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TB#26: The AAA Framework for Eliminating Impostor Syndrome


Again, a lot of talk on social media and in my academic bubble about the dreaded impostor syndrome.

And I have a weird feeling the new AI tools are making all this worse: People feel like they’re soon to be replaced by machines (perhaps this is not an entirely unwarranted fear?) and start to doubt their own talent. But from time to time everyone suffers from this!

So let’s try to do something about this, once again. But let’s give a definition to all this first:

Alright, so I want to share my formula for those days when you feel you’re just not good enough to do anything.

I call it the AAA framework, and it stands for Authenticity, Audience and Accomplishments.

Here’s how to leverage it for some real self-care on those days you need it.

1 – Authenticity

If you pretend to be something else than you are, rest assured you won’t be feeling good about it in the long run.

Work on expressing who you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you develop a strong sense of identity and self-worth, and just being true to yourself about your limitations alone can be a real game change. Don’t try to be more than you are.

Everyone is a snoflake in one way or another, so just accept your skills, form and character the way it is!

As a bonus, you will also get a better understanding of what you must to do to grow!

2 – Audience

You don’t get imposter syndrome unless you are being seen (or judged) by someone.

Or at the very minimum you think you are being judged by someone. And that someone is your audience. Maybe it’s your colleagues, maybe your clients or the people you’re trying to serve. But here’s where it gets interesting….

Have you stopped to think who exactly are you trying to teach, reach, serve or impress? I see two common things going wrong here:

1) You’re trying to cater to people ahead of your or

2) You fail to see that everyone is just as lost as you are

Let me elaborate. If you’re building something, don’t try to serve people who don’t need it. Serve those behind you. And if you’re at the top of anything, just about everyone else will readily admit they’re also just winging it and feel just as lost as you might. Talk to them, you’ll see!

So, think carefully who is the audience you are serving, and it’ll ease your anxiety instantly!

3 – Accomplishments

We are really good at dwelling in misfortune and forgetting everything great that’s going on. The same seems to happen with our achievements. You’ve come so far, and yet you tend to think about all the things that you haven’t achieved yet!

How about giving a little bit of credit to yourself? Have you stopped to think what everything amazing you’ve already done?

Here’s a concrete suggestion. Start a “credibility portfolio” where you store absolutely everything good that you’ve ever done or that anyone has said about you.

I kid you not, it’s perhaps the best portfolio you can build — by you and only for you. Here’s a screenshot from my Notion:

​Inside my little Credibility Portfolio I store wins from various different pursuits, from academia to generic compliments to testimonials of different products I’ve built or even just from pursuits like affiliate marketing.

Now, there’s a fine line between bragging and displaying competence, of course, but many of these are also useful when promoting yourself online.

And when I talk to my students, I try to do the same and teach them to store everything good they do or receive somewhere. Store it somewhere. Use it without shame. Eliminate the word “but” from your vocabulary when you talk about your accomplishments.

These things work.

Weave it into your days

Now, it’s easy to do this once.

It’s far more difficult to remember to do it when it matters. And that’s when you feel it the next time. As I always say, the key to unlocking the use of any of these tools is developing great self-awareness: To learn to catch and analyse your thoughts.

And the simplest way to do that is just practice.

Take toll of your days by journaling.

Over time, you’ll start to see the patterns disrupting you. And, just maybe, you’ll remember the AAA framework to revisit when you next time catch yourself having doubts about yourself!

Till next time!


About the author 

Simo Hosio  -  Simo is an award-winning scientist, Academy Research Fellow, research group leader, professor, and digital builder. This site exists to empower people to build passion projects that support professional growth and make money.

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