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Unpacking Michelle Obama’s Impostor Syndrome

In a December 2018 talk at an all-girls school in North London, Michelle Obama was asked how she felt about being viewed as a “symbol of hope.” That’s when the former First Lady disclosed something countless millions of women and men around the world experience, but often don’t have a name for. "I still have a little [bit of] impostor syndrome, it never goes away, that you're actually listening to me." Impostor syndrome describes a core belief that we're not as bright or competent or...

Who Do You Think You Are to Not Go for It?

Have you noticed how when you dare to go after a dream, resistance is intent on keeping you small?  The closer you get to believing that you actually can do it, the more likely you are to receive an unwanted visit from that niggling inner voice. The one that demands to know, Who do you think you are? In reality the question you should be asking yourself is Who do I think I am not to go for it?  Whether you know it or not, your actions, and conversely your failure to act, have implications...

How NOT to Determine If You Have Impostor Syndrome

In a recent LinkedIn post a coach shared her unusual method for determining if a client is experiencing impostor syndrome. Her technique comes in the form of a question: Would you rather give a talk in front of 200 people or to 6 senior execs at your company? If the client chooses the audience of 200 people over the small group of execs, the coach informs them they have impostor syndrome. Nonsense. There are a number of valid reasons for choosing the larger audience other than impostor...

Impostor Syndrome does not mean unworthy

Do People With Impostor Syndrome Feel “UnWorthy”?

A licensed therapist/executive coach insists impostor syndrome and lack of confidence in general stem from a belief of feeling unworthy. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, I don’t think the reason Michelle Obama identifies with impostor syndrome is because she feels unworthy. Or for that matter that… * people who work in STEM or in creative fields who are more prone to impostor syndrome * or students whose knowledge and intellect is literally being tested every day * or people who...

10 Steps You Can Use to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

In my more than three decades of speaking and leading workshops on Impostor Syndrome, I’ve spoken to an estimated 500,000 people. Up until just a few years ago, I always ended my talks by giving audiences a list of ten ways to combat impostor syndrome. Audience evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. The one criticism? “I wish she’d given us more solutions.” Or during the Q&A someone would come up to the mic and say, “This was great… but do you have any other solutions?” My response...

My Cure for Impostor Syndrome in 1985 – and Now

I facilitated my first impostor syndrome workshop in 1985. Titled Impostors Fakes and Frauds: Issues of Confidence and Competence for Women it was based largely on the findings from my doctoral research. Since then, some things have changed. For starters, for many years workshop attendees were almost exclusively female students, engineers, professors, attorneys, physicians, and other professionals. No surprise when you consider impostor syndrome is one of the few psychological issues first...

What Do You Say to a Huge YouTube Star With Impostor Syndrome?

It seems every day another successful person reveals they have impostor syndrome. Today it's a Brit named Zoella -- a huge YouTube star with millions of fans. Zoella has not asked for my advice. But if she did, here's what I'd tell her: 1) Normalize impostor syndrome Stop expecting yourself to feel confident 24/7. Everyone has moments of doubt and moments of confidence. It's called life. Some of the brightest, most talented people on the planet have impostor feelings. So, join the club! One...

Are Creative People More Susceptible to Impostor Syndrome?

Have you ever had that, “I’m in over my head and they’re going to find out feeling?” If so, join the club! There are a number of perfectly good reasons why you and millions of other fully capable people experience the so-called impostor syndrome. And when you understand this, you’re able to see your own impostor feelings in less personal and more situational terms. For example, one of the factors that fuels impostor feelings is the kind of work you do. Just ask author Jonathan Safran Foer....

10 Steps You Can Use to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

In my more than three decades of speaking and leading workshops on Impostor Syndrome, my focus has always been to share how to overcome impostor syndrome. I’ve spoken to an estimated 500,000 people and up until just a few years ago, I always ended my talks by giving audiences a list of ten ways to deal with impostor syndrome. Audience evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. The one criticism? “I wish she’d given us more solutions.” Or during the Q&A someone would come up to the mic...

Why Embracing Your Impostor Syndrome is a Really Bad Idea

When asked in an interview if he ever felt like an impostor, Saturday Night Live writer and comedian John Mulaney replied: "Oh yeah. Steve Higgins [a producer for SNL] asked me on one of my first one or two days: ‘You feel like a fraud?’ And I said yes, and he said, ‘Good. ’Cause if you didn’t, you’d be an asshole.’ And it’s really true! If you walk in at 25 and you’re like, ‘I got this,’ you’d be insufferable. A couple people in comedy have pulled that off, but I think embracing how...

Oscar Winner Viola Davis on Impostor Syndrome

Is anyone surprised Viola Davis experiences impostor feelings? For starters, Davis is in a creative field. Which means like other actors, writers, artists her work is constantly being judged by objective standards by people whose job title is "professional critic." Where you're only as good as your last performance, your last book, your last painting and in so many ways you really are starting over each time. Next, let's put impostor syndrome in an even larger social context. As a black...

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