Imposter Syndrome : Part 1

If we had a pound for every time we’ve seen founders feel inadequate and think they don’t have what it takes to become incredible, we’d shift the Australian economy right back to the British currency.

The thing is, most of the time all of the evidence points to the fact that these individuals are intelligent, high potential and are capable of going through the process of growing into incredible founders.

What’s actually holding them back is just a healthy dose of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is that voice in the back of your head telling you that all of your accomplishments can’t be attributed to you, and you’re not as good as people tend to think. Attributing your successes to pure luck, or some big mistake that no-one has realised.

The outcome of this syndrome (or phenomenon) is often a feeling that you’re not as good as those around you. Followed by a crippling fear that someone will figure this out and expose to the world that you’re a giant fraud.

Feelings that can be so crippling that it can actually stop high potential founders from ever starting.

But imposter syndrome doesn’t just affect founders and ‘wanna be’ founders. oh no! It’s incredibly common for people from all backgrounds and professions. It’s just that not many of us talk about it.

In fact, it has been estimated that nearly 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their life.

That means 7/10 successful startup founders. 7/10 Hollywood actors. 7/10 politicians. 7/10 people that you look up to. 7/10 of the most confident and established people in this world.

For many, the experience of imposter syndrome goes something like this;

  1. You get anxious about doing a task or project that feels out of your depth - so you procrastinate, spend too much time on it or rush to finish it.
  2. Phew. You’re glad that task is done. So you feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.
  3. People see your work and try to tell you what a great job you did. But from where you stand, you don’t deserve the praise because it’s not perfect so they’re just saying it to be nice.
  4. And of course, you then feel anxious again and inadequate.

So the real question is - have you ever experience imposter syndrome? And do you feel that it’s stopping you from reaching your full potential?

If so, never fear! Imposter syndrome is something we can work through.

Next week we’ll be unpacking imposter syndrome a little more in Part 2 of this series, and providing you with a few tips to help you release the grips it has over your achievements.

To show you just how common it is, here are five noteworthy people who have publicly spoken about their experience with imposter syndrome:

A - Emma Watson

“When I was younger, I just did it. I just acted. It was just there. So now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an impostor. It was just something I did.’

B - David Bowie

“I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing. … I was driven to get through life very quickly. I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”

C - Arianna Huffington

“The greatest obstacle for me has been the voice in my head that I call my obnoxious roommate. I wish someone would invent a tape recorder that we could attach to our brains to record everything we tell ourselves. We would realise how important it is to stop this negative self-talk. It means pushing back against our obnoxious roommate with a dose of wisdom.”

D - Jennifer Lopez

“Even though I had sold 70 million albums, there I was feeling like “I’m no good at this.”

E - Daniel Radcliffe

‘I think the most creative people veer between ambition and anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. I definitely can relate to that. We all go through that: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Is this what I’m meant to be doing?”‘