Beating imposter syndrome with Sahana Sekaran: Repeat it until you believe it


Sahana Sekaran

November 2, 2021 | 2 min read

“Fake it until you make it.”

How many times have you seen this advice when it comes to dealing with imposter syndrome? For me, it’s been 273248632 times too many. If imposter syndrome is all about feeling like a fraud, or worrying you’ll be exposed as a fake, why are we telling people “yeah, you’re right, keep faking it”?

It’s short-term advice. It doesn’t reach the root of the problem. And you’ll end up feeling even lousier about yourself. 

So over this three-part blog series, I’ll introduce you to my three tried and tested, totally cheesy, but totally catchy alternatives. I’m dropping in both advice (and some fun exercises) for those suffering from imposter syndrome or who want to help others deal with it, too.

Repeat it until you believe it

This one is all about finding out what makes you great and getting really comfortable with it. Everyone has something special about them. Everyone has a wonderful, unique value that they bring to a team, and I’m big on being authentic and embracing people’s uniqueness. You can’t feel like a fraud or a fake if you’re being totally authentic.

Exercise 1: Find your edge (5 mins)

Here’s a great question I was asked a few years ago…

Sahana, what’s your edge?

I had no idea what they were talking about. Turns out an “edge” is what makes you stand out from anyone else who could functionally do your job. Essentially, what makes you so bloody great to work with? I’d never asked myself that before and a lot of people don’t ask themselves that question.

So this exercise is simple. Just pick three words that uniquely describe what it’s like to work with you. What makes you so bloody great to work with?

The best thing about this exercise is that it’s best done with others. Bring in your manager, colleagues, friends, family, your dog sitter… What three words are they using to describe you? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many similarities you see.

Write them down and stick them on your desk. Remind yourself of these words weekly. Revisit the exercise every year. Make. It. Stick.

Advice for managers or for helping someone else

  1. Spot the signs of imposter syndrome in the people around you or in your team. You can find a list of tells here.
  2. Talk about imposter syndrome. It’s totally normal, wildly common, and simply making someone in your team feel comfortable talking about it is the start of dealing with it. Why not share this blog with them if you need an ice-breaker?
  3. If you’re a senior manager or leader (and you’re comfortable with it), open up about your own imposter syndrome. I’m really big on being vulnerable as a leader. I’m not saying go and speak publically like I am, but at least talk to your team about it.
  4. This one’s easy: Do the Edge Exercise with your team. 

Next up

The next article in my imposter syndrome series will focus on my second tip for beating imposter syndrome: learning that you earned it. We’ll be posting next week so keep a lookout.