Ever sat in a meeting at work and felt as though everyone else is better at the job than you are? Ever felt as though you’re winging it and are about to be discovered as a fraud? If so, you are suffering from what’s known as Impostor Phenomenon and you are not alone. Dr. Valerie Young, (author and expert on the subject) argues that almost all of us will experience a set of feelings that cause us to feel like an impostor in certain circumstances and it doesn’t mean that there is an underlying psychological issue that needs to be “cured”.
What’s clear though is that whilst we all have feelings of self-doubt from time to time, some of us experience these feelings more often or more intensely than others and this could damage our careers. In addition to affecting our well-being on a day-to-day basis impostor phenomenon could mean we hold back from applying for a new job, asking for a pay rise or going for a promotion.
Is the answer to look for ways to boost our confidence? Well yes and no. If impostor phenomenon is holding back your career then coaching to build your self-confidence will help but as Dr. Young argues we can’t expect to feel confident all the time – some self-doubt is normal. Writer and philosopher Jules Evans suggests there might even be something valuable in impostor phenomenon if it encourages humility. Honestly assessing our competences is something we need to do to keep learning and improving.
As with so much in life, it’s a question of balance. We can embrace our inner critic, but we mustn’t let him/her call the shots.
To find out more about Impostor Phenomenon listen to:
The Impostors’ Survival Guide Radio 4 presented by Oliver Burkeman or read: Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Dr. Valarie Young