Imposter Syndrome with Eyal Pavell

Eyal Pavell
28th October 2019

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Imposter Syndrome with Eyal Pavell

The latest episode in Meyler Campbell's podcast series, "Imposter Syndrome" with Eyal Pavell. 


Imposter Syndrome with Eyal Pavell

This episode features an in-depth discussion with Eyal Pavell.

Eyal achieved a PhD in Clinical Psychology and practiced in inner city New York Psychiatric hospitals and clinics. He is an expert in leadership development and assessment, and has worked with leaders at many of the world’s largest and most admired companies.

An Executive Coach with 20 years’ experience, Eyal is a highly respected tutor and member of the Meyler Campbell faculty.


Explaining the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’

02:00 Eyal defines Imposter Syndrome in a nutshell and explains that about 70% of people experience signs and symptoms of Imposter Phenomena in their lives.

03:30 Imposter Syndrome is not classed as a mental disorder. Eyal provides us a more detailed explanation of the Syndrome.

05:00 Eyal explains how to identify whether you are experiencing Imposter Syndrome or a temporary moment of anxiety. It affects people who appear highly successful and is, ironically, often associated with success or achievement.


Imposter Syndrome and Identity

7:45 Imposter Syndrome often occurs as we reflect on how we do things and what that means about our identity. We generally evaluate our own actions and tend to bring in a lot of judgment about them.

9:25 Eyal describes how Imposter Syndrome can occur before an event or moment of achievement; while it’s occurring; or after it, as we reflect on it.

11:16 As it’s often linked with some kind of achievement, Imposter Syndrome often occurs in conjunction with positive events, such as a promotion; starting university or a personal relationship.

14:00 Being a minority can also be a trigger for Imposter Syndrome where a sense of belonging, or being accepted into a new group of people, is associated with expectations of being able to perform in certain ways.


The Imposter Cycle

14:35 One of the ways to consider how the Imposter works is to consider the Imposter Cycle, as Eyal describes. Throwing lots of objective facts at the inner voice, such as achieving certification or completing lots of preparation for a task, will not silence it if that achievement hasn’t been fully integrated into someone’s sense of personal identity. That’s what enables the Imposter to persist despite intellectual achievement, for example.


The effect of the Imposter on performance

18:00 Imposter Syndrome can cause stress and anxiety which might adversely affect performance. Paradoxically, