Unpacking Michelle Obama’s Impostor Syndrome

In a December 2018 talk at an all-girls school in North London, Michelle Obama was asked how she felt about being viewed as a “symbol of hope.” That’s when the former First Lady disclosed something countless millions of women and men around the world experience, but often don’t have a name for. "I still have a little [bit of] impostor syndrome, it never goes away, that you're actually listening to me." Impostor syndrome describes a core belief that we're not as bright or competent or...

New Narratives About Impostor Syndrome In Popular Culture

Impostor syndrome is seemingly everywhere, with an explosion of attention via books, blogs, online and print articles, podcasts, television and radio interviews, and social media. And with this popularity comes consequential shifts in the public conversation. Currently there are two divergent narratives about impostor syndrome. One frames it as a positive. The other challenges the very concept itself while simultaneously blaming it on systemic bias in society as a whole or within...

What If I Really AM an Impostor?

Dear Dr. Young, For me, it’s always been about achieving success when I have no business doing so. That’s not to say that I exploit others, far from it! Instead, it’s that I shouldn’t be in the position I am in because I don’t know these things, I don’t have the degrees, and I don’t have the experience. When asked by the team or higher-ups what I think our next move is, I tell them what I think we should do, and the suggestion is met with high praise and acclaim!But I have no idea how to...

Why I Hate Accomplishment Lists

Anyone who has ever started a small business knows how painfully slow success can be. It’s easy to get discouraged. That’s why, in the mid-90s, I started to document small wins. Year 1 Interviewed by my local newspaper Applied to teach at adult learning center Ran one public workshop Year 2 Interviewed by The Boston Globe Profiled in UMass alum magazine Sent press releases to 12 newspapers Taught two adult learning center classes Took HTML class Bought website domain The process reminded me...

The Competence Rulebook for Mere Mortals

All achievers want to do their best.  But when you feel like an impostor, your “best” includes a host of self-expectations that go far beyond doing well.  Whether you know it or not, your view of competence is a major contributor to perpetuating your belief that you are an impostor.  Over the years you’ve adopted notions about what’s required for you to be considered talented, knowledgeable, skilled, or, in a word, “good” enough. And these notions have everything to do with how competent...

The True Opposite of Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome describes the tendency to dismiss evidence of our accomplishments. To believe instead that we’ve fooled others into thinking we’re more intelligent or capable than we “know” ourselves to be and that it’s just a matter of time before we’re found out. But what’s the opposite of impostor syndrome? In Valerie Young’s 2017 TED Talk she referred to people who don’t experience impostor syndrome simply as “non-impostors.” Even then, she knew the term was not ideal because people...

Fact Check: Impostor is Not a Scam or Conspiracy

Fact Check: Impostor is Not a Scam or Conspiracy

Impostor syndrome is a scam.

Worse, it is a deliberate misogynous strategy created to hold women back.

Besides, it’s not even real.

That was the troubling and wildly inaccurate message of the 2023 commencement speech at Smith College.

3 Ways to Unlearn Impostor Syndrome in 2024

As we head into 2024, our mission remains the same: To address the (avoidable) impact of impostor syndrome on individuals and organizations. Here are a few steps you can take at the individual level to address impostor syndrome: 1. Reflecting on 2023, identify specific ways impostor syndrome impacted your work/life? For instance… Did overworking or over preparing cause you to miss out on time for family, friends, self-care? Did you hold back from going for a promotion, starting or scaling...

Impostor Syndrome Institute | Do what you want but know what you're doing

Where Does Impostor Syndrome Come From — and Why It Matters

There is no shortage of people with strong opinions about impostor syndrome. While everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinion, in many cases, they are uninformed. I don’t expect the general public to do a deep dive into the research. After all there are countless hundreds of studies on impostor phenomenon. But I do expect therapists, coaches, advisors, mentors, or really anyone who works directly with individuals who may experience impostor syndrome, to be informed. Case in...

Top 10 Ways to Know You Suffer From Impostor Syndrome

Top 10 Ways to Know If You Suffer From Impostor Syndrome 

Impostor syndrome describes the belief shared by millions of men and women around the world that deep down we really aren’t as intelligent, capable, qualified, or talented as everyone seems to THINK we are — despite evidence of our accomplishments. But impostor syndrome can often be confused with low self-esteem, self-worth, lack of confidence — and a variety of other human experiences. So leading expert Dr. Valerie Young offers up these 10 ways to know if you suffer from impostor syndrome:...

The 5 Types of Impostor Syndrome

What’s In Your Competence Rulebook? I’ve spent close to four decades helping people who feel like impostors, fakes, and frauds. In that time, I’ve come to an important conclusion: If you want to truly put yourself on the fast track to feeling as bright and capable as you really are, then nothing — and I do mean nothing — will get you there quicker than adjusting your beliefs about what it takes to be competent. Why? Because the impostor syndrome goes beyond a mere lack of confidence....

Download your copy of the Impostor Syndrome Institute Licensing Blueprint

Please check your email for access!


By submitting this form you give consent to use this information to send additional emails and communication as described in our Privacy Policy

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Sign Up for Friday, November 12
12pm ET/5pm GMT

Please check your email for access!

Sign Up for Tuesday, November 23
9am ET/2pm GMT

Please check your email for access!

Sign Up for Thursday, November 18
2:30pm ET/7:30pm GMT

Please check your email for access!

Sign Up for Tuesday, November 23
9am ET/2pm GMT

Please check your email for access!


Please put me on the wait list to be notified of future training dates!

You'll be the first to know!