2 Jul 2020

Imposter syndrome with Jess Stuart

From Afternoons, 1:40 pm on 2 July 2020

Imposter syndrome affects around 70 percent of us at some time in our life, says an expert on the subject Jess Stuart.

The syndrome has two sides, she says. An inability to internalise our achievements and a persistent fear of being found out.

Impostor Syndrome expert, Jess Stuart.

Impostor Syndrome expert, Jess Stuart. Photo: Jess Stuart

“So, it sounds like in your head, one of these days they are going to find out that I’m not as good as they think I am.”

According to research 70 percent of us experience it regardless of gender, she says.

It has been regarded as more prevalent among women, but she says that is likely because the first research on the subject focussed on women experiencing the syndrome.

“The work I’ve been doing with this over the last few years I’ve found that there are plenty of men out there that experience this too.”

Imposter syndrome tends to curtail peoples’ willingness to take on challenges, Stuart says.

“What will happen if you have imposter syndrome is you’ll have this self-doubt so you’ll tend to play it safe to avoid failure so in your job you might not put your hand up for a promotion that you are more than qualified for because you fear being found out or you worry that you’re not good enough.”

Overcoming persistent feelings of self-doubt allows us to grow, she says.

“I guess that’s what we miss out on if we let the imposter syndrome run riot, because we will always err on the side of caution and stay in our comfort zone and we say to ourselves it’s better the devil you know and so I won’t put myself out there in case I fail.”

The syndrome will never completely go away, she says but will ebb and flow.

“It just tends to get louder and quieter depending where you are in life. So, it tends to rear its head when we get out of our comfort zone.”

There are a strategies to help offset imposter syndrome, she says.

“Two of the most popular ones I talk about are celebrating our successes, because we do spend a lot of time focussing on things that went wrong

“And also knowing our strengths. We tend to not talk about our strengths too much, or even know what our strengths are, and when we focus on that stuff it helps that voice of imposter syndrome become a little quieter.”

She says mentors in the workplace can be a help and has seen this in work she has done with women.

“When I bring groups of women together one of the things that they find most useful is being in a room with people that have similar challenges and to talk about experiences and how we’ve overcome them.

“So, surrounding yourself with people that know what it’s like to be you and have overcome those challenges is really key on this journey.”

Jess Stuart is running a workshop on the subject and an online summit In Her Words.

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