Men Suffer from Imposter Syndrome Too…

Imposter Syndrome. The constant dread that we will get ‘found out’. The worry and anxiety that we simply haven’t got the skills or experience to deliver what’s being asked of us. Originally termed ‘imposter phenomenon’ it was coined by American psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who published an article called “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” in the 1978 journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. 

In the words of Merriam-Webster, Imposter Syndrome is a real term for people who think they are faking it, but aren’t. 

I hear this so often from the clients I work with. Just this week I was with a client who boldly stated “I wing it every single day”. And what amazes me when I hear this (and I hear it a lot) is how brilliant these individuals actually are. It is so obvious this particular client is bright, intelligent, phenomenally capable, a strong people leader, inquisitive, etc. I could go on and on. Yet what I think or fellow colleagues and friends think is irrelevant. If I or you do not have that strength within, that inner belief, confidence and love for ourselves then we will be plagued by this idea we are faking it. 

Fear and Over Analysis 

It can be quite crippling this Imposter Syndrome. The sense of having to work ever harder. The fear of asking a ridiculous question. The concern that the reports, presentations, projects we are accountable for, simply won’t make the cut. The need for perfectionism, over analysis, seeking perspectives, reassurance and validation from others can drive us to despair. We sense overwhelm building and once in the grip, we cannot seem to pull ourselves from the mire.  

This week, I caught up with a friend I’ve known for a number of years. We were having coffee when I heard the words, “Can I ask your advice?”. “Of course” I reply wondering what was coming next. 

What followed was a gut-wrenching, heart-felt, honest appraisal of where he honestly believed he was at. He described a role he had taken on a couple of years ago with promises of even bigger and better things being made by the bosses at the time. But in the last few weeks, his world had come crumbling down. He’d been called into the office by his boss who asked him to take on a role that he was shocked to be asked to do. It was a job he saw as a down grade and operating completely out of his brilliance. A role he would have relished some 15 years ago.  The work he wanted to do was being carved up and taken elsewhere. He felt let down. It was palpable to see his confidence at rock bottom.  

He was asking me about the market opportunities. He was absolutely coming from a place of fear and dread. Despite many years of experience and a clear passion for his work, his light had been well and truly dimmed. Whilst we talked through the myriad of opportunities available to him, he simply did not think he was good enough.  He felt as though he too did not have the skills, capability or experience to do the types of role he wanted to. That ‘imposter syndrome’ had well and truly caught hold of my friend. 

Putting on our Armour 

I do not underestimate how difficult it can be when we are the main breadwinner and in a role that we don’t feel ‘good enough’ to do. That horrible pull inside when we have to put our armour on every day, that need to keep digging deep, hoping the answers will come. 

And yet, Imposter Syndrome, can offer some hope. Often that inner sense we are ‘faking it’ drives us on. It makes us want to be better. It sets us up on a course for learning, for growth, for pushing ourselves, for ever expanding. But rather like the volume on the radio being too loud at times, that inner voice or gremlin as Rick Carson once coined, has to be managed. If it gets hold it can wreak havoc with our performance, our motivation and our self-image. 

Meet Kate Atkin, leading expert on Imposter Syndrome 

Kate Atkin, is a leading expert in the UK on Imposter Syndrome. I am super thrilled that she is coming to the WLA’s International Women’s Day Conference on 5th March. If you would like to hear her speak and be involved in her workshop, then why not get yourself a ticket to the event. Kate is not the only amazing inspirational speaker we have attending – we have a raft of business leaders, workshop specialists, inspiring motivational speakers to lift you up and give you incredible insights and learnings.  

For more information and to book your ticket take a look here: International Women’s Day Conference 2020 




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