Have you ever had the feeling that people will eventually realize that you are a fraud; that you do not deserve your professional recognition and achievements; finally, that this will eventually become evident to your colleagues, your clients or your friends? If you ever felt like that, you should know that you are not the only one! This is a popular phenomenon among professionals, especially those who begin their own businesses, known under the term “impostor syndrome” (or imposter, take your pick!). What is important is that five types of imposter syndrome exist and may affect your business and its success.
Imposter syndrome describes the mindset –and subsequent behavior- that a person has about themselves making them feeling doubtful about their abilities, their know-how, their skills, and their achievements. At the same time, the person makes non-stop inner negative critic. They also keep fearing of imminent failure, if they attempt to move forward and show their professional expertise. This also leads them in having a great difficulty in making serious decisions concerning their business and business’ success.
It may sound as a paradox, but imposter syndrome usually affects high-achieving people. It leads them feel undeserving of recognition, accolades and monetary reward.
Imposter syndrome was initially described by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. According to this, a person believes that their success is strictly a product of luck, and not of skills, talent or qualifications.
Five Types of Imposter Syndrome Behaviors
Imposter syndrome can produce several distinct behaviors. Let’s see the five most frequent among them.
The genius have skills of one kind coming easily and naturally. Still, sometimes they need to put effort to achieve something, maybe because it calls for other skills. If such an occurrence happens, they end up believing that they are not good enough, because they have to put effort. Due to that, they actually deduce that they are imposters and without value.
The superheroes constantly overwork themselves. They want to prove to the others that they are “good enough” and not imposters. They struggle to greatly achieve in every aspect of their lives: professional, personal, social and financial. Finally, the superheroes feel great discomfort, when they believe that they do not achieve their goals.
This category of imposter syndrome concerns people who feel insecure, unless they know every bit of information prior to starting a project. They continuously search to obtain new qualifications through new training. They are afraid that their knowledge isn’t sufficient to pursue their ideas. The experts also hesitate to apply for any job, unless they meet 100 % the criteria of the post. They prefer not to provide their professional opinion or even ask a relevant to their job question, by fear of appearing as clueless and not relevant.
They are also known as the soloists. Lonely wolves believe that they need to do everything on their own, in order to prove their value. If they need to ask for assistance or if they need to work in a team, they feel that others will characterize them as imposters or failures.
The perfectionists set very high expectations for themselves. They are very strict with themselves; even if they meet most of their goals, they mainly focus on the ones so far not accomplished. Because of that, they mostly call themselves “failures”, disregarding all of their success and prosperity coming from it.
Imposter syndrome and You
Experiencing imposter syndrome restrains you from showing your potential and sharing your know-how and expertise with people, who would benefit from it. It is understandable that no one is omniscient and no one is errorless. That is part of the learning process of life. What is important is to realize that you know something that some others don’t. By sharing your less-than-perfect know-how with them will definitely be beneficial to them. During that process, you will also accumulate more experience and knowledge. You wil later be able to share this know-how with more interested people.