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Imposter syndrome was first coined in 1978 by psychologist Dr Pauline Clance, PhD, and refers to a pattern in which an individual doubts their skills and accomplishments and internalises a fear that they will one day be exposed as a “fraud”, since they do not deserve everything that they have achieved.

Initially identified in women and published in “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Woman”, it has since been accepted as a universal psychology that affects all sexes, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

How can I tell? 

If you connect with one of these five distinctive types, you might be more inclined to suffer from the syndrome instead of brushing off your feelings as occasional low confidence and self-doubt: 

The Perfectionist – will set impossibly high standards for themselves and generally focus on things they feel could have been done and said better

The Natural Genius – people with high IQ’s or certain gifted abilities often feel that they should be able to pick things up quickly and master it on their own – this isn’t always a reality

The Soloist – will feel that they should be able to complete tasks without assistance and end up feeling like they are constantly juggling deadlines

The Expert – despite their advanced education and performance, they will feel that they are never really good enough and will constantly compare themselves to others

The Super-Person – these types take on more than they can handle as they feel like they have something to prove to others, or feel like they are under pressure to representing their minority

In this together

But the label was never meant to be a diagnosis, but rather to encapsulate a shared term that we all experience. Once we realise that, we can actually use this as a tool to evaluate our own strengths and weaknesses and adopt a mindset that uses our joint work experiences to grow. 

Workshop17, a provider of technologically advanced flexible workspace solutions, soon to be opening up their 11th premier location in KwaZulu Natal Ballito, believe that the best way to deal with these feelings of inadequacy is to draw from your work environment the confidence you might not yet possess on a daily basis. 

Happy places

A workplace that encourages authentic interactions with other colleagues and like minded people, will allow you to network and see other people’s perspectives on tasks. This will alleviate your own critical self to a more objective frame of reference, and enable you to be more relaxed in your contributions to the tasks at hand.

A relaxed workspace with a comfortable environment can help take the pressure off. When you are able to move freely in the location, you can reset your feelings of inadequacy and take mental breaks by changing rooms, working outside or soaking up a different vibe in a cafe. 

Paul Keursten, Co-Founder and CEO of Workshop17, says: “We all now understand that a life-work-play balance is created by fitting your workload into your lifestyle and not the other way round. It’s been proven that this helps with performance and productivity. What we are now starting to see is that a professional culture that incorporates the feeling of beautiful spaces with employees is an opportunity to overcome mental obstacles too.”

While developing self-acceptance requires effort, Imposter Syndrome shouldn’t be considered as something that we need to fix within ourselves. Rather take small steps to draw inspiration from the environment around you and surround yourself with people who can appreciate your many skill sets along with your quirks. This will serve as a gentle reminder that you aren’t in this alone, and a little kindness goes a long way. 

By Andrea Desfarges on behalf of Workshop17. For images, quotes or other information: [email protected] / 0641956028. DM



Workshop17 offers you fully serviced office space, flexible coworking options and meeting rooms in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Ballito & Mauritius. Open 24/7. We currently have eleven locations, growing to 14 in 2024. Individuals, teams and corporates, are all welcome.  www.workshop17.co.za


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