But how big a problem is Imposter Syndrome today and how do we tackle it?
Global negotiator and leading mental health speaker Andrew Pain works with governments all over the world. He has a list of achievements longer than a cargo train (not to mention his books, all of them best-sellers) but that’s not to say he’s never felt out of his depth. In certain scenarios, Andrew often felt ‘the imposter’ simply playing the role of a renowned speaker rather than believing in his ability to motivate and inspire those he spoke to.
Andrew was confident in his subject; he knew he was a good communicator, and when given the opportunity, he was excited to speak on the infamous TEDx stage. However, 4 weeks before the event, TEDx released the names of the other speakers taking to the stage that day, and this sent Andrew into a panic and a whirlwind of thought;
Unravelling the Imposter
Most people talk about Imposter Syndrome as a single condition, but Andrew believes that there are two types of Imposter Syndrome:
Mild Imposter Syndrome: it’s temporary, it comes and goes and increases our levels of anxiety in certain social interactions or in moments of high performance or decision making. It doesn’t prevent action but it makes the action more stressful than it needs to be.
Severe Imposter Syndrome: it’s all-consuming, it never goes away and prevents people from sharing their knowledge/insights. It holds people back from applying for jobs which might stretch their skills or speaking up in team/board meetings. It can lead to self-loathing and bitter regret and left unchecked, it can grow into extreme anxiety and longer-term depression.
Andrew believes that recognising both extremities matters because the simple, self-management techniques, which may kick mild imposter syndrome into touch, won’t work as effectively with severe imposter syndrome. Severe imposter syndrome is surmountable, but a deeper and more holistic approach is required.
Andrew’s highly sought-after keynote talk discusses how we can tackle Imposter Syndrome. His methodology invites audiences to create 3 new ‘assumptions’ about success and value, because without adjusting your assumptions, Andrew says that tackling Imposter Syndrome will always be an uphill battle.
Using these ‘assumptions’ as the foundation for his keynote talks, Andrew provides his audience with top takeaways so they can master the skills to prevent feeling like the Imposter.
The 3 Phases, Explained.
As Andrew explains, there are 3 phases of learning, The Moronic Phase, The Mediocre Phase and The Mastery Phase. However, many of us never pass the Moronic Phase, out of fear of looking silly. It could be learning the piano or learning to drive – but as you start something new, chances are you’ll look like and feel like a moron while you learn this new skill. And this is in the moronic phase of learning.
Once we accomplish this, we enter the mediocre phase: You’re not great but you’re ok. No one is laughing anymore or feeling sorry for you, and it feels good to know you’ve progressed, but there is so much more you need to do to move beyond this phase. It’s no longer painful or embarrassing as you trudge forward. Depending on how much you choose to invest, you’ll either stay in this phase or you’ll press on.
If you choose to press on, you’ll enter the mastery phase: You’re a rock star and the people who laughed at you in the moronic phase are now wishing they were you. To remain in the mastery phase requires ongoing effort, but there is no embarrassment. Even if on a bad day, you don’t believe you deserve the admiration from others, on a good day, you can at least recognise that you’re pretty good! Getting here has cost you and you’re conscious of the sacrifices made.
What causes Impostor Syndrome isn’t exactly known. However, Andrew’s research concludes that;
Some people have linked Imposter Syndrome to childhood trauma, competitive parents, or years spent working in results-driven environments.
And with the term, ‘Imposter Syndrome’, topping 74,000 as a Google Search term in October 2021 (a 511% increase on the numbers from October 2016) it’s worrying to think that the issue could be getting worse.
If 70% of the global population has experienced Imposter Syndrome at one stage or another, then perhaps it is just that the human need to belong and be accepted has always run deep in our psyche, so much so, that it creates an irrational fear of being ousted and exposed as an imposter.
However, when the human need for acceptance with the unhelpful, 21st-century social media habits, where many of us soak up a daily barrage of information about everyone else’s good bits, driving us to compare ourselves with others more than ever: we shouldn’t be surprised that so many people feel inadequate in our day-to-day lives.
Delivering coaching, group workshops and keynote talks, Andrew Pain is an approved TEDx Mental Health speaker and an ICF-accredited coach. He inspires meaningful change and delivers practical strategies on critical aspects of leadership development, With talks on Imposter Syndrome, Mental Health in the Workplace, Resilience and Domestic Abuse, Andrew is a unique speaker with many motivational key takeaways that audiences can utilize in their everyday lives.
Alongside his coaching and speaking career, Andrew is a campaigner and advocate for all victims of domestic abuse, having personally experienced abuse in a former marriage, focussing on supporting all victims of abuse regardless of gender. He works with a number of charitable ventures including domestic abuse and homelessness. You can watch his Tedx Talk – Domestic Violence Isn’t Gendered, here.
Andrew has experience in business workshops, keynote speaking, conference speaking, corporate events, leadership talks, private events, motivational speaking, public speaking and virtual events, and will be more than happy to tailor his presentation to your specific brief.
Or if you’re after a female speaker than why not hire motivational mental health speaker Poorna Bell – advocate on women’s health and expert on imposter syndrome.
Click HERE to view Poorna’s Interview for @shemeansbusiness all about Imposter Syndrome and how to overcome it! To book Imposter Syndrome Speaker Poorna Bell for your next corporate talk or event call +44 1753 439 289 or email Jane Farnham and Steve Denison at Great British Speakers.