The Imposter Syndrome

Sometimes I feel like I am an imposter…

As defined by Wikipedia, The Imposter Syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

A little over a year ago I left the relative security of a corporate job - having spent nearly 25 years working for multi-nationals - and set up my own consulting business Pin Consult. Over the past 12 months I have relearned what is important to me, and where I believe I can have the biggest impact. I have reworked and simplified my marketing and promotional material and sometimes I have got it wrong, sometimes I have got it right. I have learned more about ‘the important stuff’ in one-year than I had in the previous ten… Pin Consult has evolved a lot, so I guess it’s no wonder that I sometimes feel like an imposter.

The good news is that I am not alone, and at some time in their career, nearly everyone will suffer from Imposter Syndrome. 

‘Imposter Syndrome’ sounds cooler than self-doubt, however, I think in many ways this syndrome is simply a case of good old-fashioned doubt.

What is the best way to overcome Imposter Syndrome? I am not a qualified psychologist; however, I have experience here, and think that if you remember and practise the three things below you will go a long way towards overcoming it:

  1. The first thing you can do is PREPARE AND PRACTISE. Whatever you are doing, that is making you feel like an imposter, the two things that never fail to help are preparation and practise.
  2. In those moments of stress one thing to remember is that you are not saving the world. Unless your job is to save the world?  The point here (as my wife has been known to tell me in the past), is to PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE. What will happen if you don’t do as well as you would have liked?  Will you not win the pitch? Then what will happen? Will people laugh at you? Will your health fail you? Will your family and friends leave you? Of course not.
  3. The third thing I find works for me is to remember that most of what we do has been done before, hundreds if not thousands of times. And even if it hasn’t there will be many, many people around the world, right now, doing almost the same thing that you are. And most of them are no smarter nor better than you are. If you look hard enough you will realise with most things in life, THERE IS A WELL-TRODDEN PATH TO FOLLOW…

Number one is worth repeating; regardless of what it is you are doing, the two things that never fail to help are to prepare and practise.  And as Alexander Graham Bell said after inventing the telephone; “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” 

Thanks as always for listening and feel free to share, comment or contact me with any thoughts or questions that you have.



DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other person, organisation, employer or company. The author is a consultant and coach focused on improving performance. I draw on 25 years corporate experience, a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Cultural Anthropology and a Masters of Business Administration.


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