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In Print Leadership The Essentials

Imposter Syndrome, The Thief of Joy

imposter syndrome

As they say, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If we continually compare ourselves with others, we will always feel second best. 

In a world where success and failure are viewed through the lens of social media, it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to escape the comparison with others — or perhaps worse still, the feeling you’re not the person others think you are.

Comparing ourselves to others on social media is like viewing everyone else’s highlight show reel, compared to our out-takes and bloopers. Comparison is almost always subjective and influenced by bias.

Chances are, if you’re a high achiever and a highly successful leader, then at some stage you’ve experienced “imposter syndrome.” If you have ever thought to yourself, “I feel like a fake” or you feel like you’re “going to be found out,” then you’re likely to have experienced imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome can be defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success,” (HBR, 2008). Often, this will be experienced as attributing your success to external factors, rather than being able to internalize your accomplishments. In many cases, women have a tendency to do this more so than men.

The challenge is that imposter syndrome can sabotage our highest aspirations and, as leaders, see us playing a smaller game, lacking the confidence to inspire others. So how can we minimize the impact of imposter syndrome?

Be aware. Acknowledge the feelings as they arise and reframe.

Remind yourself of all your recent accomplishments — write a list if you need to.

Practice self acceptance. Be compassionate to yourself and acknowledge it’s normal to not feel confident all of the time.

Avoid comparison. You’ll never really know the full picture of someone else’s story. Chances are they also have times when they experience self doubt and a lack of confidence.

Be courageous and don’t be limited by self doubt. When you challenge your constrained thinking, the sky is the limit for what you can achieve.

Kristen Green

Kristen Green is the executive general manager of Aquafit in Australia and was named Australian Club Manager of the Year in April 2020. For more information email kgreen@aquafit.com.au.

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