Putting on your mask: understanding imposter syndrome

In the past six months, I have not only coached but also spoken in depth to some incredibly successful people to try and get an insight into what makes them tick who they are. They have included business owners, CEOs, partners, directors, business consultants, bankers, investors, doctors, content creators and a host of young entrepreneurs.


What struck me is that they all said in their professional journey to date they had all suffered at some stage from one thing – and that thing was imposter syndrome.

So what is imposter syndrome you may ask?

Understanding imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome refers to the persistent feeling of being inadequate or fraudulent, despite external evidence of competence and accomplishments. Men often face societal pressures to appear strong, confident, and invulnerable, making it challenging to openly discuss their feelings of self-doubt. However, it is crucial to recognise that imposter syndrome affects men across all professional domains and can impede personal growth and career advancement.

Identifying imposter syndrome

Recognising the signs of imposter syndrome is the first step toward overcoming it. Men experiencing imposter syndrome may exhibit behaviours such as:

  • Overworking: the constant need to prove oneself can lead to an excessive workload, which only perpetuates the cycle of self-doubt.
  • Downplaying achievements: dismissing accomplishments as luck or timing rather than acknowledging personal competence.
  • Fear of failure: avoiding new challenges or opportunities due to the fear of being exposed as an imposter. (I know for a fact I have fallen into this category. When I changed careers, I constantly felt this, "What would people think of my career change?" "Why would anyone believe me?"          "What does he know about coaching men?" I heard all of those voices.
  • Comparison trap: constantly comparing oneself to others and feeling inadequate in comparison. (Yup, guilty.)

Overcoming imposter syndrome

  • Embrace vulnerability: it takes strength to acknowledge and share feelings of self-doubt. Find trusted individuals or support networks where you can openly discuss your concerns and fears.
  • Challenge negative self-talk: identify and challenge the self-defeating thoughts that contribute to imposter syndrome. Replace them with positive affirmations and focus on your strengths and achievements.
  • Internalise your successes: keep a record of your accomplishments, skills, and positive feedback from colleagues and superiors. Reflecting on these achievements can help reframe negative thoughts and build self-confidence.
  • Seek mentorship,lLife coaches and guidance: reach out to coaches or trusted individuals who have experienced similar challenges. Their guidance and advice can provide valuable insights and help you navigate through imposter syndrome.
  • Embrace continuous learning: imposter syndrome often arises from a fear of being exposed as lacking knowledge or skills. Invest in personal and professional development, acquire new skills, and stay updated in your field. The more knowledgeable you become, the more confidence you'll gain.
  • Celebrate small victories: Shift your focus from perfectionism to progress. Acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments along the way. Remember, growth is a journey, and each step forward is worth celebrating.
  • Reframe failure as a stepping stone to growth: instead of viewing failure as a reflection of your abilities, see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace a growth mindset, understanding that setbacks are part of the journey toward success. Extract lessons from each experience and use them to fuel your personal and professional development.

Imposter syndrome can significantly hinder personal and professional growth, affecting individuals regardless of gender. By understanding what imposter syndrome is, identifying its signs, and implementing these tips and techniques, we can overcome self-doubt, and embrace our authentic selves, and unlock our full potential. Remember, you are not alone in this journey.

Let me know your thoughts and comments. Have I left anything out?

If any of this resonates with you and you feel you are in this position reach out and get in touch for a free discovery call.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Dorking RH4 & London SE1
Written by Shawn Nell
Dorking RH4 & London SE1

My name is Shawn Nell
I work with men who are unsatisfied with their life and ready to live a more purposeful and fulfilling life. Those who feel disconnected and have lost a sense of identity. Whether it's your career, your life or your relationship, I will help you remove or overcome beliefs and patterns that have held you back for years.

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