Let's Talk: Imposter Syndrome

With Bethan Davies

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Ever feel like you're just not good enough? Maybe you feel you didn't deserve that promotion and you're going to be found out? If this sounds familiar then you may have imposter syndrome. This constant fear that you aren't good enough is something over 70% of people identify with. It can hold you back from progressing in your career and can foster feelings of anxiety. 

We spoke with the awesome Bethan Davies about imposter syndrome to learn what it is and how to create the right environment for others who may be struggling to silence their inner critic too. 


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Aimee: Hi, I'm Aimee Bateman, CEO and founder of Careercake. And in this video, I've managed to catch up with Bethan Davies. Bethan is one of my favourite people. Apart from being one of my favourite people, she's also the co-founder of The Bravest Path, which is a performance and coaching consultancy, helping people and organisations find a bit of courage. Hi!

Bethan: Hi!

Aimee: It’s really good to catch up with Bethan. Now we're going to be talking about something that our Careercake community talk to us about a lot. And that's imposter syndrome. They don't always use the terminology imposter syndrome. They talk to us about their fears and the issues that they're facing. They don't necessarily use that term. But it's usually stuff like, “I don't feel good enough”, “I feel like a fraud”, “I feel like somebody is going to tap me on the shoulder and be like, ‘Oh yeah, game over. You're not really that smart’” that kind of stuff. I get imposter syndrome all the time too, and all of my friends and all the other people I work with. So, I wanted to talk to you - what is imposter syndrome? Shall we start there?

Bethan: Well, you’re spot on. It is about that constant fear that you're not good enough. So it's often a constant state of like low laying anxiety of that feeling like you're going to be found out; that you’re a fraud, that you’re never achieving what you need to achieve in some way.

Aimee: And it's exhausting. It is so exhausting. So what type of people would you say - because a lot of the time we think that it's just us isn't it? Nobody else feels like this - but what type of people would feel and suffer from imposter syndrome?

Bethan: The research shows that at least 70% of people experience it. 

Aimee: No way. It's got to be more.

Bethan: But that's the thing, because I think when people talk about how they are in life and in work, most of the time this comes up in some area of not feeling good enough. So, imposter syndrome, people often talk about it in work, but it can be at home. It can be in any area of your life. That feeling that you are not clever enough, not smart enough, not experienced enough. Whatever that is and so that can come up for anybody.

Aimee: And where does it come from? Does it only happen when you're doing something you haven't done before? Does it only happen when you're doing something you really care about?

Bethan: That's often when it's loudest. So, if you think about when you're being brave, when you first enter your new role or you're doing something that you haven't got very much experience in and that is often when it can come up. But it can just be underneath the whole time. So it's not specific and it can be in certain circumstances when perhaps you don't know people, that can also come up as well.

Aimee: The fear of judgment and people finding out can be the thing that holds people back the most. And it's like, get out of your own way. If I could just deal with this imposter syndrome, I could achieve this, I could do that. And it's like that little constant monkey on your shoulder.

Bethan: We talk about your inner critic, your gremlin or it’s that voice in your head. And we all have voices in our head. And I mean it sounds crazy but we do. And it's that constant negative self-talk that says you should be doing this better. It's the internal judgment of - what would that person think of me?

Aimee: So you're hearing about imposter syndrome, lots of people are talking about it which is a really positive thing, but why is it such a good thing for us to introduce to people in the workplace within their first decade? Why do people need to be aware that this is a thing? This is an absolute thing. That is a fact. This is happening to people.

Bethan: Because if you know about it, you can talk about it and talking about it is the first step to overcoming it. And actually, in the act of talking about it, then you can find different strategies that work for you.

Aimee: In what situations can it hold you back?

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