Impostor Syndrome

I had the pleasure of attending the iKC2013 “unconference” yesterday and one of the topics of discussion was the impostor syndrome.  This breakout session seemed to generate a lot if not the most attention.

For those unable to attend this fascinating discussion I will try to summarize it.  I have attached perhaps the most succinct description of the syndrome as captured by this pithy drawing by Jessica Hagy.  card3259If you have never seen her work it is hilarious, thought-provoking and true!

There was a great deal of discussion about tools and techniques people use to fight off the tendency to tell ourselves we are not worth it, we have no right to be doing whatever it is we are doing, etc…


  1. Keeping up with the Jones’.
  2. Fear of failure that is wildly exaggerated.
  3. Keeping clear the distinction between who I am and what I do.
  4. Too much focus on what we think others think of us.
  5. Focus too much on how my results compare to others’.


  1. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” (see also Simon  Sinek)
  2. “Do it to be better; not to be better than that guy.”
  3. “Don’t let killing it (stories)kill you”.
  4.  “You can only lose what you have.  You can never lose what you are.” Eckhart Tolle
  5. “I am beneath no one, no one is better than me.”
  6. “Some may be better at doing but they are not better at being.”
  7. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
  8.  “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Books helpful on the topic:

  1. ‘The Passion Test’- Janet Attwood
  2. ‘Focus’ –Tory Higgins
  3. ‘The War of Art’ – Steven Pressfield
  4. ‘Let Your Life Speak’ – Parker Palmer
  5. ‘The Heart Aroused’ –David Whyte
  6. ‘I Thought it was Just Me’- Brené Brown
  7. ‘Dare Greatly’- Brené Brown

Other Resources:




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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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