Am I Good Enough to Succeed? Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace
People with Imposter Syndrome doubt their skills and abilities — putting their accomplishments down to 'luck'. They have a persistent, internalised fear of being exposed as a 'fraud', and that others will catch them out one day. This generally manifests itself in the workplace, and can affect anyone, regardless of job role or social status.
For those who struggle with it, Imposter Syndrome can be crippling. In this blog, Nicky Stone discusses how you can combat it and create your own definition of success.
Hi, we are Happy
We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.
How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?
How many of us start an important day with the feeling that today might be the day 'they' figure out that we aren't really good enough? That thought still crosses my mind, and yesterday the irony was particularly acute as I welcomed my participants to a Confidence for Women workshop by sharing just that.
When asked to complete the sentence "Imposter syndrome is..." The chat answers came thick and fast. One of my favourites was "… believing you are not capable or got the job by mistake". Isn't it amazing the things we tell ourselves? It's pretty hard to see how you could get a job by mistake!
I asked the group what their imposter syndrome (or inner critic) told them and you can see the deluge of disabling comments in the picture above. Things like:
- "I am going to fail"
- "I am not good enough"
- "I shouldn't be there"
- "Someone else would do it better"
- "Someone is going to call me out"
Would you ever talk to a friend like that, or even a stranger? Reading those yellow sticky notes could leave you rather depressed.
Now scan down to the blue ones. These are the reappraised versions, the more enabling thoughts that the group chose to reframe their imposter syndrome:
- "If I fail then I will learn"
- "I am good enough"
- "I've worked hard for this"
- "I know what I'm talking about - it's my area of expertise"
- "I was chosen for this, I am competent"
Aren't they more like the kind of self-talk that we need?
We also explored the idea that as a woman, despite what you might have been conditioned to believe, you do not have to choose between being 'nice and likeable' or 'competent and strong'. One woman shared: "I've been told many times over the years I'm 'too nice' to succeed".
I guess it all depends on what you think success is. If it is about getting to the top, competition and winning then maybe being nice could be a barrier in certain situations. But ask yourself, 'what does success look like to me?' For me, it is doing work I find fulfilling, knowing I am making a difference (however small), having wonderful family and friends, giving my children a secure and loving home.
If we are going to judge ourselves let's make sure we use the right criteria. It can be a trap of our society to feel inferior against a standard that doesn't even match our values.
Working with those 50 amazing women yesterday, completely whet my appetite for the year-long Brave Leadership programme for women that I am going to be co-facilitating with Cathy Busani from May. I can't wait to have lots more conversations about how as a group of female leaders we can bring out the best in each other, challenge our thinking, develop our skills and reach our own measures of success.
Will my imposter syndrome put in an appearance leading the Brave programme? You bet! But, following inspiration from Monica Lewinski as she prepared for her TED talk, I will choose to tune into 5 words instead: "This matters" and "I got this!"
Why not sign up to our newsletter?
Sign up to our monthly newsletter, full of tips, tricks and news to help you to be happier and more productive at work.
Learn the 10 core principles to create a happy and engaged workplace in Henry Stewart's book, the Happy Manifesto.
Nicky has been a senior facilitator for over 16 years. Her leadership purpose is to support people to reach their full potential, and this has driven her internally as part of Happy’s senior leadership team. It has enabled her, through her work every day with clients, to facilitate senior leadership programmes and personal development events. Nicky also has a proven track record at leading on large projects and inspiring others as a speaker at conferences.
Testimonials from happy learners
Right level, including and relaxed feeling.
The course was well structured and the tutor was very patient and knowledgeable and helped us all. My headset decided to die about 10 minutes from the end but he wasn't p...
Trainer was excellent. Involved the whole group. Speed and tempo of training was just right. Were able to bring our own experiences and plans for the future.
Amanda Adegoke1 day ago
Really informative and relevant contact and the delivery was excellent.
Sam Giles3 days ago
Instructor was patient and tailored everything to people of all levels.
Trusted Customer3 days ago
Online classes are not a good idea when you have to use one screen to look at three things at the same time. Listen to the tutor, look at what they do on one screen and a...
Trusted Customer3 days ago
Training was great, easy to follow.
Pablo Barrio3 days ago
Great tips during the training. I liked a lot the spreadsheet that helps decide what structure is better depending on the problem at hand.
Trusted Customer4 days ago
Straightforward and efficient. Course was easy to book; communication was straightforward; course joining instructions were clear.
Trusted Customer13 days ago
Fairly good customer experience - all training materials provided on time. Good reminders leading up to the course.
Tom Ellis14 days ago
Good course, with a good and involving lead presenter on it. Felt it really delivered against the brief.
Trusted Customer14 days ago
Excellent communication throughout