Sheryl Sandberg was a fraud.
She was chief operating officer at Facebook. Forbes had named her the 5th most powerful woman in the world—even above former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Yet she was plagued by the feeling that it had all been a big mistake.
She knew she wasn’t any more special than anyone else. She’d been lucky. She’d gotten a lot of help along the way.
Sandberg shares this story in her 2013 bestseller Lean In to show women that it’s not uncommon to feel like you don’t deserve success.
That feeling even has a name:
Can you relate? Consider these questions.
Do you find it difficult to accept a compliment?
Do you feel as if other people think highly of you because they don’t really know you?
Have you turned down opportunities because you don’t feel qualified enough?
Do you worry that you’re going to make a huge mistake one day, and everyone will see that you don’t really know what you’re doing?
If you earn a promotion or win an award, do you react by wondering if it has all been a mistake and they didn’t really mean to pick you?
Do you downplay everything you’ve accomplished?
Imposter syndrome can get confused with humility, the virtue of being realistic about your own self-importance. No one wants to come across as arrogant or big-headed. It’s easier to relate to people when you make it clear that you don’t think you’re any better than they are.
But being realistic about your own self-importance doesn’t mean putting yourself down. You may not be better than everyone else, but you’re still special—because we’re all special. You don’t have to make yourself small to stay humble.
Sandberg believes that women are particularly susceptible to imposter syndrome. For example, have you ever noticed that even beautiful, accomplished women wonder what a man would see in them … while even unattractive, unappealing men assume that a supermodel might be interested in them?
Understanding where you consistently underestimate yourself can help your love life enormously.
To illustrate how, let’s look at two women. Pay attention to which one resonates with you the most.Continue reading