How to deal with IMPOSTOR SYNDROME at work


You are not alone in needing to learn how to deal with IMPOSTOR SYNDROME at work. Believe me! Statistically 70% of people admit to experiences of Impostor Syndrome. In this video I explain what this is and how to deal with it.

Another useful video for you may be: Learning How To Deal With Failure At Work as seeing it as a positive often takes a change of mindset. (This link will open in a new tab, for your convenience).



How To Deal With IMPOSTOR SYNDROME At work – script

It was a segment during a recent LinkedIn session that has inspired me to do this video about Impostor Syndrome. Five of their leaders took a courageous step to talk in front of the entire organization that they work within to talk about their experiences of Imposter Syndrome through their career. It was profound, emotional and really helpful for all of us to realise it is not just us!

It turns out that statistically 70% of people admit to experiencing imposter syndrome. I have worked with about 6000 people and I think the percentage is much higher than that. Most people I’ve met at some point in their career have experienced it and this session at LinkedIn has inspired me to think about my own career. There has been lots of occasions, but one particularly stood out.

When I first started working as an Executive Coach, it was my first day… A week before I had been leading a team in part of an organization that sold computers. I’d been there for 15 years (in the industry for 20). It wasn’t really that interesting, but it was fun and we made some money. However, I wasn’t really changing the world and now I was stood with 20 of ‘the children of gold’ in a defence organization – the people who were going to go on to be the Executives and go on to run the company in the future. Our responsibility was to go on and coach these people.

I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I literally wanted to run outside, get in the car and drive for 5 hours all the way back home from the Lake District. I grew up in a working class neighbourhood, had a very average education and went into sales. One of the people I was coaching had his finger on the nuclear arsenal of the UK, another had Captained in two submarines, there were rocket scientists, most of them had multiple PhDs. So, I’m like ‘What the hell can I do to help these people?’ and it felt awful.

Quickly (fortunately) I realised that although they had lots of IQ they didn’t have much emotional intelligence (EQ). It turns out I have lots and suddenly I could see the value that I could add. It took time but the feeling of Imposter Syndrome started to wear off. But, I’ll never forget it.

So what is Imposter Syndrome? Some of you describe it as feeling like a fraud, like they are not worthy, they feel like they’ve been lucky, kind of like serendipity as if their career successes have been because they have been at the right place at the right time.

Often people who are prone to it are people with low self-esteem, people who lack confidence or belief in themselves, people who have become perfectionists. And it often come from our parents, right? It can come from the way we were nurtured: Parents that were overly negative (you’re not good enough, B’s are not enough, you need an A+ on everything that you do); People who were told they were perfect by their parents (everything they did was wonderful) and they feel like they have to live up to that.

But they are not always perfect and they see that in themselves. Somehow they feel they still have to live up to it and can often become control freaks – because they want everything to become perfect – and they want to get onto the next mountain.

If you feel this at any point, you’re not alone. I could almost guarantee to you that if you start talking to somebody about Impostor Syndrome and your experience, you’re going to be talking to somebody who has experienced it for themselves. They are suddenly going to tell you their story – and that’s an opportunity.

Some of you who feel like a fraud or feel like you are going to get found out, you turn to hard work and try to be superheroes, working 12/18 hours a day, trying to compensate for that insecurity by working really hard.

I have met a lot of ‘expert’ folk – they are an expert in something such as engineering or something else technical. But they never really believe that they are, they always believe that they have got to be as good as the very best person, that there is always more to learn and that they don’t know enough. Even though everyone else tells them they’re incredible – they don’t believe them because they haven’t read the latest white paper.

I think the way the impostor syndrome impacts people is that when they are going through it, they take a lot less risks, they are less courageous, with less confidence and swagger. They often measure themselves on the outside, what do other people think and what do other people say?

I would ask you to start to measure yourself on the inside. If you start to talk about it, it starts to normalize it and starts to become less of a big thing as you start to hear everyone else’s stories. Surround yourself with people and structure for feedback, authentic and specific feedback that can show you what you’re doing is good.

People with impostor syndrome push it away. I can’t tell you how many people over the last few weeks who I’ve given positive feedback to and they kind of cringed and got hot and flustered, told me I am wrong and that they are not that good. You need to start to let them in and feel that oxycontin. Just allow yourself to be a working progress, you don’t have to be a finished article.

I want to see you celebrate, see you smile and enjoy it!

I’d love to hear your stories on Impostor Syndrome. Let us know in the comments below!


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