The Golden Age for women entrepreneurs has finally begun. Enterprising females are equipped with inspiration, know-how and inner grr to expand their opportunities. The rate of women entrepreneurs has been growing at a percentage at least double that of their male counterparts. The 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report found that companies helmed by women entrepreneurs had 13% higher revenues than those run by men and finished 9% above the average for all entrepreneurs surveyed. Yet women have been conditioned to think they are not capable as men when it comes to launching and growing business.

The mindset of the 17th century still lurks in the heads of some men and women alike. Women are not given the benefit of the doubt that they can do the same job as good or better than their male counterparts. The irony is that the further women had progressed into your career, the more opportunities for the imposter complex to rear its head.

In 1978, clinical psychologists Dr Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the terms “Imposter Syndrome” to described they found in numerous high achieving women lived with a fear or belief that they didn’t deserve their success, a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, attributing their achievements to luck, generosity or naivety of others. In 1993, Clance conceded that imposter syndrome as a uniquely female problem has been incorrect as males in were just as likely as females to have low expectations of success.

You can never eradicate the feelings associated with Imposter Syndrome. However, you can learn to dance with it, combat it and break through it quickly to rise again. Here are nine ways to curb these feelings in a healthy, proactive way.

Learn to dance

The most important step is learning how to dance with the imposter. You know what the feeling is called, you know others that suffer from it, you know a little bit about why you feel this way. Invite it in and remind yourself why it is here and what it means. View it as a friend and when it rears its ugly head, and it will, take a deep breath, pause for a minute, put a smile on your face and say, “Welcome back old friend. I am glad you are here because it means I have reached a point of success. Now, let’s get to work.”

Accomplishment Box

Investing time and energy in to celebrating your accomplishments is a resourceful way of reflecting on all the hard work you have put in to achieve your success. Embrace the fact that you got yourself to where you are, you earned your stripes and your accomplishments are the evidence that your ego is looking for.

Don’t derail from what’s yours

Asking yourself quality questions enables you to identify what is rightfully yours. Squash negative self-talk by asking quality questions – “What evidence exists that you are any less qualified than anybody else to do this work? Who are you to take away the experience for another human being? What evidence exists that you are just as qualified.” List 5 things. When you identify the worst thing that could happen if it didn’t work, eliminates the guess work and creates perspective.

Reframe your language

When you hear the whisper inside your head, it’s time to reframe your thoughts to move into your authentic confidence. Dare to believe someone when they tell you how remarkable you are and rise to the occasion by saying ‘thank you’.

Updating your language with more confident, assertive statements creates a circuit breaker within your brain. When you repeat repeatedly, you start to believe in what you are saying with ease and grace.

Giving your best is not the same as being your best

Self-acceptance is the key. Being clear about your standards and making progress, not perfection, allows you to contribute and be your type of valuable. You don’t have to be Picasso to be leave your imprint, however when you share your insight, knowledge and wisdom you enrich the lives around you.

Owning it all

You often hear people talking about taking responsibility for your failures yet the same applies with your successes. If you feel that you are undeserving, list all the key things in the past 12 months that you have accomplished.

Reframe failure as feedback and explore the lessons and use them to propel you forward. Remember, self-doubt is the proof of your humanity.

Comparison becomes a dark hole

Too often people fall into the trap of comparing our insides with others outside. The “if only” comes out when you hear yourself say things like, “If only I could speak the confidence that Julie does when on stage”, or “If only I was as artistic as Zoe when she pulls together her launch”, or “If only I could be more like Zak when it comes to making quick decisions”.

As humans we all make comparisons. However, in a world governed by digital media, we do it more now than ever. People continue to showcase the best aspects of their life and you are drawn in to the illusion, triggering questioning your own accomplishments. Re-wiring your thinking by being more self-compassionate and adopting positive self-talk will recalibrate the internal compass.

Shift your thinking

Separating feelings from fact is crucial. There are times you will feel stupid and it happens to everyone from time to time. Just because you may feel stupid doesn’t mean you are.

Adam Grant, in his book Originals, describes two kinds of doubt. Self-doubt, which causes you to freeze up, and Idea-doubt, which can motivate you to work on refining, testing or experimenting with a good idea. Turn self-doubt into idea-doubt by telling yourself that this is a draft of an idea, and you are just not there yet.

Henry Ford once said. “failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”. Rather than beating yourself up for being human, look for the opportunity – the learning value from the mistake – and move on.

