164. Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?

    en-usSeptember 24, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Imposter Syndrome: Feeling Like a Fraud Despite SuccessImposter syndrome is a common feeling of incompetence or fraud, even for successful individuals. Recognizing its prevalence and focusing on personal growth can help alleviate negative effects.

      Imposter syndrome, or the feeling of being incompetent or a fraud despite evidence of success, is a common experience shared by many individuals, including successful ones. This feeling can lead to self-doubt and decreased productivity, but acknowledging its prevalence and recognizing that others also experience it can help alleviate the negative effects. Imposter syndrome is well-documented and can be researched extensively. It's important to remember that low expectations or past successes do not necessarily define one's abilities, and it's essential to focus on personal growth rather than comparing oneself to others. Additionally, seeking support from colleagues, mentors, or professionals can help individuals overcome imposter syndrome and turn it into a positive driving force.

    • Feeling like a fraud at work despite accomplishmentsDespite feeling like an impostor, it's important to remember that everyone is learning and making things up as they go, and having confidence in one's abilities can help overcome self-doubt.

      Impostor syndrome, or the feeling of being a fraud despite accomplishments, is a common experience in the workplace. The speaker shared a personal story of launching a new product line at Qualtrics, only to have a competitor announce the same product shortly after. Instead of feeling defeated, the speaker decided to embrace the uncertainty and continue moving forward. The Imposter Syndrome Quiz mentioned in the conversation is a tool used to assess feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy at work. According to the speaker, it's important to remember that everyone is learning and making things up as they go, and it's okay to have confidence in one's abilities. In the words of the speaker, "If nobody knows what they're doing, then I might as well go for it and just run full speed ahead."

    • Experience of feeling like a fraud or underqualified despite evidence to the contraryImposter syndrome can be a sign to build a strong team and lean on their expertise, leading to effective leadership and growth

      Imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a fraud or underqualified, despite evidence to the contrary from others. This feeling arises when there is a gap between how others perceive one's abilities and how one perceives themself. Imposter syndrome is not just about self-perception or other people's perceptions, but the specific comparison between the two. It's the fear of being found out as not as capable as others believe. However, it's important to note that this feeling can also be a strength for leaders. By acknowledging that one doesn't have to be great at everything, and by surrounding oneself with a team of people who are experts in different areas, one can use imposter syndrome as an opportunity to build a strong team and demonstrate vulnerability. This vulnerability, in turn, can lead to effective leadership and growth. So, instead of letting imposter syndrome cripple you, consider it as a sign to build a strong team and lean on their expertise.

    • Origins of Imposter Syndrome Traced Back to Two PsychologistsImposter syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy despite accomplishments, was first identified by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Emmett Iams in the 1970s. It affects high-achievers and is a deeply universal feeling.

      Imposter syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy or self-doubt despite accomplishments, is a common experience that can affect anyone, including high-achieving individuals like the dean of Wharton School of Business or the head of Starbucks. The origins of this phenomenon can be traced back nearly 50 years to two psychologists, Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Emmett Iams, who coined the term based on their own experiences and those of their female patients. Confidence and expectations play a role in imposter syndrome, but it's a deeply universal feeling that many people experience at some point in their lives. If you'd like to share your own experiences with imposter syndrome, send us a voice memo and we may play it on a future episode of No Stupid Questions.

    • Understanding Imposter Syndrome as a Societal IssueRecognize societal structures contributing to imposter syndrome and work towards creating more inclusive environments

      Imposter syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy or self-doubt despite accomplishments, is often seen as an individual psychological problem, but it can be more accurately understood as a societal structural issue. This perspective was highlighted in a letter to the editor from a professor of education, Eric Weiner, who argued that pathologizing imposter syndrome can blame the person rather than the system. The professor's argument was supported by an HR executive's experience, who noted that individuals most likely to feel like impostors were those who don't fit into traditional groups and lack role models. Research suggests that there may not be a significant gender difference in imposter syndrome, and if there is, it's likely subtle. Thus, it's crucial to recognize the societal structures that contribute to feelings of imposter syndrome and work towards creating more inclusive environments.

