Impostor syndrome is a common experience among professionals. Despite evidence of competence and achievement, imposter syndrome makes us feel inadequate and fear being exposed as a fraud. It’s more amplified for immigrants, women and minorities. The lack of representation in leadership roles fuels self-doubt, making them feel like they’re playing a game with unclear rules that shift against them.

As an immigrant who has become a company leader, I have struggled with imposter syndrome. This feeling emerged early on and made me doubt myself as I navigated new territory and pursued ambitious goals. Despite consistently meeting and exceeding those goals, that inner voice would pipe up, saying, “They just got lucky with you this time.” Recognizing this phenomenon is the first step in overcoming self-doubt and reducing its impact on one’s professional life.

Forms Of Imposter Syndrome And Career Impacts

Imposter syndrome can take on various forms—from perfectionism that delays deals to fear of failure that avoids bold pitches—and its impact on business development is particularly potent. It can lead to missed opportunities, stifled creativity and burnout, holding back professionals from reaching their full potential.

Over the years, I’ve learned to manage this pesky impostor through a combination of self-awareness, conscious reframing and seeking support. Acknowledging how imposter syndrome manifests in you is crucial to developing effective strategies to counteract its influence. To do this, you must recognize personal triggers and thought patterns contributing to imposter feelings. These imposter triggers often originate from internalized beliefs, external pressures or specific situations.

Imposter Syndrome Solutions

To help combat imposter syndrome, it is essential to understand your strengths, identify areas for improvement and recognize when imposter feelings arise. By doing so, you can take proactive steps toward building a healthier mindset.

Cognitive behavioral techniques were game-changers for me. I used to get stuck in a loop of self-doubt before presentations, but replacing those negative thoughts with positive affirmations (i.e., “I’m prepared,” “I have valuable insights to share,” etc.) made a huge difference. It shifted my mindset from hoping I don’t mess up to being excited to share my expertise. Taking actionable steps also helped. Practicing my pitch and getting feedback from trusted colleagues built my confidence and helped me refine my message.

Here are some other ways to help manage imposter syndrome based on what I’ve learned through my own journey.

Setting Realistic Goals And Celebrating Wins

Creating achievable goals and celebrating small victories are important for building confidence and fighting imposter syndrome. Breaking down your career goals into smaller, manageable tasks can help you achieve them more quickly and build a strong foundation of confidence. Celebrating every win, no matter how small, is crucial to reinforcing a positive mindset. Make sure always to celebrate your accomplishments in your career and life.

Building A Supportive Professional Network

A strong and dependable professional network can be beneficial in dealing with imposter syndrome. Focus on creating a network of peers and mentors who can support you when you encounter these feelings.

To build a supportive network, connect with friends and colleagues who can understand the challenges of imposter syndrome. When you experience these feelings, your network can give you a fresh perspective, constructive feedback, guidance, encouragement and a reality check to help you through tough times.

Gathering And Leveraging Positive Feedback

Imposter syndrome can be countered with positive feedback and accomplishments. Record positive feedback and use it to combat feelings of fraudulence. Actively request feedback and create a record of your accomplishments to refer to during moments of self-doubt.

Developing Competence And Acquiring Skills

It’s crucial to focus on professional development and seek resources to acquire the skills that will help boost your confidence. Remaining stagnant in your skills can contribute to imposter feelings, while continuous learning will help you stay relevant and confident in a rapidly evolving professional landscape. Many resources, such as online courses, workshops and conferences, are available to facilitate skill acquisition.

Practicing Self-Compassion And Mindfulness

Self-compassion is a mindfulness exercise that can help you maintain a balanced perspective on your abilities and achievements. Cultivating the Five Things exercise is one easy mindfulness technique that has helped me a lot. At the end of each day, I take five minutes to jot down five things I’m grateful for, big or small. It could be a successful meeting, a kind interaction, a beautiful sunset or anything else I feel grateful for. This shift in focus from “What could I have done better?” to “What went well today?” helps me acknowledge my accomplishments and build a more positive self-image. This exercise is a quick and easy way to reframe my mindset and remember my worth, even when I feel doubtful or insecure.

Visualizing Success And Performing Role-Play

Visualizing and engaging in role-play exercises can significantly boost confidence and prepare individuals for challenging situations. This involves mentally practicing success scenarios, which can reduce anxiety and enhance performance in professional settings. By incorporating role-play exercises into professional development, individuals can practice and refine their responses in a supportive environment, ultimately building confidence for real-world situations.

Navigating Failure And Learning From Mistakes

Constructive self-evaluation plays a vital role in transforming setbacks into growth experiences. Failure is inevitable in professional growth, and reframing it as a learning opportunity for developing resilience in the face of challenges is crucial. Instead of giving in to self-doubt after a failure, individuals can engage in constructive self-evaluation. Objectively assess your mistakes and use them as stepping stones for improvement.

To overcome imposter syndrome, taking a multifaceted approach that includes self-awareness, a positive mindset and continuous personal and professional development is necessary. The strategies I have shared in this article can help you build resilience and confidence and better perceive your abilities. Everyone faces moments of doubt, but with the right tools, imposter syndrome can be transformed from a barrier into a stepping stone for growth and success.

This article first appeared on Forbes


Lomit is a marketing and growth leader with experience scaling hyper-growth startups like Tynker, Roku, TrustedID, Texture, and IMVU. He is also a renowned public speaker, advisor, Forbes and HackerNoon contributor, and author of "Lean AI," part of the bestselling "The Lean Startup" series by Eric Ries.