Ask a room full of high-achieving women about their career accomplishments, and you’ll undoubtedly hear the same story from many of them: At one point or another, they were convinced that they weren’t as smart and talented as everyone else thought they were.
It’s a familiar feeling for Zoya Zayler, Canada inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture. A 2019 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leader Award winner, she believes that impostor syndrome was one of her biggest career obstacles. “Even when I received promotions or [new] roles, I felt like, ‘Oh, wow, I really lucked out,’ or ‘Wow, if they find out that I actually don’t have these skills, I’m screwed,’” she said at an event organized by Mercedes-Benz Canada, which supports female visionaries through the automotive manufacturer’s She’s Mercedes platform and an ongoing partnership with the Women’s Executive Network.
The good news is that self-doubt doesn’t have to hold you back. Here are a few facts we know about this thinking – and how we can change our mindset for the better.
Imposter syndrome is super common.
Some research estimates that around 70 percent of people have felt it. A recent survey sent to all of Harvard’s medical and dental students found that 18 percent of female respondents met the criteria for “intense” imposterism – despite being bright enough to get into an Ivy League school. So remember: That inner voice claiming you’re not good enough is a liar.
Know that slip-ups are no big deal.
It’s believed that there’s a link between perfectionism and imposter syndrome. If you feel a self-imposed (and, frankly, unrealistic) pressure to do your job flawlessly at all times, it’s worth remembering that we all make mistakes – especially when we’re doing something new.
Giving yourself credit is key.
Psychologists believe that impostor syndrome is partly due to an inability to internalize our successes. Instead, we credit external factors, like good luck. So if you’re doing a stellar job at work, own it.
Learning to accept positive feedback can help.
When your boss praises your accomplishments, do you downplay them? Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance, who pioneered research into imposter syndrome in the late ’70s, suggest keeping a record of positive feedback – as well as taking note when you resist accepting it. Once you notice this habit, try to listen and take in the compliments. Finding a mentor who’ll highlight your strengths can also be a huge benefit.
About She’s Mercedes
She’s Mercedes (#ShesMercedesCA) is a platform developed by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate and connect successful women, empowering them to be their best by inspiring power, confidence, and innovation. As part of its commitment to supporting women’s professional and personal advancement, Mercedes-Benz partners with Women’s Executive Network (WXN) to recognize Canada’s next generation of female leaders with the annual Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Awards.
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