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The secret thoughts of successful women : why capable people suffer from the impostor syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it [electronic resource] / Valerie Young.

Young, Valerie Ed.D (author.). Ericksen, Susan. (Added Author). hoopla digital. (Added Author). Read by Susan Ericksen. (Cast).


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Digital content provided by hoopla.
Participant or Performer Note: Read by Susan Ericksen.
Summary, etc.: It's only because they like me. I was in the right place at the right time. I just work harder than the others. I don't deserve this. It's just a matter of time before I am found out. Someone must have made a terrible mistake. If you are a working woman, chances are this inter­%x;nal monologue sounds all too familiar. And you're not alone. From the high-achieving PhD candidate convinced she's only been admitted to the program because of a clerical error to the senior executive who worries others will find out she's in way over her head, a shocking number of accomplished women in all ca­%x;reer paths and at every level feel as though they are faking it-impostors in their own lives and careers. In The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, Valerie Young explains what the impostor syndrome is, why fraud fears are more common in women, and how you can recognize the way it mani­%x;fests in your life. With her empowering, step-by-step plan, you will learn to take ownership of your success, overcome self-doubt, and banish the thought patterns that undermine your ability to feel-and act-as bright and capable as others already know you are.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Subject: Self-perception in women
Women employees United States Psychological aspects
Women Psychology
Women Employment Psychological aspects

Syndetic Solutions - Excerpt for ISBN Number 9781541420502
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women : Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women : Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
by Young, Valerie; Ericksen, Susan (Narrated by)
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The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women : Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It

[1] Feel Like an Impostor? Join the Club The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. --Bertrand Russell You don't have to look far to find intelligent, competent, talented women who feel anything but. Reflecting on her early days as a rising star at Revlon and later Avon, Joyce Roché, the former president and CEO of Girls Inc., remembers thinking, "Somewhere, deep inside, you don't believe what they say. You think it's a matter of time before you stumble and 'they' discover the truth. You're not supposed to be here. We knew you couldn't do it. We should have never taken a chance on you." 1 When entrepreneur Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of WorldWIT, a women's online discussion community, won the Stevie, the business equivalent of an Oscar, she didn't feel like a winner. As she took the stage in New York to receive her award from Bill Rancic of The Apprentice, all Ryan could think was, Who the hell am I? I'm just a mom with an overflowing laundry room and a two-year-old with applesauce in his hair. 2 Countless other women feel the same way. After graduating near the top of her class, a bright engineering major named LaTonya* was accepted into a highly competitive doctoral program. Instead of feeling proud, she was worried, telling me, "I was certain they'd made a mistake. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop." Dawn, desperate to get off the fast track, invested thousands of dollars and considerable amounts of time training to become an executive coach. Two years and a hundred coaching hours later, she had yet to hang out her shingle, explaining, "I can't shake the feeling that I faked my way through the program." What you've just seen is the impostor syndrome in action. What about you? Take the Quiz * Do you chalk your success up to luck, timing, or computer error? * Do you believe "If I can do it, anybody can"? * Do you agonize over the smallest flaws in your work? * Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, seeing it as evidence of your ineptness? * When you do succeed, do you secretly feel like you fooled them again? * Do you worry that it's a matter of time before you're "found out"? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you of all people know it doesn't really matter how much acclaim you've received, how many degrees you've earned, or how high you've risen. True, there are a lot of people who regard you as intelligent or talented, perhaps even brilliant. But you're not one of them. In fact, you have profound doubts about your abilities. No matter what you've accomplished or what people think, deep down you're convinced that you are an impostor, a fake, and a fraud. Welcome to the Club Despite the fact that we've never met, I suspect I already know a lot about you. For starters, you probably seem remarkably able and accomplished to the outside world. But secretly you believe you are merely passing for competent. When you do manage to nail the presentation, ace the exam, or get the job--which you almost always do--you see yourself as lucky or industrious, never intrinsically good at what you do. People who know or work with you have no idea that you lie awake at night wondering when they will finally discover what an incompetent sham you really are. I also happen to know that you are intelligent, even though you don't always feel that way. Part of you knows this