Imposter syndrome and improvement
- 533 words
- 3 min
I've recently been watching a lot of Daniel Kapadia's (a.k.a. ddk) videos. For those that don't know, ddk is an ex-Quake professional, who's moved into esports casting with a primary focus on FPS games. In a (somewhat) recent video of his, he says the following:
...one limiting factor I had was - and I still suffer from this a great deal - and its part of the reason why, in some respects, I've achieved anything in some of the realms that I've worked in is impostor symdrome. It's been an issue for me.
It's the thing that really makes me work really hard sometimes, but it also is the thing that makes me discount myself from feeling like I'm worth anything or good at what I do in any remote sense. So that can be a really big issue for me, and it was an issue when I was a player...
This phrase reminded me of a rule from the "Digital Age" addition of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People"; Give Others a Fine Reputation to Live Up To. In many senses, I think that impostor syndrome is the other side of the coin for "giving others a fine reputation to live up to".
The definition of impostor syndrome is to doubt your accomplishments or talents and to fear being exposed as a fraud. If you are given a "fine reputation to live up to", especially if its not for something that you've actually done yet (as "How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age" suggests), then of course you'll have impostor syndrome. You're being expected to live up to some ideal which you haven't achieved yet, and whilst being treated as though you've already achieved that ideal may be nice, you are - in the literal sense - an impostor.
"How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age" suggests the following:
Coaches, mentors, leaders, and parents often find that people live up to our expectations of them, no matter how diminished those expectations are. If a man feels unimportant or disrespected, he will have little motivation for improving himself. So why not create a vision of him that embodies everything you know he is capable of achieving, as well as everything you don't know about his possibilities? You will rarely be disappointed...
To change somebody's behaviour, change the level of respect she receives by giving her a fine reputation to live up to. Act as though the trait you are trying to influence is already one of the person's outstanding characteristics.
If this isn't a call to the bettering influence of impostor syndrome, I don't know what is!
We must also keep in mind the other component of the quote I've taken from ddk. Impostor syndrome can cause people to "discount themselves from feeling like they're worth anything or good at what they do in any remote sense." - in other words, it can cause low self-esteem. So there's certainly some skill to the balancing act of trying to make people live up to the expectation of their better self without massively impacting self-esteem.