Are you about to be found out?
How did you get your job?
Can’t they tell you’re not really ‘at that level’?
There are so many other people out there who know more / have more experience / are better…
When is someone going to work out they’ve made a mistake?
Sound familiar? If so, you might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome. I know, isn’t it a relief to know there’s a name for it? It also means you’re not the only one telling yourself that story. The fact is, even (especially?) at the most senior levels, across industries, many highly successful people are just a little bit amazed no one has discovered they are a fraud.
The term was coined in 1978. These days, with gender equality such a strong focus, it’s often used as a possible explanation about what holds back high-achieving women, but it’s definitely not gender specific. In our work with clients, especially in coaching sessions when people are are alone and thus more candid, it is simply gobsmacking how many people experience this. Having said that, our client base will be more likely to suffer from it than the broader population as it’s more common among high achievers (and you’re a clever bunch). It actually stems from genuine humility, which is a good thing, although unchecked it can be debilitating.
So, how to deal with it if you have it? The good news is, simply knowing its name puts it in perspective and goes some of the way to lessening its power. These are some other practical measures you can take:
- Write down the script you play in your head when your imposter syndrome is in full flight. Read over it and marvel at how silly and self-important it sounds. What would you say to your best friend if they said this? What evidence is there that the opposite is true? Write that down and make it your new script.
- Keep a file of good feedback to revisit when you need a strong dose of self-belief. Ask yourself: could all these people really be wrong?
- Read this: Everyone’s just totally winging it, all the time. This article has strong therapeutic value, highlighting the heart of the issue saying “one of the biggest causes of misery is the way we chronically compare our insides to other people’s outsides”. Which basically means that everyone thinks you’re amazing because they can’t tell on the inside you think you’re a fraud.
And if all else fails, check out a google search of ‘famous people with imposter syndrome‘. You’re in fine company.
THIS WEEK IF YOU…
… watch one thing, make it this video decoding common email phrases.
And that’s a wrap, thanks for reading.
Til next time, Vibers.