Are you a phony?
What am I doing here? I am not qualified for this? I hope they don’t find out who I really am?
Ever had these questions run through your mind?
These are seeds of doubt in the human psyche; they are associated with a well known psychological concept named the Imposter Phenomenon, also known as the Imposter Syndrome.
This thought process is most commonly associated with one’s chosen occupation, educational achievement or career advancement. These thoughts are prevalent with over-achievers and those who have perfectionistic tendencies. However, they are not limited to these types of individuals.
There has been many studies surrounding the Imposter Phenomenon, but early research performed by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s explains “impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” Since the original work, there have been many follow up studies that confirm this is a human condition that is not limited to a specific race, sex or economic class.
Kirsten Weir explains in a summary of the imposter phenomenon, “The impostor phenomenon seems to be more common among people who are embarking on a new endeavor….”
A call to something greater
I would like to propose the idea that — before anyone has the opportunity to experience the imposter phenomenon, they must first pass many levels of doubt and obstacles to get to the point in life that they are currently questioning.
At some point in time they decided to answer a call to something greater.
Psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankl explains that we all must decide our own answer to the call of life.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
We must believe that we have the opportunity to create our very own unique reality.
This life that each of us lives is calling out for greatness, for uniqueness, for a response to the question — what will you do with this gift of life you have been given?
We get to choose the answer to this question that is asked of us. We get to create because we were gifted dynamic minds and talents unique only to us.
Instead of questioning self, we should only become concerned with answering life — by recognizing that this life is calling for something great and that we get to choose how we will answer. There is no trace of imposter in us, and because we define ourselves, there is no substitute for who we are. Each of us is talented like no other, and each of us chooses to answer the question that life has asked.
Ways to debunk the imposter phenomenon:
We must realize that our identity is not determined by our profession or lack thereof. We were not designed to fit into a specific profession. We are given the aptitude and opportunity to train for and accept a position or career.
Our identity can never be at risk of being found out if we know who we are and believe in our own unique design.
We must realize that our life is a vessel. The things we pour into our life will eventually manifest as a physical, psychological or emotional reality. When we think of our life as a vessel, we can imagine filling a pitcher with fluid; when we continue to pour into our pitcher of life, things will eventually spill over and flow out of our life. We must be careful and intentional about what we are pouring into our life. We are responsible for our vessel and what flows out of it.
King David of Israel, the writer of the Psalms, said “search your own heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.”
We have to realize that — to flourish and guard against the “Imposter Phenomenon”, we must grow. To grow, we must change. When we accept new roles, to include leadership roles, we will have to change and grow into them and very likely out of them. If we expect change and look for the opportunity in it, we will not resist or fear it. We should look for opportunities to grow through learning.
Every time we learn something new, we grow a little. In order to take on the right changes, we should be knowledge seekers.
Lastly, we must realize that we have been created to live a life of abundance. Our very own cells teach us that multiplication is a fundamental truth about who we are. Since we are designed to multiply, our lives should reflect growth. Since our nature is abundant in design, we can be confident that we are meant to grow and progress through life. By design we were meant to flourish, thrive and learn.
You are unique in your design and have the ability to learn, create and multiply, the only decision left, is how you will answer the question this life is asking.
“Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself”