How Imposter Syndrome is Good for You

Beth E Lee MBA MSc
6 min readJul 17, 2021

There were over 30 students in the zoom room as I introduced myself to the hour long session. I had given lectures and taught psychology classes before, so there should be no reason why my Imposter Syndrome feeling was so strong.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

My tech had failed me so I had no notes going into this session but I continued, working really hard to remember my notes, going through the slides and “faking” it while the undercurrent feeling of failure stuck with me. If you asked me if my Imposter Syndrome was working for me — I most certainly would’ve said absolutely not.

As I went from slide to slide, I grew in confidence. Until I switched back to the students. Looking for their input, to see their reactions to what I was presenting, and again, my imposter syndrome and lack of confidence came rushing back. I ploughed on and finished the session with a short Q&A in which only one question was asked. Ugh… my mind raced with statements such as “they don’t care at all about what I said”, “I’m not a good trainer — maybe I was too fast, slow, or forthright”, “Well, I guess I should just get out and revisit my presentation”.

A week later, the head teacher wrote to me to say what a success the presentation had been and forwarded me all the positive and very constructive feedback from the students. I was a success! Oh, thank God.

With this scenario, it’s hard to see how Imposter Syndrome can be good for us. But a new study focusing on miscalibration of performance shows the positive side of feeling underconfident, how our beliefs are misplaced when we’re underconfident and how imposter syndrome can be a huge motivator to push us in our performances.

What’s the Science?

The overview of the study published in Neuroscience News, looked specifically at “why some people overestimate their abilities while others underestimate” and highlighted that….

  1. The majority of people tend to predict that they WILL outperform others when the task is EASY
  2. But when it’s a difficult task, the majority of people tend to predict that OTHERS will do better.

What this comes down to is a miscalibration.

What is Calibration?

Beth E Lee MBA MSc

Psych skills and discussions to develop an intentional mind.