What it is
The impostor phenomenon is capable people’s deep belief of not having any merit in their achievements.
Personally, it is like a panic attach: as during one of them I am sure every breathe will be my last one, likewise I have moments in which I feel I am unmistakably the least clever person in the room, and I’d better hide myself before someone is going to call my bluff.
This irrational fear can keep us from performing in our job, from sharing our great ideas, and, finally, from doing amazing things.
How to deal with it
Once I wrote to my mentor Claudia a message containing the following sentence:
The impostor syndrome has me so badly, that not only I believe that I do not deserve success, but even that I do not deserve setting a goal!
First of all, I have learned that it is not a syndrome, but a phenomenon.
Next, in a couple of articles published by Prof. Terry Simpkin on LinkedIn, you can find a number of techniques on how to deal with it.
- Ask your peer-friends for evidence-based feedbacks.
- Allow yourself some regular worry time.
But out of it, dismiss it. This is actually my favourite: I use the same technique allowing myself 5 minutes of daily pandemic panic, but out of it, life goes on.
- Avoid perfectionism.
Follow the Pareto rule: 20% of the effort brings 80% of the results. This one allowed me to complete so many things! Only a couple of years ago, I was neither starting some projects because I knew I was never going to properly perform. Note: if you feel like you can go for that 100%, do the extra work (thanks Claudia for having pushed me for it).
- Celebrate your achievements.
When you reach a goal, take a break to enjoy that feeling of accomplishment. If appreciated, just say “thank you” and end the sentence there, without going down the hill of deprecating yourself.
Fake it until you make it or the Chair Sitting Dilemma in Star Trek
In an interview on BBC Radio-1, Chris Pine told Ali Plumb about the issues he had in sitting confidently in Capitan Kirk’s chair in Star Trek movie:
“That chair is very big and I get a small butt, so to figure out how to occupy that amount of space and look cool, that was a big thing at first”
“They don’t teach you chair acting” noted the interviewer.
My point is that, to overcome our fears, we should convince ourself that we belong to that chair: fake it until you make it. I am convinced that, if one makes it, chances are she was not faking it at all. The irony of it is that we are faking the not being phoney people.
Journaling in practice
Save a couple of pages on your Journal for a Gratitude Collection. Following the suggestion of Ryder Carrol, creator of the Bullet Journal Method, take the time every day to write down one thing you are grateful for. The trick is that every entry has to differ from all the others. I promise you awesome things are going to happen.
Who doesn’t love personality test?
Here a questionnaire developed by Dr Pauline Rose Clance.
My score this week was 63, unsuspectedly high, as lately I became aware that indeed I got my successes because of my hard work (impostor phenomenon alert!).