The piece discussed my challenges with impostor syndrome – regardless of the number of stretch projects and accolades I received in the workplace, I constantly feared being exposed as a “fraud.”
Much has changed since this piece was published – I’ve published a book and been featured in The New York Times, but I’ve also gone through a separation and have been more vocal about my battle with anxiety.
More often than not, I’ve felt confused, distracted, self-sabotaged, and lost.
To be quite honest, I’m still trying to find a permanent way to remind myself that I belong, and am successful.
It does help to reflect on accomplishments, but I struggle with accepting the praise of colleagues and friends.
That digs a bit into my anxiety and issues with self-love, which I am working on both personally and professionally with a therapist.
I’m a product and marketing executive from Silicon Valley startups and larger companies like Groupon and Life360.
I’ve contributed tens of millions of dollars in revenue through my work, led 100+ person teams to launch successful new product lines and hold five patents.
My life changed when I realized that owning up to my imposter-syndrome made me powerful, not weak. Finally, instead of resigning myself to feeling anxious, I could do something about it.
I had never built software before, and here I was being asked to ship cutting-edge software for a public company in record time. I certainly felt like an imposter, and I could feel the pressure of deadlines breathing down my neck.
My motto became “Fake it ’til you make it.”
One day a friend asked me how I landed my product manager job. I told him I was merely faking it, and he introduced me to imposter-syndrome.
At first, I thought, “That’s not me. I don’t have any syndrome.” It sounded like a bad disease, something I didn’t want any part of.
Once I read about it though, I realized how true it rang. That provided some relief in and of itself because I knew I could do something about it.
I realized how much needless anxiety I was going through. I started working with a coach and learned to rewrite my mental programming.
I had imposter syndrome when I first became a deputy headteacher; I used to think due to my age and relative lack of experience that I would get found out.
I had this recurring dream where I was delivering the assembly to 2000 students and staff, and I would get booed then my headteacher would tell me that there was a mistake and I had to leave.
I worked through the imposter syndrome with my coach and mentor who I had through part of a leadership development program I was on; she made me realise that I was there by my merit and helped me identify what I could do to feel good about myself and the role.
This was a game-changer for me.
I also: – Focused on what I had achieved – Asked for feedback from my headteacher and others – Read my appraisal and 360-degree feedback when I doubted myself – Spoke to other peers about it (and realised I wasn’t alone)
When I was in my 20’s, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of an organization after my boss, the previous COO, was let go.
Twenty years my senior, my predecessor had degrees and certifications that I didn’t have, and yet there I sat, in what used to be his seat at the table.
I had to figure out, in real-time, how to command the room from the head of the table while my (former) peers, now subordinates, most of whom were senior to me in age and tenure at the organization, watched.
I felt like a fraud- like a child at play on a stage where the audience is there to laugh and be entertained.
About the time that I settled into the role, our CEO resigned, and I found myself elected by the board as the Interim CEO.
Again, I could not believe that I had been moved into this position on my own merit.
Rather, I made up reasons all my own: “They must have asked the guys (my peers in the C-suite), but they said ‘no’, so they came to me…” or “They must think I’m not as busy as everyone else, so they gave this role to me.”
In time, I came to see the skills that I brought to the table that others didn’t, but it took the practical experience for me to get there.
Now, I counsel other women on how to own their unique gifts and believe in their inherent self-worth so they may step into bigger roles and compensation conversations with confidence.
I had real impostor syndrome for the first two years of my business.
And while there were probably multiple reasons why I felt that way two stand-out.
The first was that I run my business using a remote team, which while more common now was quite rare at the time.
This is resulted in me often feeling like I wasn’t running a “real” business because I didn’t have a dedicated office with centralised staff in-one location.
The second reason was more of a hangover from my previous business failure.
Around a decade ago, I ran a business that failed, which was to a large extent down to the fact I didn’t know what I was doing.
So I had a constant fear that this time around, I still didn’t know what I was doing, despite learning a huge amount in the intervening period.
Today, I’d say my impostor syndrome, which while not entirely gone, is far far less than it was.
And while I wish I could offer an easy way to overcome it, I don’t think there is one.
The main way I’ve overcome it is through successfully running the business.
Seeing the business grow each month for several years in a row has given me the confidence that while I might not know all the answers, or do things perfectly I am doing pretty well and far better than most people who never get started or who offer advice without taking the risk themselves.
I’m a YouTube vlogger and a young entrepreneur who founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line named Banish.
My business is now ranked #152nd fastest-growing company in INC 500, and I’m also included in Forbes 30 under 30.
I realized that many current skincare ingredients, such as fragrances or fillers, break out my skin, so I created my skincare products in my kitchen.
I documented my struggle on my YouTube channel, which now garners over 70M views.
We entrepreneurs tend to have impostor syndrome for we aim for perfection, and most of the time, we feel inadequate once we miss the mark or certain expectations we set for ourselves.
Recently, I had an opportunity to share my experience at a TEDx event; I am encouraging others to aim for authenticity.
I believe that I have my purpose in life and that no one can do a better job of being me than me.
Comparing yourself to other people and beating yourself for things that you haven’t accomplished yet won’t help.
Whenever I feel like I’m not good enough, I remind myself about my purpose in life and how I want my life to serve as an inspiration to many.
I find peace and joy in knowing that I’m being real to myself and others, and I do my best to accomplish my purpose in life.
When I feel like I’m not good enough, I keep on going and do what I have to do – I don’t pause and watch other people’s lives.
With comparison comes envy, discontentment and self-doubt.
It is so difficult to question someone credible and authentic.
We will all have impostor syndrome because the world continues to feed us with “perfect people” who lie for advertisements and marketing and so as I myself also experience it every other time, I just stick to my core and remind myself who I am and what I live for.