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Maybe you’ve heard the term in passing and wondered, what exactly is impostor syndrome? Let’s take a closer look at who can experience this syndrome, when is it most likely to strike and what are the tell tale signs that you’re in the grip of the impostor phenomenon.

You can be successful and still feel like an impostor

If you’ve ever felt like a fraud and questioned whether you measure up to others, you’re not alone.

Sheryl Sandberg, Meta’s Chief Operating Officer, has shared ‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’ 

Hollywood stalwart Tom Hanks has described similar feelings when interviewed, “No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’ “ Anyone can experience the impostor phenomenon.

Sonia Sotomayor, was the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. She has also described measuring her many achievements against others, “I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”

How Does Impostor Syndrome Affect Us?

Anxiety often goes hand in hand with the impostor phenomenon. When you’re in its grip, your behaviour and motivation can suffer. You may notice a reluctance to rise to new challenges because you feel constantly exhausted by trying to achieve perfection.

In their research, Clances & Imes found that four things usually happen when impostor syndrome is present:

  1. you’re faced with A NEW OPPORTUNITY OR CHALLENGE
  1. you feel panicked by the prospect of failure and as a result you find yourself OVER PREPARing OR being absorbed by A LAST MINUTE FRENZY OF ANXIOUS ACTIVITY
  1. WHEN you achieve SUCCESS you explain it away as EITHER luck or over-preparation. In the back of your mind you have a niggling doubt that, “Next time I’m bound to be found out.”
  1. you MIGHT have A SHORT LIVED SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT BUT THEN THE WHOLE CYCLE OF SELF DOUBT, ANXIETY AND FEAR beginS AGAIN.

Want to know how to overcome impostor syndrome? See our next blog to discover our top 5 hacks for overcoming impostor feelings to achieve success.

Like to find out more and power up your performance to the next level? Take a look at our free resources.

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