• Helen Burt Iain McCormick

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome



Impostor syndrome is a pattern of thoughts and feeling where the person doubts his or her own ability and has a persistent fear of being found out as a "fraud". Despite clear evidence to the contrary the person is deeply convinced that they are a fake and do not deserve all they have achieved.

Many are surprised to know that up to 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. So imposter syndrome is the norm for most people.

What can be done about it? Dr Jessamy Hibberd in the excellent book The Imposter Cure suggests, among other things, that confronting the clear external evidence of their competence is vital for these folks. Hibberd recommends that for individuals who are determined to change, they need to actively counter a range of myths about themselves such as my success was just luck, it was a fluke, I was at the right place at the right time, they must have been fooled by me, they must have liked me and I know the right people. These individuals often find it easy to build and sustain these myths because they keep these thoughts private or they robustly defend them in discussion with others. An important step in overcoming the syndrome is bringing these private thoughts out in the open in a courageous way with a friend or coach. The objective evidence can thus be brought to bear about the reality of their qualifications, experience and competence.

This is an important start.

Iain McCormick, Partner, Executive Coaching Centre 021 575449

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

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