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Fraudster Thinking Gets in the Way

29 February 2024

Do you think you are fooling people?  Do you think that others have an over-inflated opinion of what you are capable of? Do you think that eventually people are going to see that intellectually you are just not as good as they think?

These types of self-doubt are much more common than most of us think.

One reason that lies behind this feeling of being a fraud is that you have a first row seat onto your mistakes, onto your shitty first drafts, onto your near misses, onto the high bar you set yourself and the lower bar you reach.  Most other people though, only see the results and the outcomes, and not the messy imperfect process.

What this results in is a mis-match between the more perfect version of you that you think others see you as, and the less perfect version of you that you know yourself to be.

Another reason behind this feeling of being a fraud can be a mis-interpretation of the stereotypes you think others are thinking about you.  It is the worry that there are societal conceptions of people like you (women, young people, older people, people with your degree, your disability, your skin colour... [insert your own cultural group]) that you have to exceed or live up to.

The thing about these self-doubts is that achievements often do little to assuage them.  You can have mountains of runs on the board, but that nagging doubt is still there. What we end up doing is talking to ourselves in a way we would never speak to anyone else.

An insidious element of thinking you are a fraud is that it can become self-fulfilling, especially in competitive environments such as job selections and career moves.  The fraudster thinking in you takes up mental space and it makes you downplay your accomplishments, underestimate your skills, and limit the scope of opportunities you will consider.

One antidote to this is to keep an Achievement List.  This is a document, or a file, or a box that you review and add to on a weekly basis. What goes onto your Achievement List are big things you have accomplished as well as the little things, and all things in-between that are examples of a positive impact you have had.  Attach to your list notes of thanks you may have received, compliments people have given you, accolades you have received, positive performance reviews, awards, rewards, and mentions.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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