Imposter syndrome – what can you do differently to diminish its presence?

Alisa Cohn, Executive Coach and Author, ‘From Start-Up to Grown-Up’

The dread you feel of being ‘found out’. The anxiety and foreboding that the ‘fraud’ will be revealed one day. That you have been lucky in your career stints, the bosses and peers you have met. The new role will reveal not your hidden potential, but your actual incapacity.

Like me, perhaps when you commit to an audacious role or goal, the imposter is lurking around, making its presence felt. So draining to deal with!

I spent a lot of time looking for solutions to conquer and eliminate self-doubt. Quietly battling it and not revealing it saps energy. The remaining energy is spent trying to keep up with not being ‘discovered’ and you land up not taking chances, and eventually being risk-averse. What an incredible waste of my talent!

How to manage the imposter? Self-doubt never really goes away. Several of my clients are senior leaders, well regarded in their industry and networks, yet at some point in our coaching journey their agenda is – how to battle the imposter syndrome. 

The only way to manage it is to embrace it when it gets triggered, be curious about it, and take action to mitigate it. In the coming weeks, here is a way you can play with self-doubt. Bring a test-and-learn mindset and see what you discover.

1.   Acknowledge you are dealing with self-doubt. Reveal it. Let it surface.
2.   What are those 4-5 stellar strengths, unique to you, that have got you so far. Articulate it. Write it out . Remind yourself. Repeatedly.
3.   If you are a leader, get your colleagues or team to do the above exercise for themselves as well. It helps to have a circle that reinforces the need to focus on what you have, rather than the gaps you see.
4.   Step by step. That bold move you want to make to reach that big goal – break it down into small steps. What are the incremental steps that will help you get there.
5.   Act, don’t just reflect. You can land up by overthinking. The only way to defeat the presence of the imposter is take action. Reduce the introspection. Increase the actions that counter the imposter’s narrative.

What supports you in dealing with self-doubt? Add it to my list.

About Mandira Kala

Mandira is a qualified leadership coach. She is a graduate in Psychology from LSR, New Delhi, MSW from TISS, Mumbai, PhD in Public Policy from University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is passionate about developing leaders who contribute to their workplace by transforming mindsets, creating a culture of cultivating and harnessing people potential, and beating the odds to deliver beyond imagination.

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