Imposter syndrome—the belief that you’re not as competent as others perceive you to be—is surprisingly common. According to a new survey by Moneypenny, 1 in 3 Americans suffer from imposter syndrome, with those between 18-24 experiencing it the most (46%). The study also revealed that women (35%) tend to suffer more than men (30%) from a sense of self-doubt in the workplace.
If you think only ordinary people have these feelings of inadequacy, you’re wrong. Celebrities and Olympic athletes do too. For example, American gymnast Suni Lee emerged as a star on the world stage when she won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. But in an interview with ESPN, she shared that she has experienced imposter syndrome since her return. Even triple-threat superstar Jennifer Lopez admitted to experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome in a recent Rolling Stone interview.
While much is written about the negative side of imposter syndrome, it actually isn’t all that bad. Here’s why it pays to acknowledge its many benefits and ultimately embrace it.
Imposter syndrome improves interpersonal effectiveness
Basima A. Tewfik, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan, ran field studies and experiments examining workers who have imposter syndrome. She discovered that these people became more other-focused and, as a result, were rated as more interpersonally effective. As a result, her research shows that experiencing this phenomenon can make you more adept at relationships, which is a key ingredient in professional success.
Imposter syndrome makes you try harder
When we have imposter syndrome, we tend to compensate for any perceived shortcomings. That means you are more likely to work harder to prove your worth. Imposter syndrome can also motivate us to work smarter to fill gaps in our skill set and knowledge base. Focusing on the perceived competence gap between you and your colleagues and putting effort into closing it may just give you the advantage you’re looking for. It may even be a sign that you are learning more and getting better at your craft which is something to celebrate.
Imposter syndrome encourages problem-solving
Imposter thoughts tend to encourage problem-solving. That’s because when you doubt and question yourself, you tend to be more curious and open to new information. Self-doubt also helps slow down the decision-making process, enabling you to find better solutions.
Imposter syndrome indicates you’re challenging yourself
If you’re interested in personal growth and development, you will constantly push yourself into new and unexplored territories. When things are new, we don’t feel as comfortable as we are doing something we’ve been doing for the last 15 or 20 years. You aren’t growing as a human being if you aren’t pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
Imposter syndrome keeps your ego in check
Feeling like an imposter can be a good thing because it won’t allow your ego to become overinflated. When your ego takes over, you tend to become complacent and avoid potential unknowns. This way, you won’t take opportunities for granted and will be open to learning new things so you can continue to sharpen your skills and experience.
Whether embracing a new challenge or starting a new job, imposter syndrome is likely to appear. Just remember to recognize its hidden upsides. Instead of looking at it as a detriment, transform it into your most powerful secret weapon.