Imposter Syndrome

Do you attribute your success to something other than your own intelligence or ability? Are you afraid of being exposed as a fraud?  If yes, then perhaps you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome.  Around 15 staff from around the institution attended a day long workshop on the Imposter Syndrome in July at City.  It could be said that we were all highly talented, successful people who on occasion (or frequently) doubted we were up to the job or had fooled others into thinking we were.  However, I cannot speak for the other participants!

The Imposter Syndrome is gaining recognition and understanding across the sector.  The workshop facilitator, Dr Caron King, has become a perhaps reluctant expert in the field. Caron was a warm, friendly host who gave us a wealth of knowledge, anecdotes and interactivity to increase our insight into the topic and awareness of our own behaviour.

Having the Imposter Syndrome is not necessarily a negative thing and can contribute to future success.  The day was jam packed with activities and information so here are the top five themes I took away that are already proving helpful to me:

1)      If there is something you do not know, ask yourself, do I need to know it?  This concept has been very liberating to me.  As a learning technologist working with academics it can sometimes be perceived as a problem that I don’t have a PhD or research profile and so on.  However, do I need to have that background?  No, that is the field of the academic and s/he doesn’t work with me to achieve those goals.  They work with me because of the things I do know about.

2)      Feeling the Imposter Syndrome can mean that you are overstretched.  Caron talked about comfort zones and how we should aim for a 10% stretch into a new area.  This is sound advice and enables us to build up confidence without becoming overwhelmed.

3)      Know what success looks like.  If we haven’t defined success we cannot know if we have achieved it.  This can be quite important in giving realistic goals.  Perfectionism can be very detrimental and we need to recognise when good is good enough

4)      Caron introduced me to circles of influence.  There are a limited range of things we can conCircles of influence. Image taken from:,r:4,s:0trol, some that we can influence and others that we cannot control at all.  We need to focus on what we can do, what we can change and being positive within those circles.

5)      As a bonus, we also learnt how to create cartoons!  Was fun to try something new and made me think that I could use drawing more, perhaps in my PowerPoints.

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