The Remedy for Impostor Syndrome: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

sfI have stage 5 impostor syndrome. Most of us do in some part of our lives. It tends to show up more in my professional life. After doing some research I found out some interesting stuff…. Looks like I’m not alone…..

The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first identified in the late 1970s by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Their researched showed that many high-achieving women tended to believe they were not intelligent and that they were over-evaluated by others.

People who have Impostor Syndrome “experience intense feelings that their achievements are undeserved and that they’re likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a report in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

Psychologists first thought that Impostor Syndrome affected only professional women, but research has proved that men and women feel it equally. The profession you’re in doesn’t matter. It’s been found in college kids, academics, managers, and medical workers. Actual success doesn’t matter either.

According to the same report, “anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalize their success.” ( Breena Keer,Why 70% of Millennials Have Impostor Syndrome, November,15, 2015)

A quick rundown of how impostor syndrome works. (Thanks Hustle). I’ve found discerning between amateurs and professionals can be helpful. Then, Farnam Street blessed my inbox with a post about that.

  • Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
  • Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
  • Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.
  • Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.
  • Amateurs value isolated performance. Think about the receiver who catches the ball once on a difficult throw. Professionals value consistency. Can I catch the ball in the same situation 9 times out of 10?
  • Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.
  • Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do.
  • Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games.
  • Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.
  • Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice.
  • Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.
  • Amateurs focus on first-level thinking. Professionals focus on second-level thinking.
  • Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when outcomes are the result of luck.
  • Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term.
  • Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.
  • Amateurs make decisions in committees so there is no one person responsible if things go wrong. Professionals make decisions as individuals and accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.

For me, It comes down to celebrating all successes big and small. Another tactic I will try to make happen more often is understanding that all my successes are connected to a core set of capabilities and skills that allow for long term success. Having a bigger picture view of my capabilities and achievements will help put my impostor syndrome in check.