Do you ever feel like you are a fraud? The Imposter Syndrome haunts many people, especially if you are successful. In the episode, learn about the Imposter Syndrome and how it might be hurting your creativity. The good news – once you understand it, it’s easy to change. Listen and learn four steps to combat the Imposter Syndrome and start being more creative in your personal and professional life.
What You’ll Learn
- What the Imposter Syndrome is.
- How to know if you have the Imposter Syndrome.
- Four steps to move past the Imposter Syndrome and be more creative.
The Weekly Challenge
This week, pay attention to when and where you experience the Imposter Syndrome. Where does it creep in? Write down what those situations are. Do you see any trends? Then, follow steps 2-4 in the podcast to combat the Imposter Syndrome. Share in the comment section or send me an email and let me know how it goes.
Feel like reading instead of listening? Download the free PDF Transcript or read it below. Enjoy!
Transcript for Episode #026: The Imposter Syndrome
Amy Climer: Hey everyone! Welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode 26. Today we are going to talk about the Imposter Syndrome, what it has to do with creativity and how it can negatively impact your creativity. First, I want to say Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you in the US, I hope you are having a great holiday! This holiday is all about recognizing and paying attention to what we are thankful for. I have so many things to be thankful for. I just want to share with you all before we dive into the Imposter Syndrome. The first thing I want to say is thank you to all my amazing clients I have worked with this year. Climer Consulting had a great year so far. I’ve worked with tech firms, healthcare companies, restaurants, non-profits, universities and summer camps this year. I love the diversity that I have within my clients. I love teaching them about creativity, leadership, and helping their teams become amazing. So thank you to all my clients for that opportunity to work together. I love you all. I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving today. I want to send a thank you to everyone who listens to The Deliberate Creative Podcasts. You all are awesome! My goal is to help you be more creative in your personal and professional life and help you lead your teams to be more creative. I hope this podcast is helpful; this whole series for you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for the feedback. Thank you to everyone who have written review for me this year. I love it. Thanks for the emails, it is so fun to hear from you all. The other thing I am really thankful is that it is Episode 26. That means because this comes out every week, I’ve been doing The Deliberate Creative Podcast for half a year. Wow! That is just super cool! So hopefully things just keep going well and I’ll hit Episode 52 pretty soon.
Let me talk a little bit about the Imposter Syndrome today. This is something that I learned about in 2011. I’ll tell you that story in a moment, but first let me tell you what is the Imposter Syndrome. It is this idea or concept where you feel inadequate despite proof to the contrary. So it’s this idea that any day now someone’s going to figure out, “I really don’t know what I’m doing.” It tends to be more common actually amongst successful people. Research says there is anywhere between 40- 70% of people experiencing the Imposter Syndrome. It is slightly more common in women than men. Now this is not like a mental disorder. This isn’t a syndrome you would find in the DSM or anything like that. This is more just a self doubt sort of thing, but particularly among successful people. There some well known successful people who have said that they have experienced the Imposter Syndrome at times. Some of those people include actress and comedian Tina Fey, the US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook, and Albert Einstein. Actually a month before his death he reportedly confided in a friend saying, “the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” I love that, to think of Albert Einstein whom we adore and praise with accolades of research he has done, and to think he was experiencing this as well, as well as other three I have mentioned. All people who are in incredibly accomplished.
Now I first learned about the Imposter Syndrome when I was in graduate school. Four years ago I started a PHd program in 2011. It’s a cohort model program at Antioch University. On the very first day we were all together and two professors were there and they said, “We want to tell you about the Imposter Syndrome”. Now before we were all got together we have received a packet of information that included everyone’s biography, you know short little paragraphs about each person who was in the cohort. There were about 25 of us. Just to give you a sense of the level of people within this group there was a CEO of a large engineering firm. The first African American women to represent Georgia in the US senate was there. There was a COO of a large university prostate center. There was one Vice President of a university, people who were very accomplished in education, healthcare, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure our professors knew that all of us regardless of what our own bio said we were reading this list of other people and thinking “Oh my gosh! How did I get accepted in this program?” So on the first day they said, “We want to tell you about the Imposter Syndrome.” What they said to us was that you may be sitting here thinking, “how did I get into this program? Surely they made a mistake.” And they said, “No we didn’t make a mistake, we know each of you very well. We got to know you through your application and interview and all of you are here because we selected you to be here because of your previous accomplishments, your motivation and so forth.” For me it was a real eye opener to hear about this concept of the Imposter Syndrome. They also said if you are not feeling that now, at some point in the next three or four years you are going to feel it. They were absolutely right. There have been times while I’ve been in my PHD , where I’m thinking, “Do I actually know enough to write this? Do I know enough to do this dissertation? There are so many people out that know more than me.” Now understanding the Imposter Syndrome I realized, “yeah, of course many people know more than any of us. There are always people smarter, there are always people more successful, there’s always people who are doing something better than we are. But that doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t important and doesn’t contribute.”
