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.
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.
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