The Imposter Syndrome: What is it and how can you get over it?

I spoke at a round table event recently and the topic of The Imposter Syndrome came up. The Imposter Syndrome is a well-known phenomenon affecting people in professional services. It is the fear of being found out. I.e. you worry that a client will turn around to you and go (or something like this)

You don’t know your stuff, do you?

I recorded a short video recently about the imposter Syndrome and why it often holds women back more than men in business.

The Imposter Syndrome: What is it and how can you get over it?

Video Transcript of The Imposter Syndrome

I was speaking last night at a lovely round table event organized by Lisette Dupre of Dawson Cornwall and Heather Williams of Lancaster, Knox. And we were talking about career progression, particularly for women in the professions. And one of the questions came up was how do you get over the imposter syndrome?

It’s widely acknowledged, two things: that anyone in the profession has the imposter syndrome, which is where you’re always worried that somebody’s going to find you out. That you’re going to get that challenging question, someone’s going to go, “You don’t know your stuff, off you go.”

The second thing is, about this imposter syndrome, that it’s acknowledge that women often get it more than men and it holds them back. They say for a job or a project or assignment if a man can tick three or four of the boxes out of 10, he’ll go for it. Whereas, if women can tick to eight, she probably won’t. And nine, she maybe even won’t. And I was asked how do you get over that?

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that, because we’re programmed that way. But I did talk, this little story, and I’m going to share it with you now. It’s that we’ve evolved from times where the biggest fear we had was a saber-toothed tiger around the corner. And we got very good at avoiding saber-toothed tigers, and we were very attuned to, “Well, there was one there around that corner the last time, let’s be really careful about it.”

And so our brain is tricked into always thinking the worst because we’re worried about that saber-toothed tiger. But we’re not now in a time of saber-toothed tiger. But our brains still think we are; they’re still looking for that saber-toothed tiger, but in a modern day sense, that’s that, “Oh, well that conversation didn’t go well,” file it in the don’t do it again type stuff.

And actually, there’s a saying, which I completely believe, that nothing ever good came out of staying in your comfort zone. You can’t move your career forward. You can’t develop if you’re in your comfort zone. The problem is that we’ve evolved to worry about the slightest thing and that saber-toothed tiger, which puts us firmly always in our comfort zone.

So, my biggest tip is that if you’re worried the imposter syndrome, is actually feel the fear, because what the fear means is I’m going outside of my comfort zone. And I actually think, tune into that fear, and actually, your whole body is trying to escape that saber-toothed tiger at that moment, and it’s saying, “Get back into your comfort zone; don’t do it.” And I say do the opposite.

Challenge that saber-toothed tiger. Go out out of your comfort zone. Feel fear and almost, if you’re feeling fear, that’s what you should be doing right now. That’s where you should be going. That’s the biggest point of success. So this little video is dedicated to all the lovely ladies that were there last night and I hope to speak to you soon.

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