Understanding Imposter Syndrome: what, why, and how to Overcome it

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On9th October 2023
Posted On9th October 2023

Imposter syndrome is a term that’s been buzzing around a lot lately. But what is it? Why do we get it? And most importantly, how can we deal with it? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a feeling many of us face: that nagging doubt that we’re not really as good as we appear, or that we’ve fooled everyone into believing we’re more competent than we are. Even when we have plenty of evidence of our achievements, that tiny voice in our head says, “You don’t deserve this. They’ll find out soon.”

Why do we get Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter feelings can come from various reasons:

  1. Perfectionism: When we aim for 100% all the time, even a small flaw can feel like a massive failure.
  2. Upbringing: Some of us have grown up in environments where praise was rare or where there was a constant push to achieve more.
  3. New Challenges: Starting a new job, attending a new school, or entering a new social circle can ignite these feelings.

Who gets Imposter Syndrome?

Here’s a surprise: almost everyone! From students to CEOs, many people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. It doesn’t discriminate by job, gender, age, or background.

When do we get Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome can pop up at various times:

  • After achieving a new milestone like a promotion.
  • While trying something new.
  • When receiving praise or accolades.
  • Comparing ourselves to others.

How can we deal with it?

  1. Recognise it: The first step is to acknowledge it. Understand that it’s just a feeling, not a fact.
  2. Talk about it: Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or colleague can provide comfort.
  3. Document your achievements: Keep a list of your accomplishments. When doubt creeps in, you have evidence of your capabilities.

Top Tips to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

  1. Positive Affirmations: Reassure yourself with positive statements like, “I am capable” or “I deserve my success.”
  2. Stop Comparing: Everyone’s journey is different. Focus on your path, not someone else’s.
  3. Seek Feedback: Constructive feedback helps you understand areas of improvement and reaffirms what you’re doing right.

How can we Prepare for it?

Imposter syndrome can come and go. Preparing for it means building resilience and a positive self-image:

  1. Constant Learning: Equip yourself with knowledge and skills. The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel.
  2. Practice Self-compassion: Be kind to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them and move on.

Tips and Techniques for Handling Imposter Syndrome

  1. Visualisation: Imagine a scenario where you succeed. It helps in rewiring the brain.
  2. Grounding Techniques: If anxiety takes over, ground yourself by focusing on your surroundings or deep breathing.
  3. Seek Mentorship: Guidance from someone who’s been in your shoes can be invaluable.

In conclusion, imposter syndrome is something that many of us will face. But by understanding it, recognising its signs, and equipping ourselves with tools and techniques, we can navigate those feelings more efficiently. Remember, you’re not alone, and yes, you’re as competent and deserving as you appear.


At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

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