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7 Strategies To Build A Growth Mindset As An Impostor

Written by: Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I’m never going to be successful. I’m never going to get this. This is who I am and always will be, and I just have to accept this. Have you ever had these thoughts? Have you ever felt this way? Have you wished no matter how difficult things were, you might be able to figure out a way to achieve your desires? Or that you can learn how to overcome that challenge? Or that regardless of what has happened in your past, that doesn’t mean it will hold true for your future?

The first represents a fixed mindset, which will hold you back, and limit your growth, while the second is a growth mindset where you see potential and possibilities. Which mindset do you have? Which mindset do you want?

Fixed Mindset

When experiencing impostor phenomenon, you will often say and think phrases such as “I can’t…”, “I’m never…”, “I’m always…”, fill in the rest with which ever limiting beliefs you have of yourself there.

These types of thoughts reflect a fixed mindset where you see your intelligence, talents and abilities as preset with no hope of changing or improving. The fixed mindset is often connected with impostor phenomenon as you often see yourself as being limited in your abilities. You feel you’ll never be able to change that “fact” and never achieve the goals you truly desire.

If you struggle in accomplishing your task because you have to learn more, you may feel you’re inferior to others because you perceive them as already having that knowledge naturally. This may cause you to avoid tasks and challenges that require you to learn beyond your current knowledge. This is known as the natural genius, one of the five types of impostors identified by Dr. Valerie Young.

When you experience impostor phenomenon you often are concerned with how you look to others and seek the approval of others to validate your abilities. You feel and think that no matter what you do, it’s never good enough, and you will never be good enough. These are some of the elements of a fixed mindset.

And due to your mindset of a set of the perception of limited skills, when you make a mistake, or fail, you will see this as an indication of you as a failure which will reinforce your impostor thoughts that you will always be a failure.

When employing a fixed mindset, you will often use words such as always, never, forever, and other limiting or finite words which keep you restricted from growing.

To break out of this restrictive mindset you need to develop a growth mindset which will also help to reduce the impostor phenomenon thoughts.

Growth Mindset

What is a growth mindset? To start, here’s what a growth mindset isn’t: It’s not about being flexible, or open-minded or just always being positive. This is what people often attribute to the meaning of having a growth mindset.

However, a growth mindset is believing that your talents, skills, knowledge can grow and be developed by your effort. By developing good strategies, learning from the past and gaining feedback from others.

Dr. Carol Dweck identified the foundations of the growth mindset through her studies of attitude and behavior, almost 30 years ago. Dweck expresses her belief in the growth mindset where everyone, regardless of what their original knowledge, talents and abilities are, can grow and change through their experiences and how they apply that new knowledge.

You want to treat challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow, and see there are possibilities to learn and develop within yourself.

The goal is to not just see there are possibilities and opportunities when faced with challenges, but to believe that you can and will discover or create those possibilities and opportunities.

No, not everything will work out. Sometimes, things outside of your control and abilities just won’t end at the goal you desired. But perhaps it was due to the method. Perhaps it was due to the goal itself. Perhaps it was due to 50 other circumstances you had no control over.

That’s okay. You can still learn and grow from that process. By understanding what occurred and what could be changed for the future, or what new steps to take for next time. Now you’ve achieved growth and set yourself up for future growth potential.

No one has a purely growth mindset. There are always challenges and obstacles that come up in work and life that when you may be criticized, judged, or feel insecure, your fixed thoughts will rise up. While experiencing impostor phenomenon you’ll often fall into the mindset of “I’m never good enough”, “I’m always failing”.

When faced with a challenge you will probably start in a fixed mindset due to insecurity or past experiences. Your fixed-mindset in connection with your impostor thoughts may trigger as a protective measure in the beginning. But then you’ll re-evaluate the situation and move into your growth mindset of possibilities and potential. It’s normal to slide from fixed to growth.

7 Strategies to Build a Growth Mindset

To help you build up your growth mindset, apply these 7 strategies to your daily mindset and outlook.

1. Know that you have a choice to stay as is or to grow. You are not in a fixed state. You can change and develop, but it comes down to your desire to do so.

2. Understand that regardless of what has occurred before, you can grow and change, and outcomes can be different. No matter that a project has failed 4 times before, there is still the potential of a different outcome if you are trying different options.

3. See challenges and perceived obstacles as opportunities to develop new skills, and ways of thinking. Don’t look solely at the end goal of success or failure, but see the bigger picture of the process as a chance to learn and grow.

4. Build your persistence at working through a problem or challenge. Don’t avoid a challenge because you don’t know how to work through it, but use it as a chance to learn and develop your skills and abilities.

5. See failure as a learning process and not the end of the journey. Don’t attach failure to yourself. You can always take what you learned and apply it to a future experience.

6. Stop seeking approval and acceptance from others. Build up your confidence and belief in yourself. Even with a failure or setback, if you believe you can grow from this, then you aren’t focused on what others will say of you.

7. Seek help and be open to guidance from others. One way to learn and grow is to connect and ask others for guidance and knowledge.

Moving forward

In your own self-talk, don’t use words and phrases that have a finality to them. Add words such as yet, perhaps, and maybe, along with others, that reflect potential and future possibilities.

When using such words, aloud or to yourself, you are helping to develop a mindset of opportunities and potential over one of being closed, limited and fixed.

Go into projects, interacting with others and life in general with no expectations. Go for a mindset of accepting what life can bring you and seeking out opportunities and possibilities. No, it doesn’t mean you don’t make plans or set goals.

When experiencing impostor phenomenon, you go into plans or goals with a restrictive set mind of how everything must and will go and a fear of failure. Instead, you can set plans and goals and go in with a mindset of how you would like it workout. With the growth mindset, you are also ready to assess, shift, and redirect if need be by being open to new developments and opportunities.

The main focus of a growth mind is that you will continue to learn, and develop through your effort and growth.

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Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Victor Mosconi, is a PhD Candidate in Psychology, with a Master’s in Psychology of Leadership Development and Coaching, a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and founder of Imposter Solution Coach. Through his life-long experience with imposter syndrome, his psychology background, and coaching skills, Victor specializes in supporting up-and-coming women leaders and entrepreneurs in overcoming their self-doubt and imposter thoughts to develop a mindset of self-appreciation and strong self-belief. Take his quiz on his website and discover what level of impostor syndrome you experience.



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