Talk back to Imposter Syndrome

By Marianne Renner: Leadership Coach, Speaker, Author

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in a room full of successful people, and you think to yourself, “it’s just a matter of time before they find out I’m a fraud!”

Believe it or not, there’s a name for this. It’s called, “imposter syndrome.” Seriously, it’s really a thing.

And what’s more, it’s unbelievably common. Successful people often experience this phenomenon, and the more successful they are, the stronger it becomes.

The problems that result from imposter syndrome can range from general stress and anxiety to complete career sabotage. Many professionals, although successful, have actually stunted their career growth due to their internal dialogue that they are not as good as they appear to be.

I recently spent some time in Colorado, and had a fascinating discussion with a nice young couple on vacation. The gentleman had a terrific job as a technology specialist for one of the top tech companies in the world. We spent quite a bit of time talking about his work, and it was clear that he was a sharp, talented and hard-working young man.

So I was amazed when I started talking to him and his wife about imposter syndrome, to which he replied, “wow, I’ve been experiencing that my entire career.”

When I talk with my clients about imposter syndrome, they tell me things like, “I was in a meeting today, and I just don’t belong with these other smart, successful people.” This can result in a negative downward spiral of thinking that prevents career growth.

Professionals who struggle with imposter syndrome, are terrified of being discovered for the frauds that they believe they are. Even though they are accomplished in their careers, they believe they’ve gotten to where they are by luck or chance or an unbelievable interview that didn’t really show their true colors.

In general, they’re lacking a sense of empowerment, self-confidence and self-esteem.

So how can you get more confidence, empowerment and self-esteem?

Answer: you have to give it to yourself. You can learn to exchange your limiting beliefs for new, empowering beliefs that will impact how you see yourself and how others see you. By developing a few new habits, you can earn new levels of respect in the workplace and accelerate your career growth:


Begin having regular meetings with yourself, just as you would with an employee who wasn’t performing the way you’d like. Consider these meetings to be performance evaluations with yourself, and remind yourself that you are smart, capable, competent, intelligent and creative. Remind yourself that you earned your right to be in your position.

The key to real change is that these self-conversations must be backed up by evidence. The things that we truly believe are reinforced because we have evidence to prove them.

Document your successes

I have my clients keep a journal or log of their successes so they can begin to create new, evidence-based, empowering beliefs that replace the old limiting beliefs.

This can be difficult to do on your own, because oftentimes people discount their successes. If something comes easily, people often assume that it really isn’t a success. I once had a client who worked full-time, owned his own business and earned an advanced degree, graduating on the dean’s list. But he didn’t think of this as a success because school came easily to him. He would not have documented this as a success. He needed an outside perspective to help point out this huge accomplishment.

Continue to document your successes as they occur. Writing out every key win will build momentum. You will feel a sense of growing empowerment that over rides the old, automated thinking.

Download this Limiting Beliefs worksheet to help you stamp out imposter syndrome once and for all!

1 reply
  1. Adrienne Davis
    Adrienne Davis says:

    This is such a valuable resource, Marianne! Thank you! I’m going to share this article in one of my FB groups later today.


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