Finally, you are going on your first date with the person you had the biggest crush on, or going to meet with your dream client, or give a sales pitch to potentially your biggest investor. You have worked so hard to get here and all of a sudden, your mind starts doubting and questioning you to the point you wish they would cancel on you because you think if they meet you, they are going to say “who do you think you are!”. You start thinking that not only will they be disappointed to have met you, but also they will make you feel like a loser as you reach out of your league.
If that’s the case for you, know that you are not alone! I would like to welcome you to the club of people with Imposter Syndrome.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
According to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioural Science, an estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives. Impostor syndrome affects all kinds of people from all parts of life: women, men, medical students, marketing managers, actors and executives.
While there’s no single answer for the cause of imposter syndrome, I believe there are ways we can use it to our own benefit. Below are at least 3 benefits:
- Almost everyone will experience anxiety or may lose confidence at times. While high anxiety and low confidence can’t be pleasant feelings, they often keep us on our toes and sometimes enhance our performance. Channeling the focus and energy of imposter syndrome, can lead to even stronger confidence after all. The trick is to stop making it about yourself and instead to become curious about the situation and the people you are dealing with (your date, investor, or client). This shift of perspective allows us to get to know them better and understand what they need so that by fulfilling those needs, we can provide more value.
- It kind of forces us to perform better. “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” — Robert Hughes, Confidence is highly overrated when it comes to innovation. Those who are overly confident will not engage in the struggle to get their idea exactly right on the page — but rather, will assume that they got it right without the struggle.
- Challenging imposter syndrome, we become courageous to bring out our highest creativity because we have to move past the epic fear we all face, and do it anyway. At least we can hone on our skill to overcome fear of failure (Check my other post about fear of failure)
Maybe next time we experience imposter syndrome, lack of self-esteem, fear of failure, or any other form of self-doubt, you may consider it as an opportunity to bring more value to the table, the stress that you feel can be put in use to achieve better results.
p.s I had an awesome conversation about it with my dear friend who is also an amazing coach, Reza Rahmani. He shared great techniques to help overcome Imposter Syndrome. You can watch our chat here: