Impostor Syndrome

Are you feeling like an impostor in your team? Are you achieving things other members of your team appraise you for, but you live in fear, day in and day out, that today is the day when you will be exposed as a fraud? Maybe someone incompetent enough to do the job you are doing right now, and earn the paycheck you are receiving at the moment? Do you think that everything you have done, and are doing successfully, is just pure luck and a fluke, and that one day your luck will run out?

Unless you are working on some menial governmental job, and slacking as hell, you are most surely wrong. You have got Impostor Syndrome, a fairly common disorder that is manifesting in highly achieving people. Basically, it means you can’t internalize your accomplishments, and thinking that you are not as intelligent as other people believe you are. You accept all praise with doubt and uncertainty, and await your day of judgment.

The Impostor Syndrome, or phenomenon, as the phrase appeared in the book The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention, is not a psychological problem, but mostly a sociological issue. It is present mostly in highly achieving women, minorities, but there is evidence it occurs in a comparable number of men also. The most effective technique of overcoming it, is to simply recognize it exists, but that can be hard, especially if you do not know about it, or even if you do, can not admit to yourself that you have it, but still leaning on to your story, even if it makes no sense to anyone else but you. Here is where great teammates and managers come in, they must be able to recognize it, because it is happening in the technology sector more that we want to admit. Especially now, that the diversity in technology is finally a topic everyone is talking, and doing something about it. So if you have a coworker, or a subordinate, who is suffering from this syndrome, please point it, and help them. It is a bad state to be in, as paranoia will eat their productivity.

One of the ways to stop the issue is writing, keeping a journal. Then the person suffering from the syndrome can organize and perceive their achievements, they can easier associate them with reality. Also, all the records are there for a later time, when they are feeling the syndrome again, to remind them of the things they have achieved.

It is healthy to want more all the time, but be sure to acknowledge what you have done already, and never let your inner doubts keep you from doing great things.

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