So we are going to talk about how if affects creativity. I want to say one more thing about Imposter Syndrome. Usually what happens when you experience the Imposter Syndrome is you think “Oh geez, at any minute now somebody’s going to figure out I really don’t know what I’m doing or I really actually don’t know that much. Or, I’m really not that experienced.” Even though there is all these evidence to the contrary. So let me explain how experiencing the Imposter Syndrome impacts your creativity and decreases your creativity. What happens when we’re experiencing the Imposter Syndrome, we hold back, because we think, “oh yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know enough. I’m not smart enough.” So we hold back and we don’t contribute as much. Perhaps we have an idea and we think, “well, other people have done something similar before I’m not going to forward this.” Or “Gosh, there are so many people out there who are more accomplished than me, I don’t know if i should do this,” so we hold back. We worry about failing and then looking like we don’t know something because we feel “oh my gosh!, then everyone’s going to figure out I don’t know anything and I’m an imposter.” That’s not the case. Just as an example I’ll use this podcast. As many of you know, I had this idea about the podcast probably about a year ago now. But I didn’t do anything with that idea for probably six months. Well, maybe three or four months. I just kept thinking, am I the right person to do this? There’s other creativity podcast out there. Do I know enough? Eventually I decided “well, there are definitely people out there who know more than me about creativity and there’s no doubt about that. But what if I could help somebody by doing this podcast? What if I can contribute to some people by doing this podcast? What if I can help their lives be more creative and be more successful and better and whichever way they are looking for? That was my motivation. What happens when we get caught up in Impostor Syndrome, it prevents us from contributing and realizing our full potential. Believe me, the world need your contributions. When I say world, I don’t necessarily mean the entire planet, but your world, the world you live in. That maybe your family, it might be the organization you worked for. Maybe it’s your community, or your city, or your state, or maybe it is the whole planet. I wanted to say that because I don’t want you to feel like it has to be this humongous contribution. It could be something that may seem small to you but could really have a big impact in someone else. That’s actually one of the ways that you can combat the Imposter Syndrome.
Four Ways to Beat the Imposter Syndrome [10:11]
So let’s tackle about four ideas on what to do about the Imposter Syndrome if you are experiencing it. By the way, this is something you might experience for a short time, in just one area of your life, you might experience it for a day or maybe two or maybe just for a few minutes. Or you may experience it for a long time. It varies from person to person, situation to situation so I wanted to add that it’s not something that you have and that you are stuck with forever. Not at all. But let’s talk about what to do about it when you do feel it.
1. Recognize it.
Just recognizing and knowing the word Imposter Syndrome that was incredibly so helpful so I can catch myself and realized at times. “Oh, wait a minute, okay, hold on I’m just feeling the Imposter Syndrome. Ok.” Then, I can step back and re-evaluate. Recognizing that others probably really don’t know much more than you. This is one of the things I realized in having my own business and being around other entrepreneurs and there have definitely been times where I am thinking “Oh my gosh, this person had their business five years more than me and they are really experienced” and I talked with them and realized “Oh they have the same problems that I do and they are still trying to figure out the best marketing approach. They still have some of the same challenges that they have in their business.” I realized, “Oh okay, they don’t actually know a whole lot more than I am do. Yeah, they have a little bit more of experience, but I have experience too. So first off, just recognizing it can be really helpful.
