Is Self-Doubt Stalling Your Career?

By Nancy Fredericks


Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

There is little argument that women experience self-doubt in business. A KPMG study reports that women executives said: Seventy-five percent personally experience imposter syndrome [self-doubt] at certain points in their career.

Self-doubt has you residing inside the box of your job description in a business world where the outside is growth and expansion, and promotion. So, if you have even a smidgeon of self-doubt shadowing your thoughts and if you want to set the foundation for a fulfilling, unlimited career, you most definitely need to overcome self-doubt.

Diminishing Self: Listen carefully to what your executive women friends say about themselves, their experiences, and the career risks they’re taking. It’s sad to say more often than not. You’ll hear conversations riddled with “less than thinking.”

It should be self-evident. If you’re not representing yourself with power and strength, its dubious leaders will readily swing wide the doors of increased responsibility and influence. And women diminish themselves, so subtly we often don’t even hear it.

This career deflating attitude reveals itself during coaching. Just recently, I was discussing expansion possibilities with a client when she said: “Oh, why would they choose me when they have others more capable?”

If you hear yourself saying anything like that…. Pause. Recognize you’re giving your future away without a fight.

Language Internal Construct: A clear sign of self-doubt is a consistent internal destruct-dialogue that degrades who you are. How do you overcome this habit because it’s something you’ve permitted to rule—and you have to turn it around.

  • Stop Being A Tough Grader: Begin treating you as your best friend who you admire and respect. You would never expect nor measure others through a lens of perfection, yet that is what you do to yourself.
  • Pay Attention: You have to proactively convert your language of destruct into the language of construct. What words are you using that reduces how you feel about yourself? Now consciously and methodically focus your speech on supporting your growing greatness.
  • Remember Your Achievements: If you have any questions about your greatness, it’s time to power up the synapsis of your brain to recall your past successes. Soak yourself in the memory. If you’re struggling:
    Begin a Celebration Journal where you record all your wins to counteract any self-doubt that pops up to hold you small.

Identify Your Fear: If you don’t experience a transformation and if your self-doubt is still ringing out, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and get in touch with what’s holding you back. There is a strong probability that it is something you’re afraid of doing—that’s fear. And fear is rarely real, nor is it often relevant today.

Touch it. Identify it. Bring it from the unconscious to the conscious realm because that is the only place you can deal with it. Why even work on it? In your heart-of-hearts, you know it sure isn’t helping your career future.

Breakthrough in this area leads to confidence, leading to a career future filled with one possibility after another.

If you’re interested in practical ideas for expanding your career, check out my Podcast Lessons From The Margins.

You may be ready to jump into a dynamic community of women executives to excel in your career.

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