Tuesday, April 11, 2023

imposters in the RSA

I was recently asked to give a talk about some of the ideas in my book about imposter syndrome by the RSA North, as part of their ongoing Coffeehouse programme which seeks to spread thinking and insights to help create more/better change throughout our communities.

Having been approached to become a Fellow in 2007 by direct invitation from the Society (to my knowledge, the only such instance - everyone else I meet who's connected to the RSA became a Fellow through either direct personal application, or being nominated by an existing Fellow!), I've always been encouraged by the profile and ideas of other people that they've helped to share, so to now be part of that recognised body of changemakers who they offer a platform to, is an exciting validation of my own!

But unlike previous invitations I've received to date from sector bodies to lead conversations based on the ideas in the book, this time the format was much more about my conveying a summation of my research and arguments, followed by a short Q&A.

Rather than re-hash what I shared in my presentation (that's all available through either reading the book, or dipping in and out of the 2-min videos on my YouTube channel's playlist), I wanted to try and capture some of what people shared in response to what I brought, and the initial conversations that started to flow from it:

  • Many people in the session felt that they don't have easy access to opportunities to talk about any feelings of self-doubt in constructive ways. As a result, people can live with feelings of imposterism for prolonged periods of time, unsure of how to resolve them, and this can create ongoing damage and distress for them.  
  • Imposter Syndrome can sometimes be 'weaponised' by others against us: if we start to exhibit skill and potential that a colleague feels threatened by, it can be easier for them to seek to undermine our confidence to maintain their position, rather than 'rise to the challenge' and 'level up their own game'.
  • If a person feels that they've never experienced feelings of self-doubt/imposterism, then this may be a sign that they could have psychopathic traits. However, this does not automatically mean that such people are automatically dangerous or destructive...
  • A lack of role models for a person in new or emerging roles (which can be a frequent 'root cause' of feelings of imposterism developing within someone), can sometimes be mitigated through a carefully designed mentoring or coaching relationship.

But as always with opportunities like this to reflect on the books ideas with others - to gain feedback, critique, and seek to further build on them, the time goes all too quickly. And the above capture offers tantalising hints at future conversations we might like to explore more fully and deeply - so, if you were in that lunchtime talk, and want to carry on the discussion, or you'd like to reflect on some of your own experiences and thinking about any of the above, I'd be very happy to find a time to chat over a cuppa (virtual or otherwise!).

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