2. Focus on helping.
The second thing you can do is focus on helping. I listen to Michael Port’s Steal The Show podcast. He is a speaker and an author and the podcast is about public speaking. He talks about this idea where if you focus on being good you won’t be good, but if you focus on helping, then you will be good. I love that idea that if I just don’t worry how am I going to be evaluated and just focus on how can I help you become as creative as possible, I’m going to do better job rather than if I’m thinking about how can I have a good podcast. So focus on helping is really good.
Writing in the sense of journaling for 20 to 30 minutes can be incredibly effective and can just help you kind of sort through those feelings. Journal about the feelings you have when you are feeling the Imposter Syndrome. Then also write down what are the things you’ve done well, which brings me to number four.
4. Reflecting on accomplishments.
I don’t know if you’re like this, but sometimes what I do when I really work hard on something and I achieve it. I make the goal and then immediately afterwards I feel like, “Ok great. I’m done with that. What’s next?” I just moved on without thinking about what I’ve done. I’m always looking ahead, but that also means sometimes I forget what I’ve done. I forget the accomplishments I made. They actually can be very helpful for you to remember. I find it great to just sit at the end of the year spend some time looking back over the year. Sometimes I actually even go through my calendar. I used Google Calendar so I have a digital calendar so I flipped back through it and look at “What did I do this year? What was I doing back in February? That was months ago. What clients did I worked with, what kind of events was I doing. Sometimes it will even tell you all about. “Wow! I did 15 keynotes this year, or I did 35 different workshop with different organizations.” or whatever it is, it just helps me realize. “ Oh yeah, ok this is cool I have actually done something.” Because if I don’t look back I forget and I’m just moving ahead. I think that’s actually cool about having these podcast episodes numbered. If I didn’t say at the beginning of every episode “hey this is episode 26” it would really be easy to feel like I have done only a few when actually “Wow! 26 episodes, that’s pretty cool!” So thinking about your accomplishments can be really helpful.
So let me just review those four things you can do when you’re experiencing the Imposter Syndrome.
- Recognize it.
- Focus on helping- who is it you’re trying to help, what are you trying to do to help them. Focus on that. Don’t worry about if you are good or not, just do it.
- Doing some writing, reflective journaling.
- Reflecting on your accomplishments.
So that brings me to the weekly challenge. This week your job is to pay attention to where you may be feeling the Imposter Syndrome. Write down what those circumstances are. What situations bring those up for you. What areas of your life do you feel the Imposter Syndrome the most? Is it at work, is it as a parent, is it at school, is it with certain people, just pay attention to that. Then, once you paid attention to it spend a week or maybe two weeks in just observing you don’t even have to change anything. Then, after that spend some time doing one of those four things that I pointed out. Of course number 1 is recognizing it so I guess I’m saying spend these first couple of week recognizing it. Then act on the other ones. I hope by paying attention to the Imposter Syndrome, it will help you be more creative. It will help you generate more ideas and more importantly it will help you act on those ideas and move forward. I would think that almost everyone listening probably has something mulling at the back of their head like “Ah, yeah. I want to do this but I’m not really sure”. What’s going on there, is that the Imposter Syndrome that’s holding you back? Pay attention, maybe it’s time to get going and move forward with that.
So again just to review, the Imposter Syndrome is when you are feeling inadequate despite proof to the contrary. This idea that any day now someone is going to figure out I don’t really know what I am doing. This is very different from being a true fraud. So if you are actually lying about things like if you are a diamond seller and you are selling crystals instead of diamonds that’s completely different. That is being a flat-out fraud. This is a situation where actually you are quite accomplished and you are actually living and working with integrity, but you still have this doubts. So that’s what the Imposter Syndrome is. Just know it is really common and there are probably more people out there that experience it than you even realized.
Thank you for listening. I hope all of you, those who are living in the US are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. If you haven’t already , would love it if you will subscribe to the shows, subscribe to The Deliberate Creative Podcasts. Write a review if you haven’t done that and share with others, spread the love out there, help your friends and family become more creative. By the way, I will put some references in the show notes and you could get the shownotes at climerconsulting.com/026. You can also find it on my website climerconsulting.com. You can find all the episodes there. You can also listen on iTunes as well. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season. I’ll talk to you next week. Bye.
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