We’ve all felt it. That creeping sense of dread in the gut, the voices in your head telling you you’re no good. Impostor syndrome a name for that feeling of being a fraud.
People suffering from it tend to put their successes down to luck and others overlooking their flaws, rather than talent.
But experts say that this same feeling of insecurity and self-doubt might actually be a sign that someone is headed for greatness.
Evidence shows that those who have a tendency for the syndrome are driven to perfection and thus most likely to achieve your goals.
Caroline Webb, a behavioural science expert, says that to grow your career you have to get out of your comfort zone. This can lead to feelings of insecurity.
But it is actually a sign of progress and success.
“If you are interested in personal growth and development, by definition you are always going to be pushing yourself into something which is new,” Webb told the Huffington Post.
“And when things are new, of course we don’t feel as comfortable in our skin as when we are doing something which is deeply familiar to us, and which we’ve been doing for five or 10 years,” she added.
Many talented and successful leaders admit to feeling they don’t deserve their job. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and sixth on Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in 2015, admitted to suffering from the syndrome in her book Lean In.
“Fear is at the root of so many barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure,“ Sandberg said.
Kate Winslet, who won an Oscar for her role in The Reader, has said the same.
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud,” she said in Interview magazine.
Psychologists first thought that impostor syndrome affected only professional women, but research by the International Journal of Behavioral Science has proven that men and women feel it equally.
“Anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalise their success,” according to the report.
For Molly Fisher, senior editor at The Cut, we should embrace the syndrome instead of being afraid to be truly successful.
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
1/15 Angela Merkel - German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retained her number one ranking for topping this year’s Forbes list for the fifth consecutive year and ten times in total.
2/15 Hillary Clinton - Presidential candidate, United States
Clinton, who could become the world’s most powerful leader in 2016, has been featured on the list every year since it launched in 2014.
3/15 Melinda Gates - Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000.
4/15 Janet Yellen - Chair, Federal Reserve, Washington, United States
Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve.
5/15 Marry Barra - CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors.
6/15 Christina Lagarde - Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organisation which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. Under Lagarde the IMF has supported efforts to increase female labor force participation as way to reduce poverty and inequality. The UK, Germany, China, France and Korea have endorsed Christine Lagarde for another term as the head of the IMF.
7/15 Dilma Rousseff - President, Brazil
Dilma Rousseff, who has been elected in 2010, is Brazil's first female president.
8/15 Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” joined the company in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later. Sandberg helped the social network go public and expand digital revenue.
9/15 Susan Wojcicki - CEO of Youtube
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube, the world’s most popular digital video platform used by over a billion people across the globe. She oversees YouTube's content and business operations, engineering, and product development.
10/15 Michelle Obama - First lady, United States
Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service.
11/15 Park Geun-hye - President, South Korea
Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of a country that has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. In her inauguration speech, she promised to prioritise both national security and economic revitalisation.
12/15 Oprah Winfrey - Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey, a former queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talkshow. Her 'The Life You Want' tour sold out stadiums from Newark to Seattle in 2014.
13/15 Ginni Rometty - CEO of IBM
Ginni Rometty joined IBM in 1981 and later became the first woman to lead the company.
14/15 Meg Whitman - CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Meg Whitman is the only woman to have headed two large U.S. public companies: eBay and Hewlett-Packard.Until Marissa Mayer's arrival at Yahoo, she was the only female head of a leading Internet-based company.
15/15 Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Mrs. Nooyi leads one of the world’s largest convenient food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion.
Borrowing from Sandberg, Fisher encouraged people to “lean in” to their impostor syndrome. She said that no magical combination of preparation and credentials can ensure that you get what you want, but just because you don’t have everything doesn’t mean you won’t get want you want anyway.
“Nothing really qualifies you for a job besides doing it, and — yes, it’s all true! — whatever success you have attained is in large part the product of luck and charm and circumstances beyond your control. This goes for you, but it also goes for everyone else.” Fisher wrote in New York Magazine.Reuse content