Leadership

So You Have Impostor Syndrome? Here’s How To Handle It

Some of the world’s most successful women suffer from crippling self-doubt. Here are the coping strategies they employ to turn their inner critic into an asset.

By Natalie Cornish

Leadership

Some of the world’s most successful women suffer from crippling self-doubt. Here are the coping strategies they employ to turn their inner critic into an asset.

By Natalie Cornish

If you’ve ever felt like a fraud at work, you’re not alone. A British study recently revealed one in five entrepreneurs and small business owners suffer from Impostor Syndrome – a debilitating pattern of thoughts causing sufferers to constantly question their accomplishments and believe they will soon be ousted for being underqualified. Even women at the top of their game, including Maya Angelou, Emma Watson, Serena Williams and presenter-turned-fashion-designer Alexa Chung, have admitted doubting their abilities or feeling out of their depth.

“It’s not exclusive to fashion, I’ve felt it with everything I’ve done,” Chung told the BBC on the eve of her first London Fashion Week collection last month. “Writing for Vogue, that’s a huge Impostor Syndrome. Television, every day before we went live, I’d be like, ‘Am I equipped to do this? I don’t know’.” Angelou won the Pulitzer Prize, but that wasn’t enough to stop her feeling like a literary fraud. “I have written 11 books but each time I would think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now’,” she once said. “‘I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out’.” For Watson, her growing success on screen brought increased feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, while Williams says she attempted to emulate her sister, Venus, early on in her career to cope with constant confidence niggles.

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