- wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain
- a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
Imposter syndrome, imposter phenomenon or fraud syndrome is when high-achieving individuals are unable to accept or internalize their accomplishments and have this persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
It’s like we can’t accept that we’re good at something, or that we know more about something than the general public, and the biggest fear of it comes from this idea of being “found out” and that someone out there is going to see you for the fraud you are and expose you, ruining your reputation.
Even just writing about this is giving me that same feeling of anxiety. It’s like somehow just writing about this is going to expose me. How ridiculous is that?
I feel it most right before I’m going to put out a big project, or start a coaching session with a new client. Both of which I’ve been doing quite a bit of lately.
And what have I found to help? To mostly ignore it, to repeat over and over to myself, you are not a fraud, you are not a fraud, you are not a fraud.
I distinctly remember feeling this as I ran down the side of a mountain in Poland with Michael. I was wearing a garbage bag as a rain jacket, my tennis shoes destroyed with mud, and I just said out loud, almost shouting, “I am a fraud! I do not belong here! What was I thinking hiking up the side of this mountain?"
But life is about putting ourselves into those situations where we feel like frauds. It’s how we grow.
We have our comfort zone — that safe, cozy, warm little box full of all the things we know we’re good at and places we feel comfortable in. But the challenge, and the goal in life, is reaching for something that’s just outside that box, grabbing it, learning about it, accomplishing it, showing ourselves we can do it. And our little box of comfort grows a bit bigger as we add that thing to it. But then you have to reach out again, and again for things that make you feel that discomfort, that fear.
It’s a terrifying thought, but oh the feeling that comes along with succeeding? It feels so good.
Here’s some thoughts I wanted to leave you with:
+ know that this exists, and it is a byproduct of success
+ almost everyone experiences it, from average gals to mega celebrities
+ don’t discount compliments and positive feedback
+ accept the fact that you’re good at something
+ quit comparing yourself to those around you
+ accept that perfection does not exist
+ quit avoiding situations that you think you aren’t qualified for, go after them
+ deconstruct what recent success, big project, accomplishment spurred these feelings
What was a recent time that you felt like a "fraud", what spurred that feeling, and what did you do about it?