too. It's just that it's tough for you to maintain a consistent image of yourself as smart. And while we're on the subject, I don't necessarily mean you're book-smart. Although there's a pretty good chance you have at least one degree--perhaps even two or three. You're also an achiever who by most standards is considered successful--although here too you may struggle to see yourself that way. I'm not talking just about achieving wealth, fame, or status (although you very well may have). You don't have to have graduated first in your class or made it to the top of any ladder. But you do have to have achieved something to feel fraudulent about. Usually it's something you didn't expect of yourself, or have not yet mastered, at least not to your ridiculously high standards. Am I close? I thought so. The Impostor Club has untold millions of members around the world. It's made up of women and men of all races, religions, and socioeconomic classes. They come from a wide range of educational backgrounds from high school dropouts to multiple Ph.D.'s, from such diverse fields as law enforcement, music, and medicine, and from entry level to CEO. Finally, a Name for the Feelings You may not even have known that these vague yet overwhelming feelings of self-doubt and angst actually have a name. I didn't either, not until my first year in graduate school when I was introduced to a 1978 paper titled "The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women" by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. At the time both psychologists were at Georgia State University, where they observed that many of their students who excelled academically admitted during counseling that they felt their success was undeserved. At its heart, the impostor syndrome, as it's more commonly known, refers to people who have a persistent belief in their lack of intelligence, skills, or competence. They are convinced that other people's praise and recognition of their accomplishments is undeserved, chalking up their achievements to chance, charm, connections, and other external factors. Unable to internalize or feel deserving of their success, they continually doubt their ability to repeat past successes. When they do succeed they feel relief rather than joy. You may find that these feelings fade over time as you get more knowledge and experience under your belt. Or like many, you may experience impostor feelings consistently over the entire course of your career. For some people, the feelings of faking it extend into other roles, such as parenting and relationships. For instance, mothers who work outside of the home who try to pass off store-bought pies as homemade so as not to feel judged by the stay-at-home moms at the school fund-raiser. Or feigning interest on a date when you feel anything but. The fraudulent feelings we're talking about here have to do with insecurities related to your knowledge or skills and as such occur primarily in academic and professional arenas. Not surprisingly, impostor feelings crop up most during times of transition or when faced with a new challenge, such as tackling an unfamiliar or high-profile assignment. No one knows for sure how long the impostor syndrome has been in existence. For all we know, the first cave artist brushed off admiring grunts with "Oh, this old painting? Any Neanderthal could have done it." What is known is that the phenomenon is remarkably common. How common? In a study of successful people conducted by psychologist Gail Matthews, a whopping 70 percent reported experiencing impostor feelings at some point in their life. 3 For the record, the impostor syndrome has nothing to do with you literally pretending to be someone you're not. Nor do you behave like real frauds, who actually do cheat their way to the top. In fact, people who identify with the impostor syndrome have proven to be less likely than non-impostors to engage in academic dishonesty such as plagiarism or cheating. 4 It's also easy to misconstrue the impostor syndrome as just a fancy name for low self-esteem. It's not. Some studies have been able to link the two. But the fact that others have failed to find a strong connection tells us it's possible to feel insecure without feeling like a fraud. That's not to say you don't sometimes struggle with self-esteem (who doesn't?). However, that you identify with this syndrome at all suggests that your self-esteem is at least solid enough for you to set and achieve your goals. And achieve you have. "Sure I'm Successful--but I Can Explain All That" There's plenty of evidence to prove your success--good grades, promotions, raises, status, recognition, perhaps even awards and other accolades. But in your mind none of that matters. Like all impostors you are a master at coming up with ways to explain away your successes. See if you recognize yourself in any of these statements. I got lucky. A perennial favorite is to chalk accomplishments up to chance. You think, "I may have lucked out this time, but next time I may not be so fortunate." I was just in the right place at the right time or The stars were right. A candidate selected for a plum executive post believes it's because the selection committee drank a bit too much wine at dinner and the alcohol clouded their judgment. It's because they like me. Being likable offers another handy hat on which to hang your success. You could be class valedictorian and still tell yourself, "It's only because the teachers liked me." If I can do it, anyone can. You're convinced that your success has to do with the supposed simplicity of the task. A postdoctoral student in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology told me, "I figure if I can get