Me: Tell me about an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant of your career so far.
Woman: [Long pause] Umm, I’m not sure any of my accomplishments have been that significant.
Me: What about that website you built for the financial services client who said your work blew them away?
Woman: Oh, that was okay – it wasn’t really that big a deal.
Me: You seem to consistently downplay your achievements.
Woman: Yeah, I think I suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
Sound farfetched? I had nearly the identical conversation with over a dozen people who signed up for one of my Career Domination classes. And these were all very smart, accomplished, driven business folks looking to advance their career.
Were they outliers?
Hardly. Research indicates that nearly 70% of the population has considered themselves to be similarly “affected”. While initial studies focused on high-performing women, the data transcends gender.
People like Denzel Washington, Tina Fey, Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO), and Meryl Streep all confess to having suffered from imposter syndrome. Even one of the greatest authors and poets of our time, Maya Angelou, stated that each time she publishes a new book she thinks, “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now.”
With so many honors, degrees, and accomplishments under her belt, Dr. Margaret Chen currently heads the World Health Organization. Yet she stated, “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe this about me? I’m so much more aware of all the things I don’t know.”
And so it is that we easily fall prey to this sense of deceit.
We have two “voices” in our head – one that gently, confidently speaks to our virtues and capabilities assuring us that we belong and that everything is OK. The other voice loudly shrieks in disdain at our faults and mistakes, eager to convince us that we are frauds and not good enough.
It is this second voice we listen to when we choose to be our own worst enemy.
But that need not be.
A Course in Miracles refers to these two voices as the Holy Spirit and the ego, respectively.
The two voices speak for different interpretations of the same thing simultaneously; or almost simultaneously, for the ego always speaks first. (T-5.VI.3)
The still, small Voice for God is not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear it. Perception is a choice and not a fact. (T-21.V.1)
In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. (C-1.7)
As we learn to choose the “still, small Voice for God” we experience a welcoming peace that not only assures us that we belong, but so does everyone else along with us. The “imposter syndrome” is transformed into total inclusiveness.
Join us in Monday’s class where we will explore these concepts and dig into the Course’s guidance on choosing the voice of spirit. I look forward to seeing you then.