Is Impostor Syndrome Good?
There’s a narrative floating around lately about Impostor Syndrome being a good thing.
I disagree. It’s NOT good, and I don’t want people to seek it out. In fact, as an expert in the topic, I show my clients why it’s a problem in their organization, and how my solution can help.
So, let’s do some “point-counterpoint.”
1. “Impostor syndrome can drive personal development.”
Nope. People seek personal development because that’s just who they are, not because they feel inadequate. They are lifelong curious learners, buoyed by achievement. With or without doubts, they’d still work hard.
2. “Impostor Syndrome makes you work harder to prove yourself and gain the skills needed to succeed.”
Nope. You can’t fake a consistently strong work ethic or a hunger for knowledge. Sometimes a person may push to learn something or work hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re trying to prove themselves. And even people who don’t experience impostor syndrome work hard to gain skills and knowledge.
3. “Having impostor syndrome fosters empathy towards others who experience it, creating a more supportive community.”
Sorta nope: Empathy and compassion are developed over a lifetime through self-aware introspection and spiritual convictions. They’re not triggered by a sense of inadequacy, and in fact, are suppressed by it. Impostor syndrome is rooted in shame; until that is addressed, you’ll stay paralyzed and feel inadequate. Once you address your impostor syndrome, then you’ll create a more supportive environment, because you’ll be released from the angst, and able to be more involved with the people around you.
4. “Impostor syndrome makes people seek help from others, leading to more professional growth.”
Sorta nope. People with Impostor Syndrome don’t ask for help because they secretly think, “If I was really smart, I should be able to do it by myself.” Until they see this as a fallacy, they simply will not delegate or ask for help, no matter how much encouragement they get. And even then, asking for help will still feel like a massive leap of pride-swallowing faith into an abyss of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
5. “People can use Impostor Syndrome to their advantage to achieve more.”
Nope. The single most significant barrier preventing people from reaching their greatest potential and giving their best effort is not a lack of confidence, or lack of opportunity. It is Impostor Syndrome. It masquerades as other issues like boredom, burnout and high turnover. In fact, recent data from a Nerd Wallet survey of UK Executives reveal that “…59% of respondents had either thought about leaving or had left their job due to impostor syndrome, with an additional 31% considering doing so but not yet following through.”
I don’t see any of that as good. I’d much rather see people do the work to get through impostor syndrome than simply live with it. It is way more fun, rewarding, and constructive