Understanding and Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

May 7, 2020


Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “I do not belong here!” or “I am not cut out for this job?” That’s the kind of negative self-talk and doubt that is characteristic of people who suffer from imposter syndrome.

You feel undeserving of all that comes with your position, including the success. You think it should all belong to someone else. That no matter how good an executive assistant you are, everyone will soon see you for the fraud you think yourself to be, and the anxiety cripples you.

You Are Not Alone

As it turns out, this psychological condition is quite common among administrative professionals. As an executive assistant, this syndrome may begin to manifest when, for whatever reason, you lack confidence in your skills and abilities.

It may be that you compare yourself to the team you support. Perhaps, you’ve just started at your job as an executive assistant and are feeling too overwhelmed? Or that you compare yourself to others in a similar role?

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The first step towards overcoming imposter syndrome, is, of course, realizing that you are suffering from it. Recognize and acknowledge the tell-tale signs and be deliberate about overcoming the syndrome.

Start your journey towards crossing over from the imposter syndrome territory with the following tips

  1. Record Your Achievements

Make a list of your greatest achievements as an executive assistant and keep adding onto that list regularly. That time when you designed a more efficient scheduling system. Think also of when you overhauled the filing system.

It takes great skills to achieve any of these accomplishments. Remind yourself of that, and everything that you are doing right the next time thoughts of self-doubt threaten to overwhelm you. Remember to praise yourself for these achievements.

  1. Stay Positive

The only way to get rid of a negative thought is to replace it with a good one. Train yourself to maintain a positive mindset throughout the day.

Away from your accomplishments, have a set of go-to positive statements that will help with your positive affirmation. “I am more than capable” remind yourself of this and more when you are feeling anxious about planning a conference or corporate meeting. It helps to keep a list of all the abilities that make you uniquely suited for your job as an executive assistant.

  1. Build A Support Network

All the feelings that come with imposter syndrome can lead you to isolate yourself and avoid interacting with others at your workplace. Keeping to yourself will only make things worse.

Build a network around you consisting of people that you can trust. You can always share what you are feeling knowing you can lean on these people. It also helps if you have people that you can turn to for assistance with your work assignments. You then won’t have to start doubting yourself when you are a little stuck.

Also, work on building the relationship with your boss. Ask for feedback now and again. Knowing what you are doing right will only help to boost your confidence. Directly asking about what you can improve on beats overthinking about the same.

  1. Learn to Take Criticism

Don’t take criticism, from whatever quarters, as a reinforcement of the incompetence you have convinced your mind to believe you have. Don’t start doubting your abilities or think of yourself as a less competent executive assistant when your boss mentions that you should pay more attention to detail when setting up meetings.

Don’t beat yourself on dwell too much on any perceived mistake or failure. Welcome and appreciate constructive criticism. Recognize it as part of your learning process. Take it all in stride, implement any necessary changes and you will only come out a better assistant.

  1. Add to Your Knowledge Base

There is a wealth of information out there on imposter syndrome. Read on how some of the greatest minds of our time have been able to overcome the very thing you feel may be your undoing. As highlighted, it is not an uncommon phenomenon, and recognizing this fact, in itself makes it less daunting of an experience.

Again, you may also want to increase your knowledge and hone the skills that pertain directly to the executive assistant role. If it will make you more effective at your job, then it is worth reading on and implementing. Read on time management, organization, strategic planning and other such areas that will help you be a better assistant. Negative thoughts don’t stand a chance when you are more confident in your abilities.

The Takeaway

Acknowledging that you do suffer from imposter syndrome and identifying where it stems from is always the perfect place to start. Implement the highlighted tips, among others, to overcome the imposter syndrome and you can thrive as an executive assistant.

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the ASAP Circle, a community platform for peer-to-peer conversation on trending topics, professional challenges, and shared experiences. We even have designated spaces for weekly Tuesday Coffee Breaks.

Start Connecting Today!

American Society of Administrative Professionals

Producer of

APC  EA Ignite