Impostor syndrome is a common phenomenon among high-achieving people. The term was reportedly coined in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance while they were studying professional women. It’s the idea that despite hard and unbiased evidence of professional success, a person feels like they are not good enough at whatever it is that they do. They are afraid that others will see them as a fraud.
It’s something that Fast Company assistant editor Pavithra Mohan and I have had to battle throughout our professional lives. I even experimented with different ways to beat it, from reciting cheesy affirmation (which didn’t work), to committing to doing an uncomfortable thing every day (which I found to be effective). But as we both discussed on this week’s episode of Secrets of the Most Productive People, it never quite goes away. We learned that rather than trying to make it disappear, we needed to learn how to act in spite of our impostor syndrome tendencies.
Mohan also spoke to Fast Company contributor Minda Harts, author and CEO of The Memo, about why impostor syndrome is especially prevalent for women of color and underrepresented minorities in the workplace. While there are things that individuals can do to not let impostor syndrome get in the way of their success, workplaces also have a responsibility to ensure that they are creating a better and more inclusive culture.