9 Ways To Combat Imposter Syndrome For Peak Performance


This January marks Inman’s fifth annual Agent Appreciation Month, which culminates at Inman Connect New York in a celebration of agents at the end of January. Plus, we’re rolling out the coveted Inman Power Player Awards, as well as the New York Power Brokers and MLS Innovators awards.

Have you ever found yourself doubting your skillset and expertise as a real estate agent? Maybe you’ve been a real estate agent for decades.  Maybe you are someone in your community who has a reputable name for yourself. Maybe you are a new agent trying to build a new business. Maybe you are somewhere in between.

The real estate industry is changing so quickly that you may feel out of touch with new technologies, market trends and commission battles and you may begin to question why you chose this career. Self-doubt creeps in, and you question if you have what it takes to evolve along with real estate. 

Have you ever questioned if perhaps you were not made for this profession? Have you ever told yourself you’re not good enough? Have you ever felt like a fraud? Then you’ve wrestled with imposter syndrome, and you are not alone. 

Defining ‘imposter’

“Imposter syndrome” is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” Psychology Today states that people who struggle with imposter syndrome feel they don’t deserve their achievements.

Bottom line, imposter syndrome involves feeling like your “luck” drives your results instead of your experience and expertise, feeling like the other shoe is going to drop and you’ll be found out as a fraud. Imposter syndrome is pervasive and common and impacts many different areas of people’s lives.

In fact, according to the American Psychological Association article “How to Overcome Impostor Phenomenon,” up to 82 percent of people face feelings of impostor phenomenon.

While common, there are tools, strategies and mindset shifts that can help you manage (and, perhaps, overcome) these limitations. When you do, you gain the strength you need to increase your confidence, become the best version of yourself and not only succeed but enjoy your business.

Picture these scenarios

The newer agent

You are an agent who started your career in real estate during the pandemic. You have a couple of years under your belt but haven’t mastered your skills.

Imposter syndrome looks like fearing that you will be exposed as less competent than the seasoned agent, and perhaps you won’t measure up.

Or maybe you transitioned in your real estate career from operations and support to agent. As Beth Wheeler shared, “A few weeks after having my second child, I found myself needing to switch gears in my career. I went from managing real estate operations to selling real estate full-time. While I have nearly 10 years of experience in this industry and have worked with hundreds of clients, I found myself struggling with severe impostor syndrome.”

The successful agent

You are an agent who has been in real estate for a while now. You have a strong track record of successful sales. You go into a listing appointment, and as you are interviewing the sellers, you feel a strong wave of self-doubt come over you as they share with you who else they are interviewing for the job, and you hear the names of two agents who are the top performers in your community.

Despite a successful career, experience and a proven record, a wave of deep doubt washes over you as you hear the names of your competitors. Imposter syndrome looks like questioning your abilities and your competence even though you have a successful career. 

The seasoned agent

You’ve been a real estate agent for decades. You are someone in your community who has a reputable name for yourself. But because the real estate industry is changing so quickly, you feel out of touch with new technologies, and you question whether or not you can adapt to this new level of tech. 

Kristen Abell, consistently ranked in the Top 100 of agents of Denver, states, “Even those of us who have been in this industry long enough have experienced it in some form or fashion. When I’m feeling nervous, inadequate or not good enough, I can name it as ‘imposter syndrome’ and create a shift.”

Real estate agents can experience imposter syndrome at different times in their careers. Here are some of the causes:

  • By constantly comparing oneself to more successful or experienced peers
  • Through setting unrealistic standards for yourself and then not being about to meet them
  • When navigating market fluctuation and facing unfamiliar situations in the real estate market 
  • When dealing with difficult clients 
  • After an influx of new competition

The list goes on.

Get into gear

How can you build confidence and resilience to ultimately counter Imposter Syndrome? We have some strategies to help:

Be honest with yourself and recognize your feelings

A first step towards overcoming imposter syndrome is being honest about your feelings. A natural part of a real estate career is allowing yourself to have occasional doubts and fears. By recognizing this, you can proactively address areas for growth, build resilience and ultimately flourish in the real estate industry and your career.

Build a supportive community of real estate friends

Real estate can be lonely. If you take the time to network, engage, share experiences and learn from your colleagues, you will see that you are not alone and that many others can relate to what you are going through. This will help you gain your confidence back. 

Continue learning

Building confidence requires that you continue to learn and grow. Make sure that you are staying informed on industry trends locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Attend workshops and seminars that will allow you to take your skills to the next level.

Make sure you are attending continuing education and legal updates offered. Focus on learning and understanding new technology as it rolls out. Expanding knowledge is a powerful tool that can help reduce feelings of lack.

Engage in positive self-talk and affirmations

When you can cultivate a supportive inner dialogue with yourself and shift your mindset to adopt an affirming narrative, you can help neutralize feelings of inadequacy. It’s essential to be compassionate and kind to yourself, recognizing that everyone faces moments of doubt.

Allow yourself to speak positively to yourself and watch how this can fuel your confidence and empower you with a renewed sense of inner strength.

Review your accomplishments

Write down your skills, expertise, training, successes and accomplishments from every facet of life. Track your wins, large and small, on a weekly basis. This is an immediate confidence booster. Long-term data set to bring you back to reality and out of the negative self-talk in your head.

Let go of comparison and focus on bettering yourself

Stay in your own lane. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, we all know that comparison is the thief of joy. May we remind you again here. 

Reframe your inner monologue

Shift that inner monologue from you’re not deserving and you’re a fraud to you are deserving, and you are an expert based on all the data that you’re gathering as you review your accomplishments consistently.

Hire a coach

Engaging a coach’s services can be a helpful strategy for real estate agents experiencing imposter syndrome. A coach will provide you with a valuable outside perspective,  fresh and new insights and constructive feedback that you may not be able to see.

A coach can also be a safe and confidential space for you to candidly address your insecurities. A coach will collaborate with you, help you set and achieve goals and hold you accountable, all while guiding you to foster your strengths and address your weaknesses.

Practice grace and acceptance

Imposter syndrome is rough. It undermines our efforts and robs us of our confidence and joy. Imposter syndrome undercuts our expertise, experience and brilliance. Don’t add to the mix by beating yourself up and shaming yourself.

Offer yourself grace and acceptance. This helps neutralize that negative self-talk and the imposter syndrome gremlin in your head. It’s kind. You’re human. This is a process, and you’re doing great.

Triumphing over imposter syndrome is possible. By applying these nine strategies consistently, real estate agents can not only manage self-doubt but also improve long-term confidence and ultimately live a more fulfilled and successful life.

Melanie C. Klein, M.A. and Emily Bossert are two highly sought-after coaches known for empowering individuals and teams to achieve their full potential and success. Klein has written and contributed to over nine books on empowerment, personal transformation and cultivating resilience. Bossert is a highly regarded real estate sales manager and co-hosts The 6AMers. Together, they co-coach a 90-day group coaching program offering over 52 years of experience at the intersection of mindfulness, embodiment, conscious leadership and entrepreneurship.


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