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Have You Ever Felt Like an Imposter?

The more you become an expert, the more you may feel like an imposter...

Rishabh Jain
Head of Product & Head of Chemistry
Life Beyond the HSC

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Have You Ever Felt Like an Imposter?

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Rishabh Jain
Head of Product & Head of Chemistry

I want to explore tips to tackle something called Imposter Syndrome! (Inspired by Ben Meer)

Imposter Syndrome is basically the feeling of being a fraud, that you've made big accomplishments but that you don't deserve them. For example, getting high marks πŸ’― but feeling bad about it because you see others working harder. I've realised I'm certainly starting to feel this way too!

It happens because of an in-built cognitive bias in our heads: the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

  • When you're first learning something, you gain overconfidence because of quick progression on the learning curve.
  • But as you start to become an expert, you lose confidence because you realise there is so much you don't know.
  • The more you become an expert, the more you may feel like an imposter.

Here are 5 tips for beating Imposter Syndrome.

Tip 1: Learn the facts

Around 8/10 people go through Imposter Syndrome. You're not alone, so let's tackle it together!

Imposter Syndrome is not a personal shortcoming. It's not you! It's a societal norm.

We all often feel like we don't deserve our wins. Even those around us with immense success were at a stage when they had no idea what they were doing. It's part of the process, and it's what will help you learn along the way to go from here to success.


Tip 2: Discuss it with others

Studies find that people who experience Imposter Syndrome feel alone. But after reading Tip 1, you know that 8/10 people in a room feel or have felt similarly!

If you're feeling like an Imposter (insert Among Us joke), reach out to someone you trust and talk to them about it. Chances are they know what you're going through :)


Tip 3: Write down your wins

Throughout evolution, the human brain has been wired to make us more focused on negative stimuli than positive stimuli, to help us survive!

The ancestor that survived was the one who focused on the bear running towards it, not the one admiring the butterfly floating around them. As a result, we tend to overlook our progress, our wins, and instead focus on what we think we aren't doing well. We find small things we fail at and use them as evidence that we don't deserve our wins. This is not true!

Every famous athlete and business person has their failures. The key is to write down your wins - getting improved grades, making progress, receiving positive comments or compliments etc. Then regularly review your wins.

See how far you've dome, and how much you are capable of!


Tip 4: Let go of perfectionism

I love this quote from Ben Meer:

If you're avoiding failure, you're avoiding success.

The #1 factor that influences success is the volume of work you do.

In a famous 'experiment', a college arts professor offered students two choices:

  • You can be graded on one final piece that you produce, and have the entire semester to work on it
  • Or, you can be graded on the volume of pieces you submit throughout the semester

The surprising result? It was actually the second group, the volume group, that produced better quality work!

This is crazy to think about, since you'd imagine it's the first group of people that produced better work. But the secret here is the 70-20-10 rule:

  • 70% of your work will suck
  • 20% will be average
  • 10% will be awesome

If we try to write that one perfect English piece, or do one Maths past paper and expect it to be amazing, or have one draft for our History essay, it will never be amazing! You need to be okay with the process of creating crappy work, sending it off for others to review and accepting the feedback humbly so you can improve upon them. If you're not looking back at yourself and cringing, you're not growing!

As Saf (Founder of Project) taught me, the three people who invented the magical chemical WD-40 took FORTY attempts to get it right! That's crazy!


Tip 5: Adopt the Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is critical to beating Imposter Syndrome. It's the belief that you can improve your abilities through dedication + hard work.

Everything around you right now was built by people no smarter than you - and that's coming from bloody Steve Jobs!

The creators, ideators, ground breakers, earth shakers and dreamers all went from idea to execution, and learnt along the way.

And so can you πŸš€


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