Recently the \u2018Me Too\u2019 movement showed the power of speech in bringing social change.\nMy fear of what others will think often prevents me from speaking up in a meeting or at a conference. I become anxious, afraid that my qualifications are insufficient, and that people will think less of me.\nThis has been dubbed \u2018impostor syndrome\u2019 which even effects celebrities including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz causing them to question their competencies. 70% of people suffer in silence, afraid that they won\u2019t measure up.\nWhile I know my insecurity does not show to others. I find myself trying to silence the voice inside my head that questions my credentials. Surprisingly, I discovered that the more I speak-up the easier it becomes. And the faster I act, the easier it is. By acting quickly you prevent yourself from overthinking. Once I found my voice, I was amazed by my power to help others. \n My self-discovery\nI have always been an over achiever, with a burning desire to \u2018win.\u2019\nI recently discovered that this need to succeed was fueled by my insecurity. I spent a lifetime of comparing myself against colleagues and falling short of my expectations. (Surprisingly, years later I learned that they remembered and admired my accomplishments). I push myself harder because I feel \u2018I should know more\u2019 and to show value I need to do more.\nPart of the problem is that I constantly need to prove my worth. I attribute my success to chance (rather than skill) and see my peers as possessing skills. I am a classic case study for impostor syndrome, fearing failure, wanting to be perfect or procrastinating. I look for external validation.\nI am learning to recalibrate, appreciate what I can realistically accomplish and recognize my abilities. Instead of fearing mistakes, I try to see them as opportunities to learn, and fail fast.\nThe impostor syndrome effects men and women equally, but because women are more verbal than men they discuss it more.\nFour common ways this may affect you and some suggestions for how to address them:\n1. Eliminate doubt\nOnce you plant internal doubt it can grow in proportion. I suggest silencing the \u2018little voice\u2019 inside your head, reframe challenges into opportunities, and convert the negative energy into excitement.\n2. Embrace opportunities\nLack of confidence can prevent women from career advancement. Women don't apply for jobs unless they have 100% of the qualifications while men apply when they only have 60% of the qualifications. When asked why they did not apply for a position 78% of women responded that they did not want to fail because they did not have all the qualifications. Take a chance and apply, you might be missing an amazing opportunity. Think of the expression nothing ventured, nothing gained.\n3. Don\u2019t be a super-woman\u2026\n\u2026taking on too much which is the recipe for failure. Set realistic expectations about what you can accomplish, ask for help, and adjust priorities. Don\u2019t try to juggle work, family and community and be exceptional at everything. (Remember to find time for yourself).\n4. Look at failure as an opportunity to learn and grow\nBy trying to avoid mistakes, you add stress, and this can lead to becoming a micromanager. Taking too much control may cause people around you to disengage or be reluctant to offer suggestions. Instead ask for advice, be open to different approaches, share responsibility and encourage collaboration. And if you make a mistake, learn from it.\nOvercoming impostor syndrome allows you to recognize your expertise, embrace what you do well and remember that no one is perfect. This is the first step in forming a positive self-image and realizing your potential. It is license to speak up and be heard.\nExpressing yourself publicly can be a stressor. Speaking up may get you noticed, which can be advantageous at work, while being silent implies agreement. Men speak 75% of the time at meetings because women may not find their voice right away. But after one woman speaks-up more women will follow. At conferences men are 2 1\/2 times more likely to speak up. Women hesitate to speak because they do not have \u2018the nerve\u2019 or feel they lack the knowledge.\nSurprisingly, men ask questions to be noticed (they try to sound loud and confident). Speaking up is a skill, and it becomes easier the more you do it. If you don\u2019t speak up, you will remain in the shadows and be overlooked. Here are four ways to help find your voice:\n\nWomen find it is easier to speak up to advocate for others, especially on behalf of children (this is referred to as being a Mama Bear). Find a friend and each become an advocate for the other. This has been proven effective and can open doors or share strengths which might otherwise be overlooked.\nTo avoid feeling like an impostor begin by asking a clarifying question. This confirms understanding and is a safe way to enter a conversation. Women who ask hard questions can be seen negatively, but this approach is self-assured and respectful.\nDon\u2019t underestimate the value of your contribution (thinking that someone must have already considered this) or spending so much time thinking about the consequences that you miss the opportunity. Don\u2019t sell yourself short. Likely there are others also pondering similar thoughts.\nFind your passion. Your manner changes when you speak about a topic you are passionate about. You lean-in, your eyes sparkle and you smile more, and you speak with authority. This makes people sit back and take notice. And the more you speak, the greater your confidence. Use this as a strategy to begin conversations.\n\nDiscover the power of your voice. Test it out in a safe environment and keep pushing the limits. You may surprise yourself with the reception you receive. I get butterflies in my stomach before speaking in public, but I have learned to enjoy the excitement and the nervous energy. Push yourself and the results may amaze you, and you will become a role model for other women, giving them the power to find their voice and be recognized.