- November 6, 2019
- Leila Johnston
- Creativity, Empathy, Motivation
- Comments Off on Expect things to be good
If you read these sorts of things regularly, or even extremely infrequently, you’ll be very familiar with imposter syndrome. But just in case, here’s Wikipedia:
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Imposter syndrome has been a very popular self-diagnosis in recent years. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that at some point one has to pause, and think:
‘Well, they can’t all have it. Maybe some of these cats genuinely aren’t as good as people say?’
Look, I’m not a doctor. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But this prevalence of feeling personally misunderstood points to something else that’s not often spoken about.
When we assume the worst about ourselves, we assume the worst of others, too.
To connect this to the podcast, for a moment. People often tell me they listened to certain episodes but not others, because they assumed those episodes would be boring or not relevant to them. When encouraged to listen, they generally express surprise there was some value in there, after all! It’s like putting your music on shuffle; give up a bit of control, and you might just gain something unexpected.
How do you silence people’s assumptions? In the podcast example, marketing by the creator can’t cure everything – even though the blame is usually placed with us. The truth is, you can’t silence people’s assumptions at all. People are fundamentally prejudiced, including you.
When you take in what other people have made or said, try to make your prejudice a positive one. Train yourself to expect greatness from others.
Successful people are different to the rest of us, in this respect. I’ve always been able to tell when I’m working with an expert who is well aware they are at the top of their game, because they automatically, unconsciously, expect high quality work from me. Without knowing my field very well, they simply assume I’ll be on their level. They go through life defaulting to this assumption that the people they work with deserve to be there as much as they do. And it serves them well.
Which is not to say that top professionals don’t have ‘imposter syndrome’. I just think it happens slightly differently. Have you seen the fabulous interview between JK Rowling and Oprah? (How often do you see two female billionaires sitting down for a chat? It’s 45 minutes long but worth your time).
At one point, they talk about how they worry their money is going to be taken away from them. I know, sure, Jan. But while they might worry about that, they don’t worry about how fundamentally good they are at what they do. Perhaps they’ve realised there’s absolutely no point stressing that, it’s out of their hands; how good they are is not for them to decide, and never has been.
A diagnosis of imposter syndrome works as well for imposters as non-imposters, which is what concerns me about it.
Instead of dwelling on the idea that we don’t think highly enough of ourselves, let’s explore how we can think more highly of others.
Listen to, read or experience something today that you’d written off or put off as potentially less relevant, lower quality, or ‘boring’. Allow yourself to look for some value in it. What worthwhile things did you find?