If you’ve never heard of imposter syndrome, you must be living under a rock.
The term was first coined in 1978 during research on high achieving women to describe the women’s feeling of having “conned” their way to success and their fear of being “found out.”
Today, it has almost become synonymous with feeling inadequate or not good enough in a given situation, usually professional. Simply put, imposter syndrome makes people feel they don’t deserve to be where they are even though, in fact, they do.
The fact that it is something now well known and spoken about in mainstream media has helped thousands of people, especially high achieving women, recognise when they are experiencing imposter syndrome. By extension, it has, and continues to, encourage women who suffer from imposter syndrome to find tools to beat it.
The problem(s) with imposter syndrome
The fact that imposter syndrome has become so mainstream comes with its own set of problems, however.
The first problem is that it is often wrongly used to label stress or a lack of confidence, both of which are entirely normal in new, challenging situations.
It’s not rare to hear women in the work environment say something along the lines “my imposter syndrome is kicking in,” when they feel anxious about an upcoming presentation or when they’re about to meet with someone important. I’ve said it myself multiple times.
However, it’s not because you feel stressed or because you lack confidence that you’re experiencing imposter syndrome. It helps to see the difference.
The second problem with imposter syndrome is that it suggests that the issue is necessarily within the person experiencing it when, more often than not, it is the result of an unsupportive and non-inclusive work environment.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Burey and Tulshyan argue that “imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests.” In other words, “Imposter syndrome directs our view towards fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”
Is imposter syndrome your friend?
So what should we do with the concept of imposter syndrome?
Should we continue to fight it? Or should we learn to use it?
To find out, I’d like to invite you to a session with Marie Dancer, the founder of AuthentiCareer, who will tell you why “Imposter syndrome is your friend.”
Marie is a passionate leadership coach who supports managers and high achievers in their careers.
Over the past 6 years, she has been working with over 60 managers and + 150 corporate executives across the world from different industries and countries.
She will be leading a session on: “Why imposter syndrome is your friend” during the Stuff Talks Ambitious Woman Week. You can register for free here.
During the week of January 10-16, every day you’ll get to meet an amazing woman and expert in her field who will share with you tips, insights, mindset hacks and other tools that can help you on your journey.
You’ll get the videos sent directly to your inbox so that you can view them when it suits you. (Because I know you’re super busy)
That’s seven amazing women over seven days, with a live call with all the speakers and attendees on the last day.