In this #mtpcon SF+Americas 2022 breakout session, Phyllis Njoroge, Product Manager at Redfin, talks about her journey through imposter syndrome. Phyllis is also the author of a book, From fraud to freedom, that looks at the factors that cause self doubt.
Watch this video or read on for key highlights from the talk.
Phyllis is careful to say that you grow through imposter syndrome rather than overcome it – because it’s not something you ever shake off.
What is imposter syndrome?
Phyllis says that imposter syndrome is used as an umbrella term for any form of self doubt. It can mean you think you’ve just got lucky, that you’re not smart enough, you fear judgement or that you’ll be exposed as a fraud. Imposter syndrome is self doubt that inflates into an identity crisis, she says.
Phyllis then runs through what imposter might look like if it didn’t conflate with identity. She adds that when she started in product management she felt like she needed to know it all, but she learned to leverage the expertise of those around her and to collaborate rather than assume she had to know what she was doing.
What can we do for ourselves?
- Ask questions early and often. Sometimes fear is a reasonable signal, but if you feel able to then ask questions early and often. If you’re met with support then ask even more questions, if you’re not supported then work out who else you can go to for help.
- Practise a growth mindset. Act before you feel ready and start small. Attempt all parts of a project before thinking you can’t do it and be willing to figure it out along the way. Resist the urge to compare your performance to others. What best looks like isn’t the same every day.
- Celebrate your achievements. When you receive praise, express gratitude for the opportunity rather than scepticism of the other person’s judgement. Take pride in your accomplishments and set up a reflection journal to record them so that you feel more productive.
What can we do to help others?
Imposter syndrome is a community problem. Most importantly we need to create an environment for growth. Phyllis suggests a few ways of doing this
- Praise others for their efforts over the outcomes they achieve
- Model open discussions of failure.
- Encourage people to do something they’re nervous of in a low-pressure way.
- Be proactively helpful
There’s more where that came from!
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