The Imposter Syndrome


A few years back I was lucky enough to get to attend the Alberta Women Entrepreneurs¬† annual conference. Over the three days I met a lot of interesting women. I had the opportunity to listen to, and meet some great speakers . One of the speakers I enjoyed most was a woman named Dr. Valerie Young, who spoke about the “Imposter Syndrome.”¬†The subject of her talk and her life’s work was an idea that would set me free to take greater risks, to speak my mind and to trust that I am very smart and talented, despite what I might sometimes tell myself.

Dr. Young spoke about having interviewed hundreds (maybe more) people over the course of her research. She recounted stories of CEOs who would surreptitiously confide that they thought the person who had hired them had confused them with someone else. She met prestigious scholarship winners who thought a mistake had been made during the selection process and they were waiting to be found out. Astronauts claimed they only made it on the mission because of someone else’s illness. She recounted many examples of very talented and intelligent people who felt they didn’t measure up to what others perceived them to be.

Hearing her speak was a huge “Aha” moment for me. How could I not have realized this sooner? We can all doubt ourselves, the danger is in giving this doubt too much value. The danger is in believing that voice that says you are not smart enough, talented enough, or deserving enough to succeed and get the things you want. These days when I experience self doubt, I remember Dr. Young’s talk, I label the feeling (imposter syndrome), I smile, and I move on. The quotes accompanying this blog came from the website of Dr.Valerie Young and illustrate the syndrome perfectly. So the next time you are doubting yourself, know that everyone else is doing the same, recognize those doubts for what the really are, and move on.