We all probably feel this at some point in time – the work that we do is not good enough, perhaps we don’t belong in or deserve our professional position, or from a more complex viewpoint, feeling like we will be exposed as a ‘fraud’ or that others will start to realise our shortcomings.

Such thoughts and concerns are typically clubbed under Imposter Syndrome, or IS, which can affect even the most confident-appearing people. Approximately 70% of us will suffer from it at some point in our life, according to Dr. Pauline R. Clance, who first studied it back in 1978.


The Expert: You expect to know everything and feel ashamed when you don’t

  1. Compare like for like: Avoid unequal comparisons with people who have more experience in a role, as it’s natural that they know more.
  2. Remind yourself that there is no gender of racial competencies necessary for your tasks: Recognise that you have the skills even if you don’t feel you ‘fit’.
  3. Mentor junior colleagues or volunteer: Your experience and knowledge will be useful to those further down the ladder.

The Soloist: You believe work must be accomplished alone and refuse to take credit if you received any kind of assistance.

Imposter Syndrome 3

The Natural Genius: You tell yourself that everything must be handled with ease, otherwise it’s not ‘natural talent’

  1. Appreciate that great achievements require lifelong learning: Natural ability is only the seed of success and will not amount to much without a strong work ethic.
  2. Identify specific skills that you can improve over time: Admit that you should work on specific skills to ensure that you continue building on your talent.
  3. Break tasks into smaller, more achievable chunks: A major task taken as one block can seem insurmountable.

The Superwoman/Man: You feel you should be able to excel at every role you take on in your life

  1. Reframe failure as a learning opportunity: Use failures as an opportunity to discover how to improve rather than a reason to be hard on yourself.
  2. Seek out an experienced mentor: Share your feelings with someone who has experienced it to see how they overcame it.
  3. Remind yourself that constructive criticism is not personal: Take it as an opportunity to grow rather than an implication that you’re not good enough.

The Perfectionist: You set impossibly high standards for yourself and beat yourself up when you don’t reach them

Imposter Syndrome 1

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