Impostor syndrome is becomingly increasingly prevalent in the workplace. From the lowliest intern to the most proud CEO, feeling like a fraud is inherent to humans – regardless of our success. The number one mistake people make is dwelling on these feelings and, even worse, going about their lives assuming that they are frauds. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The syndrome was documented back in 1978 and is described as “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud'”.
Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another. However, with the scarcity of jobs – more young people are feeling like frauds nowadays more than ever.
Let’s not dwell on why we often feel like big fakes but rather how we overcome this feeling of inadequacy.
1. Focus on your output
Impostor Syndrome feels a lot more real if you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself. Try and divert your attention onto someone else. If you’re helping them out or contributing value to something that isn’t yourself, that’s incredibly authentic.
2. Make yourself incomparable
This doesn’t mean ‘work so hard that no-one can compare themselves to you’ but rather ‘abstract yourself from the pecking order of success’. You’ll probably never be as successful as Mark Zuckerberg but Mark will never be as successful as Stephen Hawking etc etc. Just be the best you you can be.
3. Diagnose yourself
Stop saying ‘I feel this way because’ and say ‘It’s just Impostor Syndrome’. This is a psychologically verifiable condition – don’t be embraced to just call it what it is.
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4. Being wrong doesn’t make you a fraud
Everyone is wrong. It’s one of the fundamentals of being a human being. It’s not about how often youre right or wrong or even who noticed – it’s all about how you deal with failure. The best basketball players miss most of the shots they take but they take a hell of a lot of shots.
5. Authenticity is a lie
Authenticity is meaningless. We change the way we present information so constantly that, when you think about it, suggesting that there’s one ideal way of existing that’s totally true and righteous is complete nonsense. There is no true self, humans are too interesting for that.
6. No-one knows what they’re doing
Part of what makes Impostor Syndrome so common is the belief that everyone around you has it all figured out. This is absolutely not true.
7. Fake it ’till you make it
So you might think you’re a fraud? Run with it! If you pretend you know what you’re doing for long enough, you’ll eventually find yourself actually knowing. Life is funny that way.