Overcoming Impostor SyndromeClaim Your Authority and Step Up to the Mic
If you’ve ever been afraid that your successes are sheer luck; that you’ll be found out any day now as a fraud; or that you don’t really deserve to be here (wherever here is), know this: You are not alone. What you’re experiencing is impostor syndrome, and it afflicts a huge proportion of the people I know who share two traits: They’re ambitious and conscientious. That is, they want to do great work in the world, and they care greatly about that work being done with integrity.
It’s rampant in the tech sector. It’s experienced by people of all genders. And I dearly wish I could wave a magic wand and make it go away, because it holds people back from stepping up – for promotions, for recognition, for roles that might bring them more squarely into the public eye. And I want to live in a world where ambitious, conscientious people aren’t afraid to step up.
Since I don’t have a magic wand, here are my favourite resources on impostor syndrome, and how to overcome it:
What is Impostor Syndrome, Anyway? (And why should I care about overcoming it?)
- Expert Enough: Slaying Impostor Syndrome and Stepping Up to the Mic – My personal story about facing my inner critic, plus a bonus story about my mom that illustrates how deep this goes.
- Meet Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., who with Suzanna A. Imes coined the terms “impostor syndrome” and “the impostor phenomenon.”
- Impostor Syndrome at Wikipedia – “Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.” Also, this: “The impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women, but there is some evidence it occurs in a comparable number of men. Another demographic group that often suffers from this phenomenon is people of color.”
OK, got it. Now what can I do about it?
Here are a few pieces I’ve written on shifting your relationship with impostor syndrome and your inner critic:
- Many of my best tips are summarized in this post: Expert Enough, Take 2: Why Impostor Syndrome Matters, and How to Overcome It.
- What are you expert at… and still learning? – in which I reframe the notions of “expertise” and “authority” to ditch the one-upmanship and embrace diverse perspectives.
- If your experience of impostor syndrome includes comparing yourself with other people, check out my post “Escaping the Comparison Loop.”
- The Wrong Kind of Research: Stop Throwing Your Dreams Into the Deep End – Drop the habit of compulsively over-researching your subject.
I cite these folks constantly, and highly recommend their work on the subject.
- Practice your power poses with Amy Cuddy’s TED talk: “Your body language shapes who you are.”
- Check out Tanya Geisler’s TEDx talk on Owning Our Authority, which lays out her ten-step process for moving from imposter to authority.
- While you’re checking out Tanya, drop by her site and sign up for her email newsletter to get a free copy of her workbook, “12 Lies of the Impostor Complex (and One Truth).”
- My techie peeps in particular might enjoy Julie Pagano’s PyCon talk, “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Battling the Invisible Monsters in Tech.”
- Learn about the different kinds of expertise from Tara Sophia Mohr.