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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Chloe Ford’s True Story of Combatting Imposter Syndrome




Oftentimes, the biggest obstacle you’ll face in your career is… YOU. Especially if you’re a Black woman:


➡️ Feeling crippled by anxiety during your interview for that next, big role — even though you have the college degree; the work experience; and the track record of results.


➡️ Pushing and pushing yourself to prove to colleagues that YOU are the Black woman who is focused and driven and ambitious — as if no one looked at your resume before they hired you.


➡️ Flat ironing your hair, code switching, and hiding behind the stilted persona of professionalism — because surely the mold you’ve cemented together with ALL the opinions of who a Black career woman should be is better than the innate talents and gifts you were born with.


Sound familiar? Then you may be wrestling with imposter syndrome. And you’re not alone. I’ve struggled too. So has my dear friend and former client Chloe Ford. Discover how we combat it (and YOU can too!) now…


What Is Imposter Syndrome?


First things first — let’s define imposter syndrome:


Imposter syndrome is the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of your efforts and skills. High anxiety often accompanies such delusions of unworthiness.


How did imposter syndrome show up for Ford?


Ford’s Journey from Self-Doubt to Self-Confidence


Self-Doubt


Self-doubt started early in life for Ford. In fact, it started with her name:


“Your name is your reputation,” her father would always say.


Ford’s two older sisters upheld the family legacy, and Ford had her younger sister to set the example for. So she felt a lot of pressure to succeed and excel.


And excel she did. She earned her bachelor’s degree in textile and apparel management before overseeing operations at several retail locations. Then she stepped into the role that would change her career trajectory altogether: recruiting students to North Carolina State University's College of Textiles, where she helped increase the application rate by 40%.


Do you think ALL these accomplishments gave her confidence when she moved from North Carolina to New York City to work as a Campus Recruiter for JP Morgan?


Not at all.


Once in the big city, this “little Southern girl” thought she had to become someone else to make it. She worked even harder. She presented herself even more professionally. Because that’s what the archetypal ambitious Black woman does, right? And in the process — Ford lost touch with herself.


Self-Confidence


Then the pandemic hit and brought with it the time for introspection. Ford came to me to confront the fear she’d been brushing off up until then: that she was unworthy of her accolades, praise, and accomplishments.


To understand why, we started with an introspective deep dive I use called “The Peel Back.” I asked her to examine who she is outside of all her jobs and companies. Who is the REAL Chloe Ford? And what is the root of her feelings of unworthiness? What’s holding her back from showing up as her authentic self professionally — from knowing she’s ENOUGH just as she is?


And in the safe space we created together, Ford came to understand how her upbringing, life experiences, and the world’s perceptions of how Black women should act had contributed to her imposter syndrome.


Most importantly, she discovered the KEY to self-worth: it comes from within. YOU are worthy regardless of your accomplishments, accolades, and career.


Tools for Combatting Imposter Syndrome


The truth about imposter syndrome? You never fully conquer it.


Even after all the work Ford and I did together, self-doubt still creeps in: when she landed her current role as the Manager of Global Diversity Recruiting Programs & Partnerships at Bain & Company, and even before she joined me on LinkedIn Live to share her story.


And you know what? Imposter syndrome still gets me sometimes too. Just months ago, when my dream of receiving a paid board seat came true, I thought, “Me? Are you sure?”


Here are some of the tools we use to squash delusions of unworthiness:


✅ Stop your negative self-talk, and replace it with affirmations of your worthiness; for example, stop thinking, “I am weak and a victim of circumstance,” and tell yourself, “I am strong, and I PROTECT myself.”


✅ Stay present and aware, so you can view situations more objectively and logically, instead of through the lens of past traumas and failures.


✅ Embrace imperfection because imposter syndrome’s power derives from the myth that you can and should be perfect. Vulnerability is human — own it.


✅ Enforce your boundaries, so you feel safe showing up as your authentic self.


✅ Build your support system — coaches, therapists, family, friends — whoever can create the safe space you need for confronting the fears fueling your imposter syndrome.


Support Starts Here


Imposter syndrome can — and often does — dead end careers. And no matter how hard you work or how many degrees and awards you earn, you will never escape it without doing the tough, introspective work. Because self-worth is an inside job.


If you’re ready to Peel Back like Ford did, then I am here to support you. Book your 1-1 now.

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