The secret to overcoming Imposter Syndrome revealed here!

Share story

You’ve just landed that great job or that amazing promotion you’ve been gunning for since day one.

Congratulations! You’ve worked hard, studied hard, done everything right, and now you are getting the reward you so richly deserve.

So why do you feel terrified? Why does it suddenly seem as if it’s all happening too fast, as if you’re a fraud, as if you’re really not good enough, as if you’ve actually just been faking it all along and now everyone is about to find out?

Well, maybe it’s because you have higher-than-average intelligence. It’s true — research has shown that people who suffer from this Imposter Syndrome tend to be smarter and more competent than people who feel perfectly at ease with their abilities and performance.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

So the first thing you can do is take comfort that you’re in good company.

The second thing is to manage those self-destructive feelings so they don’t get in the way of your success and your enjoyment in that success. How?

This is going to sound a little crazy, but bear with me here.

The secret to overcoming feelings that you’re “faking it” is to fake it.

Seriously. The trick here is to harness the powerful principle of acting “as if.” That is, when we act “as if” we’re calm we actually feel calmer; acting “as if” we’re happy makes us genuinely happier; and acting “as if” we’re confident indeed makes us more confident.

You do all this by taking a deep breath, smiling, standing and sitting up straight, making eye contact, speaking slowly and with assurance, and saying “Great!” when people ask you how it’s going.

It helps to dress the part, too. Nowadays, this means dressing the way the smartest and most successful people in your industry dress.

Of course, try to maintain your sense of humor as well as a becoming sense of humility. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and determine to learn from them.

Most of all, remember that, whatever your new role, it’s always OK to ask questions. You don’t need to pretend you know everything, because you are not faking competence, you are faking confidence.

Remember this, and you’ll be using those “faking-it” powers for good.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at