It’s really hard to get rid of impostor syndrome completely — especially if you’ve had it for years and years. The fact that hugely successful people like Maya Angelou and Don Cheadle feel that way after all they’ve accomplished is evidence that it can sometimes be a lifelong condition.
That’s why the best angle from which to tackle your impostor syndrome isn’t getting rid of it completely; it’s stopping it from hindering your success.
I like the way Richards put it: “We know what the feeling is called. We know others suffer from it. We know a little bit about why we feel this way. And we now know how to handle it: Invite it in and remind ourselves why it’s here and what it means.”
Richards says he’s been invited to speak about his work and career all over the world, and yet he still hasn’t been able to get rid of his impostor syndrome. What he has learned to do is think of it “as a friend.”
Whenever he hears that negative voice in his head, he pauses for a minute, takes a deep breath, and says to himself, “Welcome back, old friend. I’m glad you’re here. Now, let’s get to work.”
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2016, but was updated in March 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness.