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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Definition: Imposter syndrome is a state of mind characterised by the feeling that a person's true identity is less than its outer expression. People with imposter syndrome worry that others will discover that they are "not as good as they have been pretending to be" and that they will be revealed as an imposter. This feeling creates a host of self-doubts and worries in the minds of suffers.

Chris: Sam, what's been on your mind lately? You seem a bit distant.

Sam: It's this feeling I can't shake off. At work, I feel like I don't truly belong or deserve my position. I fear they'll soon discover I'm not as competent as they think. It's just like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Chris: Ah, that sounds like imposter syndrome. It's that internal belief that you're not as competent as others perceive you to be, despite evident success. Why do you reckon you feel this way?

Sam: I suppose it's always been part of me, since school days, really. I was often praised for my quick learning, but inside, I felt I was just good at memorising, not truly understanding.

Chris: That's quite revealing, Sam. You know, self-image plays a huge role in shaping these feelings. Your beliefs about your own abilities set the stage for how you perceive yourself in various aspects of life.

Sam: Self-image? How do you mean?

Chris: Self-image is essentially how you see yourself, not just physically, but your abilities, potential, and limitations. It's formed from a mix of influences - parents, teachers, friends, and even the media.

Sam: So, you're suggesting that my self-image from back then is dictating how I feel now?

Chris: Precisely! Like that metaphor about the elephant. Have you heard it? An elephant tethered by a sturdy chain learns it can't break free as a youngster. Even when the chain is replaced with just a mere string later in life, it doesn't attempt to escape, held back by the belief it can't.

Sam: That's rather bleak, isn't it? Am I stuck feeling like an impostor for good?

Chris: Not at all! The beauty of self-image is that it's not fixed. You can reshape it by consciously choosing to see yourself differently. Reflect on your achievements and challenge those old beliefs. You're not that school kid anymore.

Sam: I get that, but how do I begin changing this deep-seated feeling?

Chris: Start by recognising those small victories at work, each task you accomplish, each compliment you receive. Write them down. It's not about proving others wrong, but proving to yourself that you're competent.

Sam: Sounds like a plan. But what about the days when the doubt is overwhelming?

Chris: On those days, remind yourself that everyone experiences doubt - it's human. The key is not to let it define you. Reflect on your past successes and remember, you've grown since then. Every challenge you overcome builds a bit more of your new self-image.

Sam: Thanks, Chris. This chat's been enlightening. I suppose understanding and changing my self-image could indeed help me break free from these chains of doubt.

Chris: Anytime, Sam. It's all about the steps you take towards recognising and then overcoming those outdated beliefs. You're more capable than you think, mate. Let's catch up soon and see how you're getting on?

Sam: Definitely, Chris. Looking forward to it!

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can be addressed through understanding and reconstructing one's self-image, using the metaphor of the elephant to symbolise breaking free from past limitations.

If you would like to learn more about overcoming imposter syndrome, please attend our Overcoming Imposter Syndrome course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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