What gives me the right to be here?

7 Apr 2024
Starting my employability career almost 30 years ago, I progressed up the ranks, moving companies, building my skills and experience. My job has seen me manage teams, gain professional qualifications, and even move continents. Yet still, as I prepare to meet a government minister or present to a room full of colleagues, I think ‘Why should anyone listen to me?’ ‘What gives me the right to be here?’

What I always remember at those confidence-crunching moments is that I’m not alone. Imposter syndrome is a frustrating and common affliction, with an estimated 70% of the population experiencing that nonsensical dread of ‘being found out’ at some point in their lives. 

I notice that my inner critic is also likely to strike at times when I’m trying new things or pushing my boundaries. Both of which I like to do! 

Most of us can probably identify with those feelings of not being good enough. Take strength from the fact that, bizarrely, imposter syndrome often shouts loudest when we’re doing something good.

While imposter syndrome isn’t an official psychiatric condition, it is an unpleasant, nagging, and unnecessary doubt which can be associated with anxiety, depression, and burnout. 

Overcoming imposter syndrome doesn’t involve working harder or endlessly achieving more. At times, irritatingly, doing well at something only feeds our inner imposter. Instead, psychologists suggest retraining the way we think to build self-worth and an acceptance of our own abilities. There are many online tools, techniques and worksheets to help with this, along with my five favourite top tips:  

Recognise your wins
We are much better at recalling what went wrong than what went well so create reminders and let the facts speak for themselves. Read your reminders regularly and before any new challenge to prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes.

Talk to someone 
Feelings of isolation, embarrassment and somehow admitting to your duplicity can make imposter syndrome difficult to discuss but, as with most things in life, sharing your feelings can help. Friends, family, and peers may well have similar experiences to share and there’s lots of free resources online too. 

Quit comparing
Focus on your own achievements, not other people’s – especially if you’re seeing them from celebratory posts on social media. Taking a snapshot of someone else’s life, be it online, in an office, or a social situation isn’t a measure of them – or importantly, you.

Expect to make mistakes 
Mistakes help us learn, especially at the start of a new experience. Welcome constructive criticism and listen to the people you value. Unrealistic goals are destined to fail so focus on prioritising achievable wins.

Own it
This is one of our Ingeus values and perfectly captures three final important points. Assertive body language can help change your mindset. Just sitting up straight can help me feel more energised! 
Take a moment to be mindful, do a breathing exercise, or move around in the working day and take genuine time off to relax and unwind. 
Then push on and be excited by new challenges!

So, as I head to my meeting or presentation, I remember that luck plays only a minor role in success. As a female Board director and straight-talking Aussie, I hold on to the logic that actual frauds don’t have imposter syndrome. The very fact that you have it shows that you’re not an imposter – just like me.

Recommended Articles