How to Recognise and Rise Above Imposter Syndrome

The nagging feeling of self-doubt, the paralysing fear of being exposed as a fraud, the persistent worry that your achievements are nothing but a stroke of luck. If these feelings resonate with you, you are not alone. Imposter Syndrome affects people from all walks of life, from fresh graduates to seasoned and celebrated professionals. The good news is you can overcome it. 

Recognising Imposter Syndrome in Yourself

Before taking the necessary steps to boost your self-confidence, it is vital to understand and recognise how Imposter Syndrome may manifest within you. Here are some signs that may indicate you are struggling with it: 

  • Perfectionism: The relentless pursuit of flawlessness. While striving for excellence is admirable, setting unattainable standards can lead to self-doubt.
  • Persistent Self-Doubt: You may doubt your abilities, second-guess your decisions, or feel like a fraud. 
  • Undermining Achievements: You believe your accomplishments are due to luck, not competence. You attribute your success to external factors rather than your abilities. 
  • Avoidance of Challenges: If you consistently shy away from new responsibilities or challenging tasks, it could be because of a fear of failure. This fear can prevent you from taking risks or stepping outside your comfort zone.
  • Overworking: You may work harder and longer to prove your worth or compensate for perceived shortcomings. This often stems from a fear of being exposed.
  • Difficulty Accepting Praise: You might struggle to accept compliments or downplay your achievements. 
  • Comparing Yourself to Others: Constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling inferior. You overlook your unique strengths and focus on perceived weaknesses.

Steps to Take to Rise Above Imposter Syndrome

If not properly managed, the behaviour above can be a roadblock to your success. Here are some practical steps to help you clear the path and conquer Imposter Syndrome: 

  • Self-Reflection and Acknowledgement: Take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments and recognise your skills. Create a list of your achievements and revisit it regularly to boost your confidence.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Avoid setting unattainable standards for yourself. Establish realistic, achievable goals and celebrate your successes along the way. 
  • Foster a Growth Mindset: Shift your focus from a fixed mindset, where you believe abilities are static, to a growth mindset, where you embrace challenges as opportunities for development.
  • Embrace Mistakes: Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of growth and learning. Instead of fearing them, see them as opportunities for improvement.
  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: When self-doubt creeps in, challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself for evidence to support these beliefs and consider more positive alternatives.
  • Track Your Achievements: Keep a journal and record your accomplishments and the positive feedback you receive. This tangible record can serve as a confidence booster.
  • Celebrate Your Wins: Don’t forget to celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledging your successes reinforces your confidence.

Imposter Syndrome does not have to define your journey. You can rise above it and be more self-assured. Remember, you are more capable than you sometimes believe. Embrace your achievements and your potential for growth, and step confidently into your future.

Are you struggling with Imposter Syndrome? 

Sharing your experience with someone you trust can provide valuable perspective and support. At Awakening Excellence, our certified coaches can help you transform your mindset and behaviour for your benefit and also for those you lead. Connect with us.  

Navigating Imposter Syndrome in the Boardroom

We often see the success stories, the confident strides, and the unshakeable leadership of top executives locally and abroad. We admire them for steering their organisations through turbulent waters with unwavering resolve. But what might surprise you is that beneath those powerful boardroom personas, many accomplished leaders have experienced a phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome.

You have probably heard of it, or perhaps, even found yourself grappling with it— that nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, you are not as capable as people think.

The fascinating truth is that Imposter Syndrome does not discriminate based on experience; it can haunt beginners and seasoned experts.

So, what triggers this all-too-common experience? Basically, Imposter Syndrome occurs when the pressure to perform at an exceptional level, coupled with the fear of being unmasked as less competent than we appear, leads to a relentless inner battle.

The Impact on Leadership Abilities

What we need to understand about Imposter Syndrome is that it is not just a personal struggle. It can have a ripple effect on our leadership abilities. It breeds hesitancy in decision-making, makes us shy away from taking calculated risks, and keeps us in a perpetual loop of second-guessing ourselves. This self-doubt filters down to our teams, affecting their performance and growth. As leaders, we set the tone. That tone needs to be one of confidence.

Becoming a More Confident Leader

On a personal level, as leaders, we must confront our own Imposter Syndrome. This involves recognising that self-doubt is a common human experience which does not define our worth or competence. Self-awareness is a powerful tool in this regard. When we can identify and acknowledge our insecurities, we are in a position to overcome them. Self-compassion plays a crucial role as well. It is okay to be imperfect, to make mistakes, and to seek help when needed. Remember, confidence doesn’t mean you have all the answers; it means you dare to keep learning and growing.

Strategies for Building a Confident Leadership Team

There are ways to ensure that our boardrooms are filled with confident leaders who can guide their teams effectively. It begins with cultivating a supportive workplace culture. We need to establish mentorship programmes that connect top-tier executives with experienced leaders who can offer guidance and wisdom. Organisations should also seek to develop specialised training programmes designed to address the unique challenges that high-ranking executives face. We must have robust support systems in place so leaders feel empowered to seek help.

Ultimately, Imposter Syndrome is a shared human experience that does not have to hold you back. It can be a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery. As a leader (or one in the making), you have the power to shape your organisation, and with a confident, self-aware approach, you can promote a culture of success.

So, embrace your role with confidence. You deserve to be where you are, and you can inspire those around you and lead your team to great heights. Stay confident, lead with purpose, and always remember that you’re even more capable than you sometimes believe.

Imposter Syndrome’s Silver Lining: Turning Self-Doubt into Motivation

Imposter Syndrome is something many professionals battle with. It casts a shadow of self-doubt, making us question our abilities and achievements. But believe it or not, within Imposter Syndrome lies a hidden strength, a silver lining. Did you know that by shifting your perspective, you can turn self-doubt into a powerful motivator that drives you toward excellence?

Enter neuroplasticity, the brain’s incredible capacity to rewire itself. It plays a pivotal role in this transformation. Scientific research has shown that our brains can adapt and change based on our thoughts, experiences, and beliefs. Understanding neuroplasticity can help us rewire our minds, leverage Imposter Syndrome to our advantage, and develop a growth mindset.

A notable book by Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in motivation and mindset, focuses on the concept of a “growth mindset”. Dweck’s book explains how individuals with a growth mindset view challenges and failures as opportunities for learning and growth. They don’t consider their abilities as static. Instead, they believe in their potential to develop skills and talents over time. Adopting this mindset can be the key to turning self-doubt into something that can work for you rather than against you.

3 ways to turn self-doubt into a driver for excellence

1. Embrace the Challenge: Instead of retreating from opportunities, embrace them. Use doubt as a catalyst to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. With a growth mindset, every challenge becomes an avenue for personal and professional development.

2. Seek Feedback and Learn: Embrace feedback as a valuable source of information. Use it to pinpoint areas where you can improve, thereby transforming your self-doubt into fuel for progress.

3. Develop Resilience: Imposter Syndrome can make you vulnerable to stress and anxiety. However, when viewed from the right perspective, it becomes an opportunity to develop resilience and mental strength. Learn to bounce back from setbacks and use self-doubt as motivation for continuous improvement.

Imposter Syndrome is not an insurmountable obstacle but rather a challenge that can help you excel. By shifting your perspective, using the power of neuroplasticity, and adopting a growth mindset, you can rewire your mind to see self-doubt as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.

As you do this, remember the words of Dr. Carol Dweck: “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” Choose to adopt a growth mindset, and you will discover that self-doubt is the silver lining that can light your path to your greatest achievements.


Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.