Maya Angelou famously said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out!’” This phenomenon of feeling less capable or talented than people think—despite ample evidence to the contrary—is known as imposter syndrome, and it impacts 70% of the population. So, how does imposter syndrome impact our behavior? And what can we do about it?
Today, we’re joined by Dr. Valerie Young, the internationally recognized authority on imposter syndrome and author of the award-winning book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It. Valerie’s career advice has been cited in media outlets such as BBC Radio, CNN Money, The Wall Street Journal and O Magazine, just to name a few. She has been invited to speak at 90-plus universities around the globe and for prestigious corporate clients such as Boeing, Facebook and Microsoft.
Valerie begins by defining imposter syndrome and explaining how it manifests differently in men and women. She walks us through the ‘perfectly good reasons why you might feel like a fraud,’ sharing the social and situational factors that fuel self-doubt. Valerie also discusses the concept of stereotype threat and offers examples of how being an outlier influences our behavior. Listen in for insight around the coping mechanisms we use to protect ourselves from imposter syndrome and learn how to reframe imposter thoughts and replace them with new ways of thinking!
Themes explored in this week’s episode:
- How Valerie defines imposter syndrome and her personal experience with feeling like an imposter
- The perfectly good reasons why you might feel like a fraud
- How imposter syndrome manifests differently in men vs. women
- Examples of icons who own up to imposter syndrome and why creatives are more susceptible
- Why it’s crucial for leaders to understand imposter syndrome and how it impacts our behavior at work
- How people who don’t feel like imposters think differently about competence, failure and fear
- How people with imposter syndrome minimize or discount their accomplishments
- The concept of stereotype threat and how it affects our behavior
- The connection between imposter syndrome and overachieving or overproducing
- How to use Valerie’s list of rights as a foundation for managing imposter syndrome
Resources from this episode:
- Connect with Valerie at impostersyndrome.com
- Follow @ValerieYoung on Twitter or Facebook
- Buy Valerie’s book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women
- Read the Clance & Imes paper on the Imposter Phenomenon
- Access Valerie’s blog post on Michelle Obama
- Explore the research around the Dunning-Kruger Effect
- Read Betty Rollin’s article in The New York Times
- Look at Claude Steele’s work on stereotype threat
- Watch Valerie’s TED Talk on imposter syndrome
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