How to overcome imposter syndrome and be brilliant

By Jeannette Linfoot, above

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a psychological phenomenon that affects an astonishing majority of people in the business world. While everyone experiences imposter syndrome slightly differently, common characteristics include self-doubt in your skills and competence, crediting external factors—like luck—for your success, decreased self-confidence, and perfectionism.

A study by online business platform, Kajabi, revealed a staggering 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners feel like an imposter at moderate, frequent, or intense levels. The Coronavirus pandemic also caused a rise in the issue, with 47% of knowledge workers worldwide reporting feelings of imposter syndrome increasing in 2020.

This creeping sense of self-doubt and feeling like a fraud in your own achievements can not only impact your business performance but also your wellbeing, and it’s crucial to tackle the issue head on.

Here are some ways you can reduce the feelings of imposter syndrome before they truly take hold.

Identify the root causes of your imposter syndrome

To overcome feeling like an imposter you need to start by addressing the root cause of why this issue exists in the first place. For example, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of imposter syndrome when you have launched a new business or started a new role, particularly in a leadership position.

It may help to start tracking and noting down whenever you’re experiencing self-doubt or inadequacy at work. This will allow you to dig into why you’re feeling this way and to rationalise your thoughts.

Share how you’re feeling

Accepting and discussing your negative feelings as they come up is one of the best ways of dealing with imposter syndrome. However, according to a study conducted by All-in Diversity Project, of people who had experienced feelings of imposter syndrome, 77% stated their workplace doesn’t discuss the issue.

By talking about your feelings of imposter syndrome, instead of internalising the emotions, you can recognise them and move on. When you keep your feelings of imposter syndrome a secret, they grow bigger and harder to deal with.

If you open up to a fellow business leader, entrepreneur or even mentor, you are likely to find that the person you open up to has also experienced imposter syndrome and this will help you recognise you aren’t so alone in the way you’re feeling.

Reframe your thoughts

There is a famous saying from Confucius: “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right”. It shows that how we frame our mindset will very often affect the outcome.

Our thoughts hold so much power, and the way we approach the world has the ability to shape our reality in both positive and negative ways. Therefore, if you often suffer from negative thoughts, start monitoring your mental voice and recognising your thought patterns, modifying them where possible.

While this technique won’t have immediate results, overtime it can help you approach situations in a more positive light. By reframing your mental language, you’re rewiring your brain to be more supportive and not allowing imposter syndrome in.

Take tenacious action

One of the best ways to overcome imposter syndrome is to take action. Do something every day that is going to move you one step closer to your dreams and your vision. Once you get going and start seeing results, your self-belief increases and feelings of imposter syndrome become less.

Release yourself from perfection

Perfectionism – the tendency to hold yourself and your work to such a high standard that it must be perfect – and imposter syndrome tend to go hand-in-hand, as both are closely tied to fear of failure or fear of making mistakes.

While this could be seen as a positive quality, it can hold you back and inhibit you from ever completing projects, significantly increasing feelings of self-doubt when work is not ‘perfect’ all the time. This can ultimately undermine your self-confidence and over time turn into crippling imposter syndrome.

While it’s good to set high standards for both yourself and your work, you could be putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. Break your goals down into realistic and achievable steps for a healthier, more balanced, and ultimately more productive approach to your work.

Envision your own success

Recognising and reflecting on your previous accomplishments can really help boost your confidence and quieten thoughts of imposter syndrome. Think about some of your recent achievements and how far you have come since starting your business or role. This will put you into a more positive mindset, helping you to envision yourself as being successful and allowing you to trust your own abilities.


As an entrepreneur, you may find that imposter syndrome sometimes feels overwhelming or even paralysing. Know that you are not alone in feeling this way, and that imposter syndrome affects so many people in the business realm.

By visualising your success, being kind to yourself, and reminding yourself that you are great at what you do, you can transform your mentality over time so you can reach your full potential, achieve anything you put your mind to and be brave, bold and brilliant.