A Pragmatic Approach to Imposter Syndrome.


Impostor Syndrome. I have heard the term a great deal lately. I wanted to get a better understanding of what it exactly was, so I searched for a definition to reflect on- The first one that came up when I searched define imposter syndrome was this- From 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 skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”


I spent some time reflecting on the definition, and some of it fit, and some of it didn’t. I looked at the last statement- persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.


I don’t experience that at all. I don’t consider myself a fraud. I do believe that it shows up for me in a different way. For example, when I am creative, working on my blog, my podcast, my novel, or taking photos. I have these thoughts that someone will show up and tell me that I don’t belong in the room, that I don’t have permission to be here. This isn’t a denial of my skills or abilities. It just means that I tell myself I need to pay some imaginary dues or climb a ladder or pay respect to someone.


 Calling yourself a fraud is an Ad Hominem attack that you don’t need to launch on yourself. Rather than doubting your skills or being afraid of being a fraud, I take a more pragmatic approach.


See it not as imposter syndrome but see it as a chance to better yourself or something new for you to learn. Here is an example. Two years ago, I started working for a non-profit that contained a school within it. I have been trained and licensed as a school teacher and a school administrator. The budgets that I have worked with follow a funding formula based around government funding for education. Where I work now, funding for students comes through state funds, but also we have a mental health component that is a bit different. Rather than freak out in budget meetings, I have taken the time to learn the accounting codes that correspond to mental health. Rather than call me a fraud or doubt my skills, I just took the time to learn something new.

 In my creative life, this is how it works. I enjoy taking photos. I am not a professional photographer, yet I can learn skills that professionals use. I purchased Adobe Creative Cloud, learned about the rule of thirds, and some basic editing techniques that I apply to the photos that I take for my blog. For example, check out the picture below. I took it today. I was on my walk and I found an abandoned mirror on the sidewalk. I made sure that I didn’t crop out the grass, I felt it was needed to emphasize the imperfection.


The same thing applies to my writing. Since June, I have been in a writing workshop working on a novel that I intend to publish. On October 31st, I am going to finish the novel and begin editing it. On November 1st, I am going to start my sixth Nanowrimo. I have another new story to write about. I am going to do it because it is fun.


Seth Godin said in our workshop, “The world doesn’t need another book, but the world needs your book. He called publishing a book a generous act. I can extend that being creative and sharing your work with others is a generous act. 


Rather than calling myself a fraud or doubting my skills I am choosing to practice my skills, show my work, get feedback, seek to improve my skills, rinse, repeat.


The latest episode of the Steven Thompson Experience came out today- Law and Order. Would love it if you listened.


One thought on “A Pragmatic Approach to Imposter Syndrome.

  1. Such a great reframe of imposter syndrome, Steven.

    “Rather than calling myself a fraud or doubting my skills I am choosing to practice my skills, show my work, get feedback, seek to improve my skills, rinse, repeat.”

    This is the practice that quietens any voice of doubt.

    I love that you are finishing your book just in time for a new nanowrimo and a new story. Well done.

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