A common way to discount our achievements is to move the bar higher or change the goalposts. At the start of a project, we tell ourselves that if we could just do a good job we’d be happy. But when we do a good job we say, “But I could have done so much better”.
Before the exam we say, “If I just pass I’ll really happy”.
But when we do pass we aren’t happy. Instead we say, “If I was any good I’d have got a credit, or a distinction.”
Some examples are:
- I gave a good talk but spent way too long preparing. I won’t be able to go on like this.
- I did make the sale but it was only to a small customer. I wouldn’t be able to pull it off with our major customers.
- I did OK in the interview but I was anxious when I was answering questions.
“I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that had me as a member.”
Groucho Marx, (1890-1977), US comedian
Extract from The Imposter Syndrome.