Embracing the Imposter Syndrome Within: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Success

Stop Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a topic that often resonates with many of us, yet few of us genuinely recognize its presence in our own lives until we take a moment to reflect. My personal journey, which I’m about to share, is a testament to this. As I prepared for a talk at a conference about imposter syndrome among women, I found myself unexpectedly confronted with my own experiences. Despite having a successful career, I had, at times,  feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. It was a realization that throughout my career, I had been navigating the murky waters of imposter syndrome without even realizing it.

Unveiling the Imposter Within

Let me illustrate. My journey began in academia, where I ventured into anthropology with little knowledge of what lay ahead. Despite my lack of experience, I was responsible for developing a curriculum and guiding students through their academic journeys. Looking back, I questioned whether I was growing into my role or if imposter syndrome had silently guided my steps. At the time, I never thought of being an imposter. I knew I could overcome the challenges and be an effective educator and social scientist.

Transitioning into the corporate world, I found myself in unfamiliar territory repeatedly. From consulting in banking to executive roles in a savings bank and healthcare, each new challenge brought a wave of uncertainty. Yet, I never let my lack of expertise hold me back. Instead, I embraced the opportunity to learn and adapt, drawing upon my existing knowledge and skills to navigate uncharted waters.

When I launched my own business over two decades ago, I created a new type of consulting firm–I offered corporate anthropology services to companies that needed or wanted to change. I picked up clients remarkably fast. Many wanted to change and did not know how. I built my self-confidence and never looked back.

You can read more about my journey in my book, “Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business.”

Lessons from the Workshops at the M-Live Women Summits

As I finished the four workshops at the M-Live Women Summits, I was struck by the power of community and collaboration in overcoming imposter syndrome. The women in the room, each successful in their lives and careers, shared their own stories, generating over 75 different narratives. What they needed most, it became clear to them and me, was a group of other women to build their self-esteem, encourage and support their ventures, and create a community of confidence builders. By themselves, they saw weaknesses. Together, they felt strength. In a day and age when we are encouraging hybrid work and independence, we may need community and collaborators. We need to include the wisdom that comes from seeing each other in action, celebrating the achievements, learning from each other, and building better self-respect.

Overcome Imposter Syndrome by Building Confidence and Competence

Reflecting on my journey, I’ve realized that being an imposter isn’t necessarily negative. It’s about acknowledging our limitations and recognizing our potential for growth and adaptation. I didn’t fake it till I made it; I embraced the unknown and trusted in my ability to figure things out along the way.

For those struggling with imposter syndrome or facing unfamiliar challenges, our journeys offer several valuable lessons:

  1. Embrace the Unknown: Don’t let fear of the unfamiliar hold you back. Instead, see it as an opportunity for growth and discovery.
  2. Trust in Your Abilities: You may not have all the answers, but you have the skills and resilience to figure things out as you go.
  3. Adapt and Evolve: Draw upon your past experiences and knowledge to navigate new challenges, recognizing that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow.
  4. Own Your Narrative: Don’t be afraid to make yourself up as you go. Define your path and create your opportunities.
  5. Try Not to Let Others Define You: This is hard because we often know ourselves based on what others tell us. Not true. Be you!

About Our Work

We are trained coaches working with men and women who feel stuck or need help in their careers. If this is you, we can be of assistance. Whether you are moving into a new position and worrying about your competence or your confidence, or your team is changing, or your organization is moving in new directions, change creates pain–and often, that imposter syndrome pokes its head up and creates the worry you need to subdue. Remember, seeking assistance from trained professionals can be a powerful tool in overcoming these challenges.

From Observation to Innovation,

Andi Simon PhD

CEO | Corporate Anthropologist | Author