How to Overcome ‘Impostor Syndrome’

Imposter Syndrome

On March 12, 2023, I sat down to watch the Oscars and make a list of all the great movies I hadn’t seen yet. One particular movie intrigued me, Everything Everywhere All at Once. It received eleven nominations. Daniel Kwan, and his co-writer, Daniel Scheinert, won Best Original Screenplay. When Kwan stepped to the microphone, this is what he said, “My imposter syndrome has never been so high.” What? He just won an Oscar. And in just a few minutes, the two Daniels would win best director. Then a short time after that, they took the top prize, Best Picture. How could there be any imposter syndrome?

Well, that’s the thing about it; the accolades might be there, but it feels like a wave of self-doubt flowing over you. You feel like a fraud. You start to devalue your work and your worth.

Even the most successful people in their field often feel this way.

Tina Fey: “Oh God, they’re onto me! I’m a fraud!’” 

Maya Angelou: “They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody.” 

Michelle Obama: As a young woman, she’d lie awake at night asking herself: “Am I too loud? Too much? Dreaming too big?”

So how can you beat it?

  1. Recognize you are not alone. It is a true phenomenon. It is more than just a feeling.
  2. Recognize and celebrate your successes. Validate your hard work. Own your accomplishments.
  3. Recognize and celebrate your failures. Don’t be overly critical. Mistakes are normal and a valuable part of learning.
  4. Recognize that you don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes the best response to a question is, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
  5. Take action to move forward – NOW. Continue to grow. Continue to learn. And continue to have faith in yourself. Visualize success.

Success does not make you a fraud, just like failure doesn’t make you worthless. Ups and downs are a part of life’s experience. Keep working hard so when the good times roll, you can tell yourself I got this: I earned this.

Phillip J Martin

Exploring the Power of People

You succeed by choice, not chance.
Every decision you make shapes your future

Phil is a published playwright and song writer and an award-winning television writer for the Nashville Now show on TNN. He has spent 30 years as a college professor, most recently in the Department of Theatre Arts at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has presented at colleges, universities, conventions and symposiums across the country. In addition to writing 13 musicals, Phil has written two books: Play Hard-Have Fun: A Philosophy for Life and the soon-to-be completed Take the Stage: Leadership Lesson from Theatre. Phil believes that achieving personal and professional success requires the challenge of creative and innovative thinking, that you succeed by choice, not chance.

Contact and Booking Information