Overcoming 'Imposter Syndrome' to Recognize Your Own Success
Many people think they don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved
Is “imposter syndrome” real? Unfortunately, for many people it is. I have worked in corporate America, advanced to executive-level leadership roles, and participated in leadership support groups for women and people of color. Based on my experience, I can attest to the anxiety-inducing effects imposter syndrome can have.
Introduced in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, this phenomenon was then defined as a self-perceived fear of intellectual phoniness. Though popular culture frequently adopts the term imposter “syndrome,” the terms “phenomenon” or “experience” are more appropriate as they don’t connote a clinical diagnosis or suggest permanence.
Understanding of the phenomenon has expanded over time to include feelings of not belonging, undervaluing your competence, and attributing your success to luck or other external factors. The experience is pervasive: A 2020 study in the Journal of General Medicine found that up to 82 percent of respondents faced feelings of impostor phenomenon, including that they hadn’t earned what they had achieved.
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