• Do you sometimes feel it isn’t your place to share or give your opinion on a specific topic?
  • Do you work harder than others to prove yourself?
  • Do you doubt your accomplishments, even if you get positive feedback from your surroundings?
  • Do you attribute your success to luck or chance?
  • Do you wonder if you have sufficient background or qualifications to get the job?

Those questions are some examples of thoughts you might have had when experiencing the imposter syndrome. 

 Do you recognise yourself in any one of them?

 

What is it the imposter syndrome?

Put simply, the imposter syndrome is the fear of being revealed as a fraud. 

The underlying thought of someone experiencing the imposter syndrome is the following; “I might have been able, so far, to hide my incompetence but one day people will realise I am not so good at what I do”.

Although everyone can encounter this feeling at some point in her life or career, it becomes an issue if it is a recurrent pattern and prevents us from moving forward in our dreams or aspirations.

The different types of imposter syndrome

 

In actual fact,  there isn’t only one imposter syndrome… but several types of imposter syndromes and you might be confronted to one or several of them… 🤪 

Let me start by listing them:

  1. Superwoman
  2. Soloist
  3. Expert
  4. Perfectionist
  5. Natural genius 

Here is a bit more clarification on each of them;

  1. The superwoman is overdoing it, working 3 times harder than others to prove herself. She stretches herself to the limit in order to manage it all.
  2. The soloist can do everything on her own and she does not ask for help or support because doing so would prove, in the mind if of a soloist, that she is not capable of doing it and ultimately prove her incompetence.
  3. The expert is never ready to share her expertise because there is always something more to learn, another training or certification to complete… 
  4. The perfectionist wants it 100% perfect, 100% of the time and as there is always something to improve, the perfectionist wastes a lot of time and energy in order to complete a task. 
  5. Finally, the natural genius thinks that if she can’t excel with her current talents then it means she will never be good at it. 

We can react in different ways when facing the imposter syndrome:

  • either we procrastinate (or even quit): “‘it is too much  for me, impossible to do, so I better not even try it”
  • or we overdo it: “I need to work harder, day and night, if needed, but I will prove I can do it”

In any case, the imposter syndrome leaves us unsatisfied and unhappy. No matter how hard we try and no matter if we are successful, we still feel anxious, doubt ourselves and we don’t celebrate our achievements.

How to overcome the imposter syndrome?

Am I the expert on this topic? No! 😉

But let me share some suggestions that might help you change your current way of thinking. 

First of all, I would suggest to try the following:

  • nurture a positive mindset: be kind to yourself, accept your mistakes, learn from them and celebrate your achievements
  • replace fear by action: challenge yourself, dare to try something new; prepare it, try it, learn from it and repeat
  • use a step by step approach and look for progress, not immediate success

I also want to share with you some quotes and reflexions for each of the imposter syndrome, which you can remind yourself when facing some challenges:

1. Superwoman: “Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do!”  Benjamin Spock

Is it the quantity that matters or the quality? Are you not more efficient and impactful when you are less tired and overwhelmed? So, don’t compare yourself to others, leverage on your own talents and take care of yourself.

2. Soloist: “You can do anything but not everything” David Allen 

You cannot know and do everything. In which area are your competences the most useful?  Why not delegate some part of your work to others? Or create a support group to foster learning and grow yourself and others?

3. Expert: “The expert in anything was once a beginner” Helen Hayes  

Knowledge is endless; there will always be something more to know.  But don’t you already know something that would contribute to others? You surely do, so don’t waste it, share it.

4. Perfectionist: “Done is better than perfect!” Sheryl Sandberg 

It can always be better.  There are so many ways to improve. But how much time and energy do you want to spend on it? Is your time and value not better used for something else. 

5. Natural genius:  “As much as talent counts, effort counts twice!”  Angela Duckworth 

If you have an interest in the task and you are not yet good at it, why not invest in it? With time and effort you can become good at it or even excel!

 

Last but not least, don’t forget, that life is a learning journey! We learn everyday!

So go out of your comfort zone, learn and you will be amazed at how much you can and will grow!

Another article which can be useful to you: “Le perfectionnisme, ça vous parle?”