a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Cal Tech, anyone can." (I had to break it to her that most people, me included, can't even balance their checkbooks.) They must let anybody in. You secretly believe that your success is a result of others' low standards. When a college administrator got word that she'd been accepted to a graduate program at Smith College, she told me she had second thoughts about attending. "I thought, what kind of standards do they have there?" It's the impostor version of the Groucho Marx joke: "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." Someone must have made a terrible mistake. Maria Rodriguez and Linda Brown went to different colleges in different decades. Despite having never met, they said exactly the same thing: "I have a pretty common name. Deep down, I think that the admissions office mixed up my application with someone else who had the same name and they let the wrong person in." I had a lot of help. There is certainly nothing wrong with sharing credit. But to you, any form of support, collaboration, or cooperation automatically cancels out your own contribution. I had connections. Instead of seeing connections as giving you a leg up, you're convinced that knowing someone is the only reason you got into school, landed the job, or got the contract. They're just being nice. The belief that people who speak highly of your work are just being polite is so thoroughly ingrained that whenever I get to this place in my presentation, I need only utter the first few words: They're just being--and the entire female audience finishes the sentence with nice. They felt sorry for me. Impostors who return to college in midlife have been known to wonder out loud if perhaps the professors aren't just taking pity on them. Knowing they're trying to juggle kids, a job, and school, they suspect that their professors are intentionally going easy on them. Excuses, Excuses * A postdoctoral student with an impressive curriculum vitae insists, "I just look good on paper." * A graduate student who gets into a research program that is so competitive only one new student is admitted per year decides she was chosen because the school was looking for diversity . . . and she was from the Midwest. * A student majoring in microbiology engineering quickly sets the record straight to those who are impressed by her field of study by explaining that it just "sounds impressive because it has a long name." Fooled 'Em Again On one hand, you have to admit that it takes an exceptional mind to think up so many creative excuses for success. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back right now. But don't congratulate yourself too long because you also have a problem, don't you? After all, if you are unable to claim your accomplishments on a gut, visceral level, then when you are confronted with actual evidence of your abilities, it's unclear to you how you got there. Even though your achievements clearly emanate from you, you feel oddly disconnected from them. And without this connection between yourself and your accomplishments, the only possible explanation you're left with is that you've fooled them. Rationally you would think success would alleviate feelings of fraudulence. The more successful you are, the more evident it is that you really do know what you're doing. But for you just the opposite happens. Instead of reducing the pressure, success only makes it worse because now you have a reputation to defend. Instead of being cause for celebration, things like praise, financial rewards, and status can feel oppressive. You think, Now they'll expect me to be that good every time--and I have no idea how I pulled it off the first time. Rather than spurring you on, success may lead you to drop out altogether. This is especially true if you are perceived to be an "overnight" success. A rapid ascent to the top of the hill suddenly lands you in unfamiliar territory. You wonder, How did this happen? Did I pay enough dues? Do I deserve to be here? Whether success came early or late in your career, the prevailing sense among impostors is, They'll expect me to be competent down the road, and I'm not at all sure I will be. That's because in your mind, one success is unrelated to the next. Rather than being cumulative, each accomplishment is its own sum game. This makes success a very tenuous thing. You think, Sure, I've done well up until now . . . But Wait Until Next Time You know your good fortune can't last forever. So instead of basking in your achievement, you live in fear that your ineptness will finally be discovered and that you will be humiliated--or worse. Because you're convinced that each new endeavor will be your undoing, your run-up to each test, presentation, or challenge brings tremendous anxiety and self-doubt. You think, One false move and I'm out. This apprehension is typically followed by success, and finally by skeptical relief. It is a pattern that endlessly repeats itself. 1. Ellyn Spragins, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self (New York: Crown Archetype, 2006), 143. 2. Leslie Goldman, "You're a Big Success (So Why Do You Feel So Small?)" Chicago Tribune, March 30, 2005. 3. Gail M. Matthews, "Impostor Phenomenon: Attributions for Success and Failure," paper presented at the American Psychological Association, Toronto, 1984. 4. Joseph R. Ferrari, "Impostor Tendencies and Academic Dishonesty: Do They Cheat Their Way to Success?" Social Behavior and Personality 33, no. 1 (2005): 11-18. Excerpted from The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It by Valerie Young All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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