As I’ve been working with impostor syndrome – both within myself and with my coaching clients – I’ve found that an essential reframing is needed when it comes to the concept of claiming expertise.

We confuse expertise with infallibility. And we hear “expert” in so much marketing-blabbety-blah that we’ve begun to equate it with “blowhard who expects us all to drink his or her koolaid.”

Now, you may have irreconcilable differences with the word “expertise,” and in that case you may wish to substitute other language: Claiming authority. Stepping into your power. Leadership. Playing bigger. Expanding beyond previous limits.

The essential pieces for me are that you both own what you know, and stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. 

It’s not enough to say, “I’m an expert middle manager,” or “I’m an expert at returning emails promptly,” knowwhatImean? Claim your authority, here – not just something you’re unquestionably competent at.

One phrase that’s proven remarkably helpful for many people is this: Expert… and still learning. 

Simple. You can be an expert, but not infallible. An authority, and still asking questions.

What’s the language you need to use to both stake your claim, and edge out of your comfort zone?


On a related note, several friends and sheroes of mine are offering brilliant online courses at the moment. (‘Tis the learning season, after all.) If you’re in an expansive state of mind, I recommend checking them out.

(I’m not an affiliate for any of these, by the way – I get no kickbacks. I just think what they’re doing is awesome.)

  • Hiro Boga’s Become Your Own Business Advisor. Hiro teaches something she calls “energy alchemy,” and applies it to business. I’m not quite sure how to describe it (and rigorously left-brain types will likely take a pass) – but if it speaks to you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Hiro is a brilliant, wise, and a masterful teacher who has worked with and honed this powerful material for over thirty years. It starts soon, so don’t delay.
  • Tanya Geisler’s Step Into Your Starring RoleLike me, Tanya is passionate about helping people overcome impostor syndrome. She’s also a firecracker, and the embodiment of warmth and generosity. If you hear whispers of “I’m not ready yet” nagging at you, this is for you. She’s got a couple of telejams lined up, to give you a taste of what’s to come.
  • Ali Shapiro’s Truce With Food. If, like me, you’re exhausted by the way our culture deals with food (language like indulgence, sin, decadence, strict, discipline, willpower, etc. etc.), you will breathe a sigh of relief when you start reading Ali Shapiro’s intelligent and insightful perspective. She just launched her new website, and it’s lovely. I’m so glad I found her – the notion of making a truce with food has shifted some longstanding internal junk that needed reorganizing. There’s also a book coming, which you can learn about here 
  • Randi Buckley’s Of Course You Can: Complete Creative Course & Curriculum Design for Coaches. It’s sold out, but I highly recommend signing up to be notified for the next round. Randi’s deep expertise and gentle wisdom are a killer combination.
  • Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. I am a huge, huge fan of Tara’s work; she’s brilliant, compassionate, and wise. She just landed a big book deal for this material, so this fall is the last time she’ll be offering this course for a while. Everyone I know who’s taken it says it’s a game changer.

What are you expert at… and still learning? I’d love to hear it.