can you read imposter syndrome as a good sign?

yeah, that is a controversial title, but now that i got your attention let me explain.

i’m not saying it’s a good THING, but the act of questioning yourself can be a good SIGN. think with me for a second: people who are really portraying someone they’re not AREN’T concerned with whether they’re capable enough, smart enough, or even deserving of being in that position. they just think they are.

so, yes, you should always question yourself and push yourself to strive for greatness, learn more, and rise to the occasion. what you can’t do is let the act of questioning yourself rule your life: that’s when imposter syndrome comes to play its negative role.

the dark side of imposter syndrome – especially in women

according to the international journal of behavioral science, MORE THAN 70% OF PEOPLE are affected by impostor thoughts in the workplace at some point in their lives.

we struggle to recognize our own merit, constantly doubt our abilities, and question how we got to where we are. then the negative thoughts begin to pop in our heads all the time.

let me tell you a secret: so-and-so probably thinks YOU are better than them. it’s incredibly rare to find someone, especially a woman, who is trying to make it (or has already made it) that doesn’t wrestle daily with imposter syndrome. due to the lack of female role models in leadership positions over time, prejudice, and stereotypes in the workplace, when these women achieve leadership roles, they often feel like pioneers and start to doubt their abilities. if you’re a woman entrepreneur, it’s almost as if we’re programmed with it.

it’s no wonder that the more success we achieve, the greater the doubt about whether we are truly good enough. this leads to a cycle of self-sabotage, where many women, lacking confidence, end up believing they don’t deserve their position. the tendency is to give up or not even try, and when it comes to an entrepreneur, the syndrome can negatively impact their ability to lead and make important decisions for their business.

how you can turn your imposter syndrome into a strength and overcome it

don’t get me wrong, the feeling of living with imposter syndrome still sucks even if you try to twist it to your favor. but if you already live with it, it’s better than the alternative: being stuck for fear of not being enough.

let me tell you a story of a 20-something entrepreneur named sarah willingham that had a life-changing moment in this area. she was a successful woman with a high position at her company and ran a little late to get to an important meeting. when she walked in the room, all of the lawyers were already there. one of them asked for a coffee as soon as he saw her, mistaking sarah for a servant.

she decided to not let that get to her. sarah asked if people wanted something else, got a coffee for him and one for her. then she simply sat down in front of the lawyer and started the meeting. and she got out of that room with a good deal and a smile on her face. because even if he thought she wasn’t the person to deal with that account – and even if she didn’t believe it too – she was and she did a good job.

according to recent findings by researcher BASIMA TEWFIK, an assistant professor of work and organization studies at the MIT – massachusetts institute of technology – in the USA, the behaviors that ‘impostors’ exhibit in an attempt to compensate for their insecurities may actually make them good at what they do.

the first step is to acknowledge the problem. often, we avoid thinking about this and pretend it doesn’t affect us, which just delays the healing process. it’s important to understand your own feelings and reflect on why these self-sabotaging thoughts are emerging and where they come from. only then can you use these thoughts for your own good.

when you don’t let it paralyze you, it can push you forward.

the feeling of always wanting to be better, do better, become more efficient, and even more prepared can act as a catalyst for your career. because you push yourself to do the work and actually grow as a person and as a worker.

when you step out of your comfort zone (because you’re not really comfortable there), it opens you up for new experiences, learnings, and a better version of yourself. so let your doubt be a way of improving, not stopping.

it’s not always easy – if it was, we wouldn’t be here talking about it, right? so there’s time to push through it, like we explored in this post. but there are also times to cope with it, that’s what our next post will be all about.