The Vaccine For Impostor Syndrome

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The ‘Impostor Syndrome’ label was first coined back in 1978. It is defined as having fooled other people into overestimating their ability or that there is a nagging fear that we will be exposed as frauds. It is estimated that 75% of us struggle with the syndrome, but yet it is often called the “Secret Syndrome” because the thought of admission brings about fear and shame.

As I was reflecting on the syndrome, I wondered if the very fact that this lives in secret is what gives it power. As leaders, we are often tempted to believe that we must have all the answers, know the path and demonstrate absolute clarity 100% of the time. Yet, in actuality, we do not trust those that demonstrate perfection. Research suggests that we are actually more drawn to those that do not have it all together and struggle. What if you were to bring this secret syndrome into the light with your team and have an honest conversation about what triggers the impostor in you. There is a good chance that others on your team feel the same way.

There are six sub types of Impostor Syndrome – the Perfectionist, the Natural Genius, the Superwoman/Superman, the Expert and the Soloist. These sub types can emerge when we are triggered or anxious and Impostor Syndrome knows no gender. This is a syndrome of pandemic proportions.

If your goal is to conquer the syndrome, you may become discouraged. Your goal instead should be a healthy & honest mindset. The mindset on growth, learning and strengthening thoughts. Be mindful of your stress maintaining thoughts and your stress mitigating thoughts as you navigate impostor syndrome. The Pivotal Leader clarifies their stress mitigating and empowering thoughts.

Here are three you ought to consider –

  1. All that you have experienced, accomplished and learned has brought you to this moment
  2. Lead from who you are – honestly
  3. Just because the outcome is uncertain does not mean the outcome will be bad or poor