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Jan. 17, 2022

Where Does Imposter Syndrome Come From?

There are some things that we collectively struggle with. At the top of that list is dealing with imposter syndrome. But before we go deep into this, I wanted to address where the concept of imposter syndrome came from and why do so many people struggle with it?


Before I started studying this more. I didn’t realize how many people struggled with this, outside of the thoughts in my own head. And unless we are desperate or are looking for attention for ourselves, we generally keep our insecurities to ourselves. So I began to pay attention to it. I noticed imposter syndrome within our own mastermind and our own online community when we had people that were crushing it, those who were admired by so many, and yet they messaged me privately and tell me that they didn't feel like they measured up in the group


It surprised me because nobody within the mastermind would have had any idea that these people  were struggling with what we call imposter syndrome. And on top of it, we didn't create this community so that people would judge themselves and compare themselves negatively to each other. It was built to be collaborative. We help each other. As I say often, anyone can help anyone else with something. And that's the power of collaboration. Yet people felt very insecure. 

And as I heard this, it really gave me pause, not just as a leader of this group, but psychologically as well. Is this something that more people struggle with than I realize? And what it comes down to often is people's own version of success. Because when you hear about people doing it the right way, they're helpful, they're generous, they connect and contribute and they get the personal accolades and successes that come from it. What would make them feel like they don't measure up and, more specifically, what are they measuring against?

 So if we don't know what success is in our own mind, it's quite easy to fall prey to imposter syndrome. But at the core, if you don't feel like you measure up, if you don't feel like you bring value, and because of that, you're going to hide in the shadow and not do your best work. You're not going to be able to help the people that you specifically can help. We've now allowed imposter syndrome to derail us from doing the best work for ourselves and for others. So we're going to break this down for you this week. I've studied this deeply because I struggled with this just like everybody else. And I don't believe in his whole idea of  just focusing on your strengths and forgetting  about your weaknesses. 

I think learning about this has helped me not feel like that imposter and get better with all of this, at least not so much. And in a fun way it allows me to help other people deal with this as well in that we're going to bring you specific steps. We're going to bring you the lessons, we're going to help you define what imposter syndrome is and on top of that, we're going to help you understand that so many people-  people that you would be surprised to know-  also deal with this. I'll be telling some of their stories going through some of the pitfalls of this, and obviously how we get out of it. We’ll discuss how we take these things and we move on from it and then going forward, each time it creeps in we will  have a little bit of a roadmap to help us get out of it quicker because unfortunately,  it will continue to happen. Now this is business related but it’s  also family related. I've struggled with this often. Friendships, career and relationships. It runs the gamut and it could become relentless if we let it be. 

So let's get started right away. I want to start with how imposter syndrome was even discovered and found out about. It was interesting to learn that the term imposter syndrome was only coined back in 1978,  If you can believe that. It was coined by Dr. Pauline Rose Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes, when they wrote an article titled the ‘Imposter Phenomenon in High-Achieving Women. The idea was that only high-achieving women dealt with imposter syndrome. That's how it began. So these two doctors interviewed 150 high-achieving women, and each of them were formally recognized by their colleagues for their professional excellence and their tremendous academic accomplishments. But what they figured out, and you might relate to this, was that no matter how many external achievements and acknowledgements they got, they collectively did not get the internal acknowledgement of these achievements. 

These women said that other people overvalued their expertise and their knowledge, that's at least how they felt, or on the other side, people attributed their success to luck. How fun is that to work like crazy on something,  become the top in your field, and people dismiss it saying that you're lucky. So there's a lot in common to these women that struggle with this. A lot of it had to do with a heavy focus on accomplishments while they were in school. It also happened a lot with families that highly emphasized grades and achievements, as well as the culture that they came from. And because there was such a focus on external acknowledgements and achievements, they developed low self-esteem.

It often led to depression and it led to anxiety in many different ways.  So over the next week, we're going to dive into so much of this. It's so hard to reach our potential and not just that, but to enjoy the work that we do. And we're constantly dealing with these mental pressures of feeling like an imposter. And what we see often is because we have this imposter syndrome, we don't really feel like we belong. So we find a way to sabotage it. Often when you deal with imposter syndrome, you have a hard time accepting compliments. Something else they deal with is this need to have to be ‘the best’. There is  also that fear of failure and how that fear of failure holds us back. And so much of it ties into the lessons that we're going to talk about this week. I'm also going to bring to you some facts that are pretty remarkable about people that deal with this.

Something else we'll dive into is this idea that people that deal with imposter syndrome feel that ‘why do I deserve to get this’? When so many people who've worked hard for it don't get it. And the struggle that comes with that, then often in that situation, when we do get it, that's where the self-sabotage comes in because deep down there is  a feeling of unworthiness, because we think that we don't deserve it. And then we'll talk about perfectionism, which is a major hurdle in this area. We’ll also discuss the idea of accepting compliments. People who deal with imposter syndrome often have a difficult time accepting compliments. It’s not only what it does to us that is the problem. It’s also what it does to the people that give it to us and how it affects them negatively as well. Another area we will discuss is the dreaded comparison trap. We all deal with it and we need to learn how to deal with that. 

And there is one final aspect that we will talk about. This one is a positive. We’re going to discuss how you can use this to your advantage. So buckle up this week, as all the weeks are going to be,  this is going to be a fun one. As we dive into how to overcome imposter syndrome to join us tomorrow as we talk about a remarkable fact about these ‘imposters’!

See you tomorrow!