Afraid Of Being Found Out?

Do you believe your success is a fluke? Are you harboring dark secrets of inadequacy or feelings of amazement that you are in the role you are in? Then you may also worry that at any time you will be discovered as an imposter or a fraud, and once found out your life will somehow be changed and you will need to work even harder to claw your way back up. If you are plagued by these thoughts and feel ready to give them up then let’s explore a more empowering version of your truth.

Having heard of terms like imposter thinking some time ago I initially thought it was the exclusive domain of women, having coached many executive women who felt like this, and personally having gone through this earlier on in my career. Then I started to notice this trend also existed with some of my male clients too.

The stress of being found out gnaws away at our self-confidence and keeps us working harder though not necessarily smarter because our performance is being driven by fear. What if our performance was driven by possibility instead of fear?

Here are some tips for breaking through the limitations of imposter thinking and starting afresh as a worthy human being who respects and appreciates their right to be where they are at in their career.

Tip 1
Know that you are in good company; some of the greatest leaders reveal they’ve had these thoughts at one time or another and then overcame them. It doesn’t have to be a permanent state. Imagine yourself helping others one day in the future by speaking to them honestly and openly about having overcome your own fears of being found out as a fraud and how you took control and changed this.

Tip 2
What if you knew you are already enough and believed that simply by being here on this planet you are already enough. Just the thought and feeling of evaluating yourself as already being enough will probably elicit a sigh of relief.

Who gets to decide that you are “already enough”; is it you or other people? If you notice you give your power over to others to decide if you are already enough, or not, then now would be the perfect time to take back the decision-making power.

Tip 3
Write down all the significant things you have achieved in your life and your work. Then write down all the feedback you have been given throughout your life that you’ve taken on board and learned from and which has made you stronger. Note down every contribution you’ve made to your success and include things like setting a positive intention about your future through to stepping into an opportunity even as your knees trembled. As you acknowledge the proof in front of you, give yourself credit for navigating through the ups and downs and learning what you had to learn to stay in the game. Is it possible that our success so far is not a random occurrence? Many others left the game, and you, well you stayed!

Tip 4
Contain the mistakes and failures. By that I mean construct a decontamination chamber in your mind and drop every perceived mistake or bad event into the chamber and shut the lid tightly. Don’t let a single one escape. Now they can no longer contaminate other areas of your life or work! Recognise they just belonged to a point in time that you have since moved on from. They are signs of a living, breathing, completely fallible human being that is you.

Tip 5
Re-write a narrative about yourself. If your tendency is towards modesty then give yourself permission to talk about yourself in a positive way that acknowledges everything you’ve done, given up on, failed at, succeeded at, are proud of, would do differently and all that has made you who you are today.

Once you embrace and fully own your narrative, warts and all, notice how the feelings of being found out dissipate. Having already revealed the authentic you to yourself and hopefully to others there is nothing to hide and only more for you to become and to discover.


Equilibrio’s executive services are engaged and retained by senior leaders and executives in Australian organisations, multi-nationals, government, and not-for-profit organisations.