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Imposter Syndrome: Springboard to Success

July 22, 2023

Do you feel everyone else is better than you? Stressed out or worried someone is going to find out that you’re a “fraud”? Not as good as people think you are? That others have an over-inflated opinion of you?

If so, you might be experiencing what psychologists call Imposter Syndrome. This pervasive and common phenomenon affects countless individuals across different walks of life, hindering their ability to acknowledge their accomplishments and talents. We review what Imposter Syndrome is, who may be affected, typical symptoms, potential benefits, and some ideas to combat it.

The “Imposter phenomenon” was identified by psychologists Pauline R.Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978, is a psychological pattern wherein individuals doubt their own abilities and fear being exposed as incompetent or undeserving of their achievements. The original study was about high achieving women. Now called “Imposter Syndrome” it actually transcends boundaries of age, gender, and profession, affecting high achievers as well as experienced professionals. Those most vulnerable are often perfectionists, people with low self-esteem, or those experiencing significant life transitions.

Symptoms may include consistent self-doubt, an inability to fully acknowledge your accomplishments, fear of failure, a negative life-script, enlarging perceptions of failings, attributing success to luck or being in the right place at the right time rather than competence, and an excessive need for validation from others. These feelings can lead to stress, anxiety, and a reluctance to pursue new opportunities for fear of being discovered as a “fraud”.

While the effects are generally negative, there can be a few benefits. Imposter Syndrome may serve as a driving force to continuously improve and push boundaries. However in the longer term, there can be adverse mental health consequences and self-esteem issues outweighing these temporary motivational gains.

Even the most accomplished individuals such as Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, tech innovators like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Nobel laureates like the often quoted Maya Angelou have openly admitted to feelings of inadequacy.

To combat Imposter Syndrome it is essential to cultivate self-awareness. Recognize the achievements you will have already had in life. No one is perfect and making mistakes can be part of learning. Everyone’s journey is unique. Remember that success often comes with imperfect initial results and that even the most accomplished individuals go through times which initially seem like setbacks.

Often, standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it. How do your three closest allies regard you? If you were being as kind about yourself as they are about you, what would you be saying about yourself right now?

In conclusion, Imposter Syndrome is a common seemingly formidable challenge that if left unaddressed, can hinder personal and professional growth for years. However it is possible to overcome these feelings of self-doubt and claim your worth. We come across these situations time and time again when coaching executives.

Remember, you are not the only one to have experienced these kinds of feelings. At Pettingill Consulting we help executives, business owners, lawyers and other professionals overcome their Imposter Syndrome as part of their growth and personal development journey.

So, what’s next for you? Will you harness your inner imposter for good? Or, will you look back and say: “what if”?

For professional coaching support to help you, your team or your business to go further faster, get in touch for a free initial consultation.

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