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What is the impostor syndrome?
The impostor syndrome describes the countless millions of people who do not experience an inner sense of competence or success. Despite often overwhelming evidence of their abilities impostors dismiss them as merely a matter of luck, timing, outside help, charm--even computer error. Because people who have the impostor syndrome feel that they’ve somehow managed to slip through the system undetected, in their mind it’s just a matter of time before they’re found out.
Your book is about women--do men feel like impostors or is this a female issue?
Initially psychologists suspected it was something experienced primarily by women. That has proven not to be the case. Men are attending my seminars in increasing numbers, and among graduate students the male-female ratio is roughly fifty-fifty. I’ve heard from or worked with countless men who suffer terribly from their fraud fears, including a member of the Canadian mounted police and an attorney who argued before the Supreme Court.
In the end, I decided there were more reasons than not to focus on women. For starters my early doctoral research looked specifically at women. Second, 80 percent of my speaking engagements come at the request of women for their female employees or students. More importantly, I aimed the book at women of because chronic self-doubt tends to hold them back more.
Can men who experience the impostor syndrome benefit from this book?
In a word--absolutely! All the more so if they are a man of color, have working-class roots, or identify with any of the other “at-risk.” Similarly, if they know, teach, manage, mentor, parent, or coach a male or groups of males who are susceptible to the impostor syndrome, they will gain greatly from this book as well.
What would be one piece of advice from you to women entering the workforce (or academics) at any stage, with regards to impostor syndrome?
Impostors, and women especially, have seriously misguided notions about what it takes to be competent. Bar none the fastest way to kick the impostor feeling is to adopt what I’ve dubbed the Competence Rulebook for Mere Mortals which has as its cardinal rule, competence doesn’t mean you need to know everything, to do it all yourself, or to do everything perfectly or effortlessly. Instead competence is being able to identify the resources it takes to get the job done.
Do you think it's ever too late to become a "successful" woman?
Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 80 years old and that, of her over 1,500 paintings, 25 percent were produced when she was past 100. As Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name, George Eliot, once said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” It’s also never too late to be the confident, self-affirming person you were meant to be. Just remember to define success on your own terms.
What's one mistake that you've seen even the most experienced women make?
Whether it’s male bravado, denial, or, as some have argued, brain hardwiring, men generally don’t hold onto their failures and mistakes the way women do--at least not with the same intensity or longevity. Women can turn the same scene over and over in their mind. Depending on the magnitude of your alleged offense, an incident that took all of ten seconds to occur may take you days or even months to get over.
Unfortunately it’s easy for women to take a man being less rattled to mean he’s more competent--or at least more confident--which to the untrained eye is often mistaken as one and the same.
What is one easy thing we can do to overcome that voice inside our heads?
Separate feelings from fact. For example everyone feels stupid from time to time. In fact I can pretty much guarantee that sometime in the next 24-48 hours every person on the planet will have an opportunity to feel stupid. In these moments you need to remember, just because you feel stupid, does not mean you are stupid.
This book is not only informative, it's absolutely crucial to feeling like "you are not alone." Dr. Young is personable and intelligent, and I'm so glad I bought this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ellen Moorhouse
Great book but the title is a little misleading. This doesn't just apply to successful women but rather all women and men. Read morePublished 3 months ago by another employee
I was given this book as a gift and it really was a gift. I had been struggling with underachieving and discounting my successes. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Winnie Anderson
Well-written, devoid of psychobabble, and unexpectedly relatable. Having long felt disconnected from accomplishments I succumbed to this book as a last-ditch effort to understand... Read morePublished 9 months ago by kathleen m russo
This book has great advice and examples and I highly recommend it to anyone making a major career transition or graduating from schoolPublished 20 months ago by Ellie
This book helped me identify some things about myself. It gave me a perspective that I have not considered. I am motivated to trust myself more and to fulfill my life purpose.Published 23 months ago by Rosalyn L Glenn
This book is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position, as well as anyone who thinks s/he may not be "good enough". Read morePublished 24 months ago by Alina
How many times have I thought that I achieved some measure of success because I was likable? How many times have I thought that I was going to be found out as the fraud I surely... Read morePublished on September 23, 2013 by Elke Ridenour
In a world of people scared to take action, scared to choose themselves, scared to make a leap of faith and trust themselves, comes a resource for every person (not just women)... Read morePublished on September 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer