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IMPOSTER SYNDROME: How women in tourism can shake that 'undeserving' feeling

In a new feature on KARRYON, Travel Corporation CEO John Veitch (JV) shares his personal insights on industry trends and the power of travel.

In a new feature on KARRYON, Travel Corporation CEO John Veitch (JV) shares his personal insights on industry trends and the power of travel.

This month, with the issues going on in our world and the tribute to International Women’s Day – it got me thinking about making a difference, and TreadRight came to mind.

A not-for-profit foundation, joint initiative between our TTC family of brands, that has helped support some 40 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. In looking at those projects, it struck me how many inspiring women are leading the charge to make a difference.

Women in Tourism

I know we share the common goal and mission to make a difference. To do that, there are things we need to deal with, and changes to make – even if that makes us feel uncomfortable. In 1972 Georgia University identified the “Imposter Syndrome”. It’s when you’re sitting in a meeting and you feel like you don’t deserve to be there, that everybody knows more than you and how could your opinion matter. Your inner voice says – I’m a fraud and everyone is going to find out! It’s that feeling in the bottom of your stomach – you know the one, it happens to the best of us.


While both women and men experience it, research suggests that men tend to deal with it better. When I sit in a meeting and I’ve worked out that the smartest person in the room is the woman opposite me, and is the one I want to listen to. Too often I see imposter syndrome descend and I don’t get to hear her opinion or input. And then We all lose.

I’ve spoken with a number of women I greatly admire around the subject and I felt very privileged that they were comfortable to share with me some of their tips in overcoming Imposter Syndrome:


Being your best VS Being the best


You can achieve the first 100 percent of the time, you can never sustain the latter. You will never be the expert on all topics – if someone asks you a question you’re unsure of, let them know you’ll get back to them and give yourself time to figure it out.


Own your success

Reflect on the small successes as well as the big ones and the role you played. Write down your accomplishments to give a tangible boost to your self-belief.


Cease comparisons

It’s great to look for inspiration in others, but stop comparing yourself. Almost everyone will have learned their craft over time, they will have had moments of self-doubt and likely had to quell Imposter Syndrome time and again, until they are confident.


Be prepared


This is especially important for the main Imposter Syndrome battle zone – that Big Important Meeting.


Preparation builds confidence


If you’re prepared, thought about the issues, maybe had a pre-chat with somebody to see if you are aligned – you are set up to Be Your Best.

In reality – business, the sport field, and life can be tough. There are people out there that want to bring you down, beat your sales number, tackle you on the game line and beat you to the next promotion. You are not imagining it – it is true.


You have to get tough


The underlying response from all the inspirational women I spoke to was that they win that battle within themselves.  They recognise the Imposter Syndrome and then find ways to shelve it. You have to find YOUR way, because when we silence that inner voice telling us “we shouldn’t be here’, or “we can’t do this” – we are brave enough to share our ideas that can drive change – just like Celine Cousteau, TreadRight ambassador; or Petra Nemcova Co-founder of All Hands & Hearts, who continue to make a difference each day.

Be Brave! I am committed to equality in the workplace and the world, and I believe this will make a difference!

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What are some of your tips for women in tourism to shake imposter syndrome?