence demonstrates ability and strength
  • Territorial over projects and wants to achieve things on their own

The Expert:

  • Measures their ability on how much they know, not their capacity to learn
  • Believes they will never know enough and fears this will be exposed
  • A desire to be the best in everything they do

Tips to fend of the effects of Imposter Syndrome:

Imposter Syndrome might seem pretty pesky right now but there are a few hacks you can use to keep it under control.

Make your objectives realistic

Setting goals that are too high and deadlines that are completely unattainable is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel like a great big pile of rubbish.

Instead, allow yourself a bit more slack, and you’ll be surprised at how much it can transform both your productivity and your wellbeing.

Take criticism constructively, not personally

This trick can be a struggle to master, especially when you care deeply about the work you do.

It’s even more of a challenge when you own a business and naturally want to defend any decisions you make.

However, make a conscious effort to see the situation from an outsider’s perspective and process any critiques you may receive from a more neutral point of view.

Use feedback to inform what’s best for your brand or business, rather than seeing it as calling your ability into question.

Accept help and mentoring when necessary

Sharing the workload and accepting the advice or guidance of others with the advantage of more experience is not a sign of weakness.

In fact, accepting support shows personal strength and a willingness to do whatever it takes to elevate your business, project or brand to the next level.

Make peace with your personal limitations

As well as seeking out any help you might need, become more aware of your own skill gaps. Accept them, do what it takes to fill them and then…

…see yourself as a constant work in progress

Gaps in your knowledge don’t have remain a daunting void of doom forever. Research, attend training or practice until you’ve acquired the new skill you feel you’re lacking and then move onto the next.

Are you battling with any of the above versions of imposter syndrome on a regular basis? Share you experiences and advice with us in the comments below!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments