Caroline Flanagan was the only Black pupil in an all-White boarding school and regularly felt she didn’t belong. She feared that at any moment someone would tap her on the shoulder and expose her as a fraud.
Tom Norman often fears people will see him as a fraud and will lose his job.
Catherine Warrilow felt she couldn’t contribute to conversations with her peers as a teenager because she believed she had nothing useful to add.
Niels Brochner often catches himself wondering if his success has just been down to luck.
This is imposter syndrome. Characterised by negative thought patterns such as self-doubt, people feel like they don’t belong or will be exposed as a fraud. Around 70% of people have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. And, as CMI’s The Everyone Economy report highlights, it can be exacerbated if someone identifies as an under-represented or disadvantaged group at work.
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How does self-doubt manifest?
Interestingly, imposter syndrome typically affects people who are already successful or have a series of achievements under their belt. Caroline Flanagan is a former lawyer and now works as a professional coach for lawyers with imposter syndrome. Tom Norman is a community manager at start-up CraftDocs. Catherine Warrilow is MD of daysout.com. Niels Brochner is founder and CEO of Contractbook.
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