Imposter Syndrome – is it real and why do we keep hearing about it all the time...
Someone, yep usually a woman, feels out of their depth and the usual diagnosis is “you have imposter syndrome”- that feeling of being a phony and just waiting to be found out.
I remember when my son was born and maybe a week or two old, telling my partner. “Wow, I have such imposter syndrome.
I just know someone is going to come along and say, “we can tell you have no idea what you are doing, and we are going to have to intervene”.
He just started laughing, “of course you have no idea what you are doing, no one does when they first have a baby. This imposter syndrome that you speak off is just not real”.
And yet, still the doubts persisted, until they didn’t…
The “fake it ‘till you make it” actually had become true.
We have held quite a few Nurture Network roundtables now and the topic of imposter syndrome has raised its head again and again.
This time, in a professional setting, with hugely successful women, yet it’s still something that lurks out there and inside of us.
Some of our Network even questioned whether imposter syndrome is actually a thing.
So we decided to do some digging into what the experts had to say.
Unfortunately, a google search left us even more confused.
Some articles dove deep into imposter syndrome, identified different types, and even explored reasons why imposter syndrome is said to affect women and in particular women of colour harder.
Then we came across another point of view – the Harvard Business Review, that wants us to stop telling women we have imposter syndrome and start acknowledging that it’s ok not to know everything at first.This advice really resonated with us at Nurture Network.
We spend so much of our lives trying to reshape who we are for the world around us. How about re-framing this in our own heads?
“Imposter syndrome took a fairly universal feeling of discomfort, second-guessing, and mild anxiety in the workplace and pathologized it, especially for women. As white men progress, their feelings of doubt usually abate as their work and intelligence are validated over time. They’re able to find role models who are like them, and rarely (if ever) do others question their competence, contributions, or leadership style. Women experience the opposite. Rarely are we invited to a women’s career development conference where a session on “overcoming imposter syndrome” is not on the agenda.”
“Leaders must create a culture for women and people of color that addresses systemic bias and racism. Only by doing so can we reduce the experiences that culminate in so-called imposter syndrome among employees from marginalized communities — or at the very least, help those employees channel healthy self-doubt into positive motivation, which is best fostered within a supportive work culture.
Perhaps then we can stop misdiagnosing women with “imposter syndrome” once and for all…”
AMEN TO THAT!
FIGHTING THE IMPOSTER
Our google searching wasn’t in vain though.
We also found some fantastic Ted talks that covered imposter syndrome.
If you only have a few minutes, our advice is jump straight to Susan Colantuono’s talk around the two minute mark, and hear her advice on the missing 33%.
The missing 33%, Susan explains refers to the business, strategic and financial acumen that senior executives need to display. In her view, while women have these attributes, we aren’t shown how essential these are to reach the top.
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