Impostor syndrome is a natural part of many people’s career journeys but doesn’t have to dominate you, writes Alaina Love, who cites advice from CEO and entrepreneur coach Alisa Cohn. “One way to counteract the negative mind chatter is to replace it with a new narrative in which you see yourself positively,” Love writes.
“I feel like they’re eventually going to find out that I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve been feeling my way along for most of my career.”
Those words were uttered by an accomplished woman who was chosen by her organization to be part of a special development program designed to foster female advancement to the C-suite. Evelyn was the third woman that week who had expressed to me some version of “impostor syndrome” and was struggling to embrace her own greatness.
Despite holding multiple graduate degrees and being accomplished in her current role, Evelyn possessed a fear that she would sooner or later be exposed as a fraud. In her mind, being viewed as capable was intimately connected to her knowing all the answers to all the challenges that her team might encounter. If she didn’t, in Evelyn’s mind, she was a failure.
Imposter syndrome is not unique to women in the workplace. It happens to others as well, though it may manifest differently. Perhaps you worry that your luck is running out, and at some point in your career, you’ll encounter a problem that you don’t know how to solve. Maybe you look at other successful people and think, “They know how to do this better than I do,” so you devolve into a process of judging yourself harshly. None of this negative self-talk has ever helped anyone become more successful, yet so many of us engage in it.
Alisa Cohn, executive coach and author of the new book, “From Start-Up to Grown-up,” recently shared with me her experience with coaching CEOs and founders of startups.d.