    • Imposter syndrome affects everyone, but societal pressures and experiences of marginalization may make it more prevalent for women and ethnic minorities.Imposter syndrome can lead to chronic stress, inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but marginalized individuals can still succeed academically and professionally, leading to a physiological toll on their health

      Imposter syndrome, the feeling of being a fraud despite accomplishments, is not exclusive to any particular gender or race. However, research suggests that women and ethnic minorities may be more open about admitting these feelings due to societal pressures and experiences of marginalization. Interestingly, a study showed that both men and women identified as impostors about two-thirds of the time. However, the long-term effects of constantly feeling like an imposter can have detrimental health consequences, such as chronic stress, inflammation, and increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The feeling of not belonging or being a fraud can put individuals in a prolonged fight or flight response, leading to allostatic load and negative health outcomes. The phrase "skin deep resilience" refers to the ability of marginalized individuals to succeed academically and professionally despite facing challenges, but the physiological toll of this stress can lead to health issues.

    • Understanding Imposter Syndrome through the Three Boxes of Human BehaviorImposter syndrome, a feeling of being a fraud, can be linked to external factors and lack of self-belief. Conduct a 'failure audit' or reflect on personal strengths to combat it.

      Imposter syndrome, the feeling of being a fraud or not belonging, can be linked to a lack of foundational sense of belonging and resilience. This feeling can be chronic and persistent, leading to stress and self-doubt. To combat imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to conduct a "failure audit" to identify external factors contributing to perceived failures, or to practice reflecting on and reminding oneself of personal strengths and accomplishments. Imposter syndrome can be understood through the lens of the three boxes of human behavior: objective situation, thoughts, and response. For imposter syndrome, the objective situation is praise, which can lead to negative thoughts of being overrated, and subsequent emotional and behavioral responses.

    • Overcoming imposter syndrome: Breaking the cycleRealize setbacks result from external factors, acknowledge past achievements, and challenge reward of overconfidence to overcome imposter syndrome. Organizations can measure competence, promote representation, and challenge overconfidence to support individuals.

      Imposter syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy despite evidence of competence, can lead individuals into a cycle of anxiety and insecurity, resulting in either working excessively hard or self-sabotaging. Neither approach effectively addresses the issue. Instead, focusing on the realization that setbacks are often due to external factors and recognizing past achievements can help break the cycle. Additionally, organizations can play a role by measuring competence rather than confidence, promoting representation, and challenging the reward of overconfidence. Ultimately, both individuals and organizations must acknowledge and address the root causes of imposter syndrome to create lasting change.

    • Imposter syndrome's impact on thoughts and behaviorsImposter syndrome can lead to negative outcomes, but also positive ones like strong relationships. Recognizing successes and external factors in failures can help mitigate it.

      The circumstances and situation around us can significantly impact our thoughts and behaviors, including the experience of imposter syndrome. MIT professor Basima Tufik's research suggests that while imposter syndrome can have negative effects, such as self-handicapping and decreases in self-esteem, it can also lead to positive outcomes, such as a focus on building strong interpersonal relationships. Additionally, recognizing and taking credit for successes and acknowledging the role of external factors in failures can help mitigate the impact of imposter syndrome. Ultimately, imposter syndrome is a common experience, and it's important to remember that we all have the capacity to grow and succeed despite feeling like we don't belong or aren't good enough. In the discussion, Mike referenced Howard Schultz's quote about syndrome, but Angela corrected her by stating that Schultz was not the founder of Starbucks, but rather the person who bought the company and turned it into a global brand. The correct title of Schultz's memoir is "Pour Your Heart Into It, How Starbucks Built a Company, One Cup at a Time."

    • Genetics influence effort required for goalsGenetics can make some goals more challenging, but individual choices and environments also matter

      Genetics can influence the amount of effort required to achieve certain goals, such as weight gain or avoiding addiction. While genetics don't determine our destiny, they can make some paths more challenging than others. For instance, some people naturally find it easier to put on weight, while others struggle despite their best efforts. Similarly, those with a family history of addiction may find it harder to resist the temptation compared to those without such a history. However, it's important to remember that genetics are just one piece of the puzzle, and individual choices and environments also play significant roles in shaping our outcomes. Overall, while genetics can provide some explanations for why certain things are harder or easier for different people, they don't determine our fate.

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