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6 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Imposter Syndrome - the feeling of being unqualified or inexperienced in a professional role - is felt by most in their careers. This feeling can be intensified for minorities in corporate workplaces due to microaggressions from colleagues at work.

I experienced this first hand after receiving a well-deserved promotion over two of my White coworkers.

Overall, I was the best candidate for the position. I helped grow the top accounts at the company, I consistently built out processes to improve onboarding for clients and new hires, and I was looked at as a leader for my team across the company.

After the news of my promotion was shared, my coworkers expressed their disapproval of the decision, by saying "I was lucky to have been promoted" and that my advancement probably "looked better for the company." Before I had time to celebrate, my confidence dwindled and I felt unsure of myself and my most recent accomplishment.

Working in a predominately White industry, as a Black Women, this was not my first experience of imposter syndrome. I knew I would continue to face similar reactions that would cause me to question my abilities. To help combat feeling like an imposter and moments of self-doubt at work, I developed ways to focus on my achievements and reject hostile or negative comments.

Read on for six ways to help overcome imposter syndrome or self-doubt at work.

1. Create a 'Feat File' full of your achievements to remind you how accomplished you are.

I overcame my insecurities by revisiting my accomplishment that I keep in a 'feat-file' on my laptop.

A "feat file" can include anything you need to remind yourself that you are talented, you work hard, and didn't get to where you are by luck. This can be a simple note in your phone with positive reminders about yourself or professional success, photos from significant networking events or conferences you've attended, or a collection of positive feedback or accolades from your company and colleagues.

The next time you are second-guessing your achievements or thinking, "Why me?" stop yourself and pull up (or create) your 'feat-file' to celebrate all that you have accomplished.

2. Accept That You Deserve It All (and More)

As a Black woman in a predominantly White industry, I have to work twice as hard to get ahead. It's taken me a while to feel proud of all of my work hard, but now I celebrate my wins (big or small).

Accepting that I deserve to exist and succeed in this industry, that I deserve all of the jobs and promotions that I land, and that I deserve to continue to climb up the ranks helped me be more sure of myself and accomplishments.

Accept that you deserve to exist and succeed in an "exclusive" industry, that you deserve all of the jobs and promotions that you land, and that you deserve to continue to climb the ranks.

Accepting that I deserve all that I accomplished and more has helped me to have more confidence in myself at work and my accomplishments.

3. Go Where You Are Celebrated

Let those who believe in you, drown out the voices of those who don't. This will be important as you try to avoid letting your insecurities make you doubt your success.

Surround yourself with people who celebrate your accomplishments and encourage you to learn and reach your full potential.

4. Look Outside of Your Office for Support

If your office does not offer the encouragement or camaraderie you need, check out business communities like ColorCOMM, SheRunsIt, and AdColor.

Creating an outside support network allows a new perspective and you to drop your defenses altogether by knowing your conversations will not get back to anyone in the office.

5. Accept that Failure is Part of the Process and Use it as a Learning Opportunity

Three months before getting my promotion, I got denied for the same position. I talked to HR and the hiring manager and asked for feedback. I worked hard to make sure the next time the opportunity presented itself again, I was ready.

Mistakes and missteps are not the ends of the world, and failing does not make you imposter. Turn the failure into a learning opportunity - sometimes, it is more valuable than a win.

6. Learn the Difference Between Constructive and Destructive Criticism

Be thoughtful about criticism received by considering who is offering the criticism and what the criticism is stemming from. Personal biases and insecurities can come in the form of destructive criticism and can negatively impact your self-confidence. If a piece of criticism seems malicious, far-fetched, or vengeful, ask for a second opinion from a trusted source.

Being able to manage imposter syndrome will help you reach your full potential and understand your self-worth.

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