Ep 92- Leanne Shelton: Managing Imposter Syndrome

Sep 7, 2021

Ways to cope with Imposter Syndrome

If you’ve ever felt like you’re not good enough or you don’t belong – then you’ve probably been haunted by Imposter Syndrome.

It’s especially common among people who are intelligent, successful, and in a position of authority.

And yes, that often includes business owners.

Some of the common causes include: low self-esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure, lack of confidence in skills or abilities.

But the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.

In today’s episode, I’ll uncover what this ‘syndrome’ is all about. And what you can do whenever it rears its ugly head – and puts you at risk of not taking action.

Let’s jump in!


Today, I wanted to talk to you about ‘Managing Imposter Syndrome’. While I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, it’s something I personally experience on an ongoing basis.

I recently ran a talk on the topic and was reminded of just how important it is for us to acknowledge that these feelings are very real.

And normal.

Psychologists first described the syndrome in 1978. According to a 2020 review,up to 82% of people experience Impostor Syndrome at some point in their lives.

A person with Impostor Syndrome has:

  • a sense of being a fraud
  • a fear of being discovered and/or
  • difficulties internalising their success

Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, has identified five types of “impostors.”

The expert will not feel satisfied when finishing a task until they feel that they know everything about the subject. The time spent searching for information can make it hard to complete tasks and projects.

The perfectionist experiences high levels of anxiety, doubt, and worry, especially when they set themselves extreme goals that they are unable to achieve. A perfectionist will focus on areas where they could have done better rather than celebrate their achievements.

Natural geniuses master many new skills quickly and easily, and they may feel ashamed and weak when faced with a goal that is too hard. Learning that everyone needs to struggle to achieve some goals may help.

The soloist, or “rugged individualist,” prefers to work alone, fearing that asking for help will reveal incompetence. The person may turn down help in an attempt to prove their self-worth.

Superheroes often excel due to extreme effort, as in “workaholism.” This can lead to burnout, which can affect physical and mental well-being and relationships with others.

Do any of these sound familiar? 

Having a sense of self-doubt can help a person assess their achievements and ability, but too much self-doubt can adversely impact a person’s self-image.

Ultimately, it’s about feeling you’re not good enough.

That your successes aren’t really successes – and were perhaps accidental.

And you’re worried about being found out as a fraud. 

You feel there are people out there doing a much better job than you. That others have the answers, while you’re just faking it until you make it.

These feelings are completely normal – but they’re unlikely to simply go away. 

Because every time you step out of your comfort zone and try something new – like being promoted to a new position or starting to work with a much bigger client – your mind will naturally go into protection mode and start making you doubt yourself.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. So your mind is simply trying to keep you safe. 

You could even personify Imposter Syndrome and see her as a best friend – rather than an enemy. She is ultimately there to ask questions and ensure you’re sure about your decisions – because she doesn’t want you to get hurt.

She’s not intentionally trying to cause drama and make you stop in your tracks.

I once did a talk at the Speakers Institute Bootcamp on this topic and I came up with an acronym around the whole Imposter friendship thing.


H – Hear what she has to say. What’s the story you’re telling yourself?

U – Understand where it’s coming from. Is it based on something a parent, friend, or colleague once said?

G – Go do it anyway! Deep down, if it feels like the right thing to do – then tell her you’re confident in your decision and do it.

S – After you’ve done it, you’ll hear Silence. Because the voice will quieten when it’s done. But she’ll only stay quiet for a little while…until the next challenge arises or you step out of your comfort zone again. 

Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg provides some tips on managing Imposter Syndrome in her book, ‘Lean In’. I’ve reflected on her advice and expanded with some of my own thoughts.

They include:

  • Giving yourself credit for your achievements – rather than brushing them off. Don’t be afraid to share your successes with colleagues or online. And accept the compliments – rather than being self-deprecating about your accomplishments.
  • Accept that you’ll make mistakes sometimes – and that’s okay. They’ll teach you lessons and help you improve in the long run.
  • Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Just be that confident, smart woman you know you are. You got to your position or were chosen for the role or job for a reason. You ARE worthy.
  • Know you’re not alone. And share these thoughts with others. Or journal about them. Give yourself advice on how to manage these feelings – in the same way you’d give advice to others.
  • Stop idolising others. They’re not super humans. Just maybe a few years ahead of you. You don’t know what mistakes they’ve made and experiences they’ve had. They probably feel like impostors themselves!

My advice is to stop accepting the stories you’ve created for yourself. Don’t limit yourself – just because no one else in your social circle has reached your goal. Start hanging out with people who are constantly pushing themselves out of their comfort zones. And ask them about their own experiences with Imposter Syndrome.

Because I’m sure you’re not alone! 

In closing, I encourage you to embrace the Imposter Syndrome – rather than fear it. 

Listen to what it’s telling you – but also listen to your gut. If, deep down, you know you deserve to be where you are, then you’re right. 

Accept the praise. Celebrate your achievements. And keep pushing the limits. There are no glass ceilings! You can do anything!


Throughout her career, Leanne Shelton has gained vast experience in journalism, marketing, communications, events, and B2B sales. She has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit roles, but since starting Write Time Marketing in 2014, Leanne has found her true calling.

A self-proclaimed English nerd at heart, Leanne is extremely passionate about the written word and loves working with Health & Wellness business owners to prepare effective content marketing strategies to best suit their target audiences. Even though she has dabbled in all forms of copywriting, Leanne specialises in business blogging as she loves the capacity to form ongoing relationships with her clients.

While some business owners choose to outsource their blogs to Leanne to write, others prefer to take the DIY approach and learn about the art via training opportunities online, face-to-face, and her podcast ‘Marketing & Me’.

Outside the office, Leanne enjoys dancing, reading, listening to inspiring podcasts, and spending quality time with her husband and two young daughters.


Imposter Syndrome: Symptoms, types, and how to deal with it

Valerie Young – The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women

Sheryl Sandberg – Lean In

What is Imposter Syndrome and how can you combat it?


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writetimemarketing
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leanneshelton247/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteTimeMkting

Similar podcasts:

Ep 6 – Jennifer Hill: How to amaze the f**k out of yourself

Ep 150 – Leanne Shelton: Using accountability to get stuff done