Do you ever get the feeling that you don’t belong in your job? That you don’t have the relevant skills? Do you attribute your success to luck? Do you fear that you will be exposed as a “fraud”? Don’t worry, these are completely normal feelings and you are not alone. 7 out of 10 people experience the exact same thing throughout their lifetimes, it’s called the Imposter Syndrome, a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes.
I know what you might be thinking; of course, this doesn’t apply to very successful people in senior positions. Well that isn’t true. It is universally applicable. Imposter Syndrome doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability – it knows no boundaries. Anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalise their success.
These intense feelings of self-doubt and fraudulence can permeate throughout all aspects of life – personal or professional, although it’s most frequently in the latter. Often skilled people struggling with Imposter Syndrome, believe everyone else is more accomplished and deserving of accolades. We live in a world where everything and everyone are comparable, and this has only been amplified by the ever-rising pressure of social media. However, what many people may neglect to realise is that we are all human, we all have our own personal struggles, challenges in our careers, and we learn in different ways. We need to dismiss these feelings that other people are better than us, as we don’t know how they got there and what they faced along the way.
These negative feelings are debilitating as they can prevent people from taking opportunities, sharing great ideas and stop them applying for roles which they could excel at.
Don’t doubt yourself or your value, you are talented, you are capable, you can do this, you belong, don’t let Imposter Syndrome define you!
I hadn’t heard about the Imposter Syndrome until recently and the revelation was a huge relief. I used to think it was just me. I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I used to have with my sister, telling her I was a ‘fraud’, and that someone would eventually catch me out.
It all started when I became a publican at the age of 22, I set up a limited company with my colleague, 10 years my senior and took over the franchise of a gastro pub in Hove. I had lots of experience working in bars and restaurants at a management level, even though I was only 22, but I was convinced the only reason we won the franchise over everyone else was because of my colleague’s experience and accomplishments. Imagine my horror, when a year down the line she wanted to leave and try her hand at something else. I was surrounded by dread, fear and anxiety at the prospect of going it alone. How could this work with just me taking the helm? Because of course our success was a result of her talents and abilities and not my own.
However, my fear was misplaced. The business continued to thrive and became more profitable. The subsequent period saw a 50% increase in revenue year on year even through the recession.
It’s funny, even though I could see the pub was more successful I still had these feelings that it was just luck, that I wasn’t good enough and I needed to accomplish more to really prove my worth. My crisis of confidence was because I was proud, I loved my job and I was afraid someone would take it away.
In the end, after 7 years of working in hospitality, I too wanted a change. So, I owned it. I learnt Portuguese, moved to Brazil, worked during the Olympics (which was a goal I had set myself 2 years prior), worked with Carnival projects and started my career in marketing. Since then, I’ve never looked back (well maybe a few times).
Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, David Bowie and Katarina Johnson-Thompson are all people that have also felt the feelings of insecurity/self-doubt that are derived from Imposter Syndrome. You can read about Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s Journey from Imposter Syndrome to World Champion here.
We can all face Barriers, Bias and Beliefs in our working life which can hold us back or hinder our ability to make progress in doing work that is meaningful and fulfilling. We need to try and recognise these feelings and own them, harness them and change them into a force for good.
At Glassmoon we are developing a way to enable people to embrace their multiple identities to be themselves and be inclusive. We recognise it is not just Culture that matters, Context matters too. To find out more information please click here to get in contact.
Look out for our next post to obtain tips on how to overcome Imposter Syndrome.