I’m An Impostor!

Kylie Quetell HR (& Life!) Advice, Kylie Quetell

This one is going to feel like a therapy session. You’ve been warned. Read it anyway, because if you are successful professionally, you have probably fallen victim to the same affliction that 70% of us have – Impostor Syndrome. It sucks the success right out of us, robs us of our confidence, and tells us that we don’t deserve everything that we worked our asses off for.

Ximena Vengoechea wrote an awesome article for The Muse, and did a really nice job of defining this, by stating that Impostor Syndrome occurs when:

We feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen.

Impostor Syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.

My Impostor Syndrome sounds a little bit like this:

  • I was promoted because I made a lot of personal connections
  • I was hired because of very good timing
  • They hired me because my resume looked good – I’m not really that capable
  • I must have tricked them into letting me through the door
  • Life is too good, sooner or later someone will pull the rug out from underneath me
  • I need to start my sentences with “I think” or “I feel” instead of stating facts with confidence
  • I’ve surpassed my personal goals, there is nothing left for me to accomplish, I’m not capable of more
  • I can’t allow anyone to be better than me. Ever. At anything.

My Impostor Syndrome robs me. It robs me of confidence. It robs me of choice. It robs me of energy. It robs me of grabbing life by the ovaries and going to get what I want.

My Impostor Syndrome gives me gifts, the kind I don’t want. It gives me the gift of complacency. It gives me the gift of keeping my mouth shut. It gives me the gift of a glass ceiling.

My Impostor Syndrome makes me think. And think. And think. There must be something bad that is going to happen, let me make a list of all the things that could go wrong. I’m likely going to lose my job soon, let me look at my bank accounts right now to make sure I’ll be safe. I scored really well on this 360, I must be really good at hiding all of my faults.

Impostor Syndrome, you will not defeat me. I belong here.

What are some things that you can do to fight away your Impostor Syndrome? Well, now, that’s up to you, but you could try my best practices to defeat it:

  • Share your thoughts with a trusted party who knows your story. I am lucky enough to have a supporting wife who actually helped me name my emotions – she introduced me to the concept of Impostor Syndrome. She also reminded me how hard I worked for all of this success.
  • Give yourself visual cues. A wonderful keynote speaker named Judi Holler gave me a sticker that now sits eye level on the door to my office. Everyone who exits the room has to look at it. It says, “Trust your dopeness.” It works.
  • Physically write out your encouragement. If I’m ever sitting in a meeting and my Impostor Syndrome rears its ugly head, I write myself a note on the top of my notebook. I write, “You belong here.”
  • Do a little self-talk. When I’ve got a big presentation or important meeting, I look myself in the mirror before I leave the house. I practice my power-pose and my introduction. “Hello, I’m Kylie Quetell,” I say it over and over with a smile until I’m proud of the person staring at back at me.
  • Write something, maybe a blog or a report without being asked. You might actually find that you are a little bit smarter than you remember. If you’re like me, you haven’t been formally assessed on your knowledge or graded on an essay since college. That was a decade ago. I hope I’m smarter now than I was a decade ago!

I’m not saying it’s easy to beat your Impostor Syndrome. I have not yet found a way to shut it out of my mind forever. It still pops up every now and again. However, I am certain that you deserve your success. Whatever it is. You worked your ass off for this. You know how I know? Because you are reading this article. You are reading an article, which means you are hungry for knowledge and making yourself better. Don’t stop.

Kylie Quetell
Kylie Quetell is an Organizational Development professional, focusing on people, strategy, and process (notice that "people" is listed first). She is a Vice President and a phenomenal public speaker, coach, and leader. She holds a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and certifications in Leadership Development and Change Management. Kylie was formally a national champion rugby player, and has coached high school and women's club sports. She has also volunteered her time working with Veterans and for environmental causes. A Maine native, Kylie brings a love for salty language to her current home in Metro Detroit where she lives with her wife, dog, and cat.