Could you be suffering from imposter syndrome?
Have you ever felt that you don’t know as much as you SHOULD about running your business / managing your team?
Do you worry that colleagues know more than you / are better than you?
Perhaps you suffer from a low level anxiety that someone will find you out, and realise you are out of your depth?
If you do – don’t worry you are not alone – up to 70% of women – and a lot of men also – feel the same.
It is a “Thing”. It’s called Imposter syndrome and this phrase was first coined in the 70’s when the first women managed to put small dents in the ‘glass ceiling’, though it is thought to affect as many men as women.
Wikipedia states that Imposter Syndrome describes “people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
The reason for its prevalence among high performing / achieving is that women are not – (certainly not in the 70’s) raised with an expectation of success. They were – and often still are – raised to be ‘feminine’ – success is nice not a pre-requisite. Men on the other hand were raised to be successful – they do not fear success in the main, but fear failure.
It starts with how we praise girls and boys. Girls are more often praised for being ‘nice’, being polite, playing quietly, collaborating, helping. Boys are praised for jumping off tall things they had no business being on in the first place, “trying”, winning.
One of the most annoying aspects of Imposter Syndrome is that those who really are frauds don’t feel it ! “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt,” said Bertrand Russell.
So – if you are feeling like this what do you do about it?
3 first steps to take.
Well, recognising it is the first step. Another important step is to accept compliments. Do you know how rude it can sound to negate compliments. It’s like saying – you are lying. Just smile, say thanks and allow yourself to internally accept the compliment. Thirdly – have
a really objective look at the people you are comparing yourself to. Are they really better than you – or is that just your perception?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of tips for handling Imposter Syndrome (interesting initials!) but try to always remember – you are not a fraud – you are just YOU.