Graduate Coach Blog

The Ultimate Killer Blow to Feeling Like an Impostor

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Author: Chris Davies

Here’s the ultimate killer blow to cure you of impostor syndrome or feelings of inadequacy in your job or career forever.

In part one of this blog, The Cure for Impostor Syndrome for New Graduates and Everyone Else, I discussed how impostor syndrome is a phenomenon that describes the feeling of being a fraud in your job or career. You feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and that one day people are going to find you out and expose you. I shared how even great achievers suffer from it and how impostor syndrome can even affect you after years of being in your career.

I also shared what I believe is an effective cure against impostor syndrome, that we should reframe it by allocating it new meaning. To do this, we used FreshBooks CEO Mike McDerment’s take on the three main ways impostor syndrome often manifests itself, which are:

1. You feel like you don’t have all the answers
2. You doubt your own ability
3. You worry your fears might be proven true

Why the ultimate killer blow to feeling like an impostor works

The solutions were effective, and in this blog, I am going to share why with what I believe is the ultimate killer blow to and cure for impostor syndrome. It will help you combat feelings of inadequacy in your job and career forever.

Here it is: impostor syndrome is nothing but the sign that you are still learning.

Yes. As simple as that. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not weird, usual or inadequate but an alive and kicking human being who is still learning. That’s all.

So, impostor syndrome is a good sign because you should never be done with learning.

You may ask, “What about those people who feel like an impostor even though they have written books, sang songs and delivered keynote speeches on the same topic in front audiences many times before?” I’d say that they feel like an impostor because each time they write, sing or speak they are entering a new learning scenario. Each scenario is unique. That’s all.

What if I really can’t do the job!

You may ask, “What if I really cannot do the job?” or “How do I know I am really ready for that position?” I’d say, you cannot always wait until you are ready to start new things. How are you going to learn? How are you going to know? The time will never be right if you always wait until it is right. You can’t win if you don’t take the initiative. You must do new things if you want to move closer to your career goal.

The benefits to feeling like an impostor

Feeling like an impostor is good for you. To advance in your career you need to grow in your skills and to grow in your skills you must do new things. This is going to make you feel uncomfortable and inadequate sometimes. Accept it. If you want to get ahead in your career you must keep adding to your list of achievements, and the only way to do that is to keep achieving new things. That means a commitment to growth, development and new learning scenarios that will help you to move forward. Otherwise you’ll stagnate.

Don’t worry over making mistakes and looking foolish. You will, that is, make mistakes (not look foolish!) because that’s the price for growth and learning. As the book title goes, ‘Fail Forward’.

There is another benefit to this feeling of being an impostor. It helps us to remain humble, to learn and to build real relationships with each other. It opens us up to learn from those before us and to be an example to those coming behind us.

In their book, Humility is the New Smart, Edward Hess and Katherine Ludwig, researchers at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, describe this humility not as self-effacement but accurate self-appraisal. You must acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers, remain open to new ideas and commit yourself to life-long learning.

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