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The Role Imposter Syndrome Plays In Your Success

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You don’t need to get rid of imposter syndrome. Here’s a 3-step process for using imposter syndrome to your advantage.

When we were little kids we used our imagination to tell stories in which we were a main character.

You’d make yourself the princess, or the doctor or the builder.

My story was that I was a superstar singer everyone wanted to see. I’d have a pretend microphone, stand on a fake stage and sing my little heart out (I may or may not still do this).

We’d make ourselves the heroes of our own stories.

And then somewhere along the way, we’re taught that stepping into the role of hero was arrogant. Impolite even.

It felt unsafe. Like something bad will happen if we believe in our own greatness.

Fast-forward to today where you’ve built an incredible career for yourself.

You may still aspire for more, but what you’ve created so far is something to be celebrated.

However, despite your success, you doubt yourself.

That’s what a lot of people refer to as imposter syndrome.

As an example, it probably made you uncomfortable when I said you’d built an incredible career for yourself.

You probably wanted to say “well… I wouldn’t call it incredible.”

Or “it’s not exactly what I want, but …”

Or “It would be better if…”

Or “I’m only here because …”

You want to diminish your own achievement instead of stepping into the identity you’ve worked hard to create for yourself.

I get it.

It feels easier to stay small.

But that’s not aligned with the big things you’re trying to create for yourself.

So, rather than try to get rid of imposter syndrome, I want to offer you a 3-step process for using imposter syndrome to your advantage.


Part of the problem with imposter syndrome is you think something is wrong with you. But what if imposter syndrome is a sign that everything is right with you?

Consider this…

You only feel like an imposter when you’ve accomplished more than you ever considered was possible. So if you’re feeling like an imposter, it’s because you’re doing great things.

Let imposter syndrome be a sign that everything you’re doing is working.

It’s normal that you doubt yourself as you achieve your goals. You’re breaking into new territory. And the human brain doesn’t like that.

In fact, the human brain is designed to consider change a dangerous thing. It doesn’t like what’s not predictable. It feeds you doubt so you’ll slow down or “sabotage” your own success.

Believe it or not, that’s what your brain is designed to do. Your job is to notice the instinct as normal, and not act out on it.

Let imposter syndrome be a sign that your brain is working perfectly.

When you normalize imposter syndrome, you make it less of a problem.


Imposter syndrome will encourage you to downplay your accomplishments and not take full credit for them. You’ll want to tell yourself (and maybe others) that it’s not a big deal. You couldn’t have got there without someone else. Or that you’re lucky and it was a fluke.

You don’t let yourself be the hero of your story.

I want to offer that you change the entire structure of the story and flip it on its head.

Instead of making your accomplishment the start of the story, make it the happy ending of the story.

Grab your journal (or a notebook) and write down all the things you, as the hero, did to create the happy ending. Add to the list as you think of new things. And read the list whenever you doubt yourself.

Don’t worry. Making a list like this won’t make you arrogant. It gets your mind realigned with heroic things you’re already accomplishing every day (and plan to accomplish in the future).


As I said, part of the reason your brain is feeding you doubt is you haven’t fully accepted the identity of who you are today.

Maybe you’re already the Director or VP or C-Suite exec of your department, but you haven’t accepted that as your identity. Or maybe these are roles you aspire to.

Whether you’re already there or not, practice accepting that identity now.

Practice actually saying “I am the [title]” whether you already have that title or not. Say it out loud. Create a vision for how you do things at that level. How do you communicate? Manage your time? Make decisions? Lead people? All the things.

And then start practicing acting that way now.

I practice telling myself I’m the CEO of a 7-figure executive coaching company. Every time I’m making a decision, or doing anything in my business, I’ll ask myself what the CEO version of me do.

The more you practice accepting your identity, the less your brain will fight it.


It’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world. But rather than trying to stop it, you can use it for good.


I have 20+ years working as a leader in the corporate world. I know what you need to do. And I combine that with four years of training as a cognitive behavioral coach. I know how to help you naturally think like the leader you want to be.

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