Self-doubt is a symptom of success

If you have ever thought to yourself, “One of these days people will realize l don’t know as much as they think”, then you are in good company.

Famous actors, CEO’s, and changemakers are most likely to encounter the imposter syndrome. Success is synonymous with coming face-to-face with self-doubt. It doesn’t matter who you are, imposter feelings can strike at any time. It affects some of the world’s most celebrated people.

Facebook’s COO Sherly Sandberg has said, “There are still days l wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am”. The Harry Potter actress and UN ambassador, Emma Watson has repeatedly admitted she feels like an imposter. In his book “The Icarus Deception”, Seth Godin wrote that he still feels like a fraud despite having published a dozen best sellers.

When you feel like a fraud, you are doing something right. Remember, you have got this.

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business. She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.

Can we borrow strengths from others without feeling like an imposter?

So you’re feeling jealous? Lost to the dark side? It happens. You know the scenario: She, (insert name) has the entire package: intelligent, friendly, capable, attractive, collaborative, and a success at every turn, so what’s not to like? Except… she’s just passed you in the fast lane.

Once a teammate, she’s now your manager, and it’s driving you nuts. Why didn’t they pick you? What was once admiration has morphed to envy and with escalating annoyance, you’re haunted by the thought, “I want what she’s got! How can I get it? “

Can you compete? Of course you can. The concept that ‘leaders are born, not made’, is simply not true. Some may have a head-start with certain attributes, but all strengths are available to each one of us as natural resources to develop at will – we simply need motivation, know-how, and perseverance. So the good news is, whatever you want as a new strength in real life is yours for the taking.

Here is a 5-step strategy to help you transform into that ‘enhanced’ person you’d like to become:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Perceive your discomfort as a gift.

There’s no need for guilt or denial. The edginess you’re experiencing may be generating negative emotions that you’re not proud of, but it’s also serving as a wake-up call and catalyst for self-development and positive change. With this awareness, you can motivate yourself to move away from a state of victimhood, and toward constructive, self-empowering action; a so-called ‘evolution of the soul’.

2. Define What You Want

Identify the characteristics of your desired strength

Each of us has a complete repertoire of personal strengths, but we grow up using, developing, and valuing some of them more than others. What you’ll be doing at this stage is gaining clarity about which dusty, marginalised strength you want to pull back out of the cupboard for use.

In our fictitious scenario, let’s assume that the ‘new manager’ grew up with a natural comfort with ‘assertiveness’. She’d always been at ease being directive, outgoing, competitive, and goal-driven and these attributes had placed her on the fast track to the management role.

Let’s say you, on the other hand, have always perceived the very same assertive characteristics, as being pushy, demanding and lacking in sensitivity. You found you could only exercise them when you were angry or defensive and under those circumstances it wasn’t pretty.

But feeling left behind, you are now determined to expand your repertoire. You decide, for example, that you want to be able to say ‘no’ to projects you don’t have time for, have the courage to push your agenda forward in a competitive meeting, and be a thought leader instead of a silent follower…

Taking you back now to your own real life situation, this step, is about observing how the strength you seek to develop looks and sounds on others- then, visualising it and trying it on for size yourself.

3. Plan How to ‘Express’ It

Create a strategic plan for its manifestation

Coach yourself to begin using the strength in a realistic situation. Picture the anticipated scenario and try to see, hear, and feel yourself using the attribute in a way that is comfortable for your personality style. What words will you use, what behaviour, what tone of voice? The same attribute may look quite different on each one of us but generate a similar effect.

4. Repeatedly Envision It

Your opportunity for a safe, trial run

See yourself using the desired attribute just as you planned in Step 3, as if watching yourself in a movie. See people responding well. See yourself achieving the exact outcomes you’re looking for. Picture it over and over again so that when you’re presented with a real opportunity, you’re well-rehearsed and ready to give it a shot.

5. Enact it

Show time!

Wear your strength like a pair of new jeans- they may feel snug at the start but will ease up with use. Persevere. Enjoy, and know that you’re not an imposter. This is ‘your new strength, expressed your way’. And think about, good old ‘envy’ got you here!


Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, A 7-Step Guide to Personal Fulfilment (Love & Write Publishing). She is an internationally recognized integrative coach-therapist. Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as executive coach, leadership trainer, speaker, author, and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world. For more information visit or contact: