HBA Montgomery Corridor’s Wine’d Down Wednesday Signature Series “Slays the Impostor Syndrome”

On 20 June, HBA Montgomery Corridor launched a powerful knowledge-networking bi-monthly signature series “Wine’d Down Wednesday,” in the sophisticated coworking environment of our sponsor Serendipity Labs Bethesda.   

The evening brought together a perfect duo—good wine and talented women. Attendees ranged from finance to clinical and included government, women in transition and non-profits women who understand the power of networking. In Sean Anchor’s book, Big Potential, he writes “the greatest predictor of success and happiness is social connection.”

Programming committee member, Sharon Weinstein, ‘wine’d down’ the networking with a warm introduction of executive and leadership coach Lynn Ellen Queen, MBA, CLC, PCC.

Queen shared a startling statistic: “Seventy percent of people experience ‘impostor syndrome,’ a feeling of self-doubt, at some time during her, or his, life.” She described the syndrome as a form of perfectionism, or a fear of failure, that often leads sufferers to discount deserved praise. In fact, the impostor syndrome is the opposite of a lack of confidence.

High-achieving women with impostor syndrome often have a strong sense of diligence driven by fear. Strangely, achieving success and being praised increases the feeling of being a fraud. Sufferers often believe they are more lucky than smart and may eventually avoid well-suited opportunities for fear of failing.

Impostor syndrome feelings spring from negative self-talk. An internal tape, or an inner voice, is caught in a loop, repeating that one is not good enough, or worthy. Internal actions become inaction, which leads to being miserable.  

The good news: change is possible. The change happens within a person and is echoed by body language, a mirror of our emotions. In other words, developing a new language or voice, internally, can put you on a new course externally.  

“We get to choose what we think,” Queen said. “We have to notice what we are thinking and come up with a new mantra that creates a new neuropath. Notice it, be mindful, catch yourself in the negative-talk space and repeat the new mantra.”  

Queen advised to reinforce the new mantra with confident body language: engage the core, stand up straight and look forward. In her coaching practice, she also asks clients to physically stand up and acknowledge self-worth—repeating it (outloud) until it feels more comfortable.  It is possible, with conscious reinforcement, to feel a noticeable change within six weeks.

Six steps to quiet impostor syndrome feelings:

  1. Notice negative self-talk. What is it saying and is it serving you?
  2. Develop a new mantra.
  3. Repeat the new mantra every time you think or feel negative self-talk looping.
  4. Develop confident body language to reinforce the new mantra.
  5. Acknowledge your self-worth (out loud), either to an accountability partner, coach or friend.  
  6. Learn to accept praise.

Once you begin to acknowledge good work by accepting praise, you develop a sense of quiet confidence. Quiet confidence is a powerful combination of self-awareness and self-acceptance; which is the cure for impostor syndrome.

Queen closed with a powerful reminder: “You are not worthy because of what you do or what others think. You are worthy because you are. Opinions and learnings should not affect your worth.”

Sign up now for future Wine’d Down Wednesdays:

Episode 2: Resource Ways to Build Resilience featuring executive coach Rachel Verlik who will share tools to adjust your mindset on 22 August.

Episode 3: Emotional Intelligence in Workplace Politics featuring executive coach Monica Thakrar who will share ideas for managing organizational politics to benefit your mission by using EQ on 24 October.

Impostor syndrome recommended videos and articles:

TED Talks:

Harvard Business Review: