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Do you feel like an imposter? by Aldara B. Dios

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right”
Henry Ford

In front of a full and expectant room, Kate Atkin started her remarkable talk on 23rd April asking us the questions: “What do YOU want to know? What do YOU want me to answer?” that was the beginning of a great and interactive workshop about the impostor phenomenon; it’s not a syndrome – she quickly clarified – and what lies behind success.

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The audience had a lot of questions. Some of them were about how to recognise the phenomenon: What is it? Does it affect women more than men or older people than younger? Does it depend on culture or family?

Others tried to understand the phenomenon: Does it have advantages? How to avoid it? How to recognise it? we even had a sarcastic: Is it another feminist nonsense?

So, what is the imposter phenomenon? 

As Kate put it “It is an intense feeling of intellectual phoniness despite one´s success”. It happens to successful people, and although it was first detected in women in academia now men and women from all over the world experience it. People like Michelle Obama, Art Garfunkel or Robin Ince have suffered from it and some studies say that up to 70% of all professionals will or have suffered with it.

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The imposter phenomenon it is not about having doubts the first time we do something. It is about still doubting ourselves after having done something successfully several times.

How to control it?

First thing: not everything has to be perfect and we have to learn to fail. Recognise our own patterns, perhaps you think that you are successful because you’ve worked harder than other people, when in fact, you should acknowledge your our own skills and abilities. Understand that success comes from expertise and know-how.

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Do you feel like an imposter? Kate recommended focusing on your successes: Make a confidence wall with all the things you are proud of or start a success log. Take control of your thoughts, take note of the positive feedback and finally avoid the dreaded “Yes,… but”…

As always, Kate delivered an engaging and amusing talk, full of useful facts and very enjoyable.

Thank you all for coming, and thank you, Kate.

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