AoC Toolbox | Imposter Syndrome (Episode 583)

The Art of Charm (@TheArtofCharm) talks about imposter syndrome and how to cope with the feeling you’ll be uncovered as a fraud for being unworthy of what you’ve worked hard to achieve. [Photo by xmith xmith]

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Do you ever feel like you’ve gotten undeserved reward or recognition from accomplishing something — and it’s just a matter of time before someone uncovers you for the fraud you are?
  • This phenomenon is known as imposter syndrome. Almost everyone experiences this at some point — but it’s especially prevalent among high-performers.
  • Imposter syndrome is often suffered silently, because the person experiencing it usually doesn’t realize it’s not unique to them and that there’s a name for it.
  • What lesson can The Ramones teach us about overcoming imposter syndrome?
  • Learn why keeping a journal helps remind us of what we’ve achieved when we’re in doubt of our credentials.
  • And so much more…

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Have you ever worked hard to get somewhere in life only to feel like you’re not worthy of whatever accolades accompany such an achievement? Are you convinced that it’s just a matter of time before someone discovers your terrible secret and exposes you as the fraud you are?

Back in the ’70s, Clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the term imposter syndrome to describe this phenomenon. Here in the ’10s, The Art of Charm adds this toolbox episode to help listeners cope with the feeling of not being good enough in some area of life. We’ve all been there, and we’re here to tell you it’s all right. Please learn and enjoy!

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More About This Show

This month marks The Art of Charm’s tenth anniversary! But do we deserve to be here? Well, if you’d asked Johnny, AJ, and Jordan at an earlier point along the way, they might confess to experiencing some degree of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is the feeling you get when, even if you’ve worked hard to accomplish something, you feel somehow unworthy of the rewards and recognition of that accomplishment. You struggle with an ever-present fear that you don’t belong and, at any moment, someone will uncover the terrible truth: you’re an imposter!

“You’ve heard about it from Navy SEALs, CEOs, brilliant scientists, and researchers,” says Jordan, “but I would be remiss — I would be lying to you, actually — if I said we didn’t also suffer from the same thing. I can think of nothing more appropriate after doing this for 10 solid years [than] to cover the topic of imposter syndrome, which is something that still creeps in even after a decade.”

While everyone can probably drum up an example of a time when imposter syndrome has infiltrated their thinking, it’s especially pervasive among the high-performers of the world. It’s almost the exact opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which low-performers believe they’re much more competent at something than they really are, which results in a sense of illusory superiority.

“Whereas those on the higher end of the bell curve know what they don’t know,” says Johnny. “They’re going to be uncomfortable doing things they’ve never done before. They know that they’re not going to be so good with those things that it also lends itself to self-doubt, being very critical…and I think that’s what is in common with high-performers.”

So confidence doesn’t equal competence, and it’s clear that delusional thinking strikes both ends of the spectrum. But while the low-performer might brag about their imagined prowess to anyone who will listen, the high-performer stricken with imposter syndrome keeps it to him or herself — not only because they fear discovery, but because they think it’s a problem unique to themselves.

Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell was floored when imposter syndrome was mentioned in our recent interview with him. He understood well the symptoms of what Jordan described to him, but didn’t know it had a name.

“Step number one is identifying what imposter syndrome is and calling it imposter syndrome,” says AJ.

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about how to combat the sense of “phoniness” that imposter syndrome instills, how comparisons with others are incomplete analyses, the commonality of cognitive distortions, the consequences of not identifying and dealing with imposter syndrome, how to decide which thoughts allow you to move forward and which thoughts are holding you back, how The Ramones faked it ’til they made it, how keeping notes and journaling the circumstances of accolades serve to remind us that we’re not imposters during times of doubt, why we need to stop comparing our blooper reels to the highlight reels of others, and lots more.

THANKS, AoC!

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Also sponsored by:

DesignCrowd helps startups and small businesses crowdsource custom graphics, logos, Web design -- even tattoo designs! Check out DesignCrowd.com/Charm for a special $100 VIP offer for our listeners or enter the discount code CHARM when posting a project.

Use coupon code CHARM to get HostGator for 50% off!

If you're only going to take one supplement to boost energy, balance nutrition, and aid digestion, then Athletic Greens -- with its 76 natural ingredients -- is what we recommend. Art of Charm listeners get 50% off here!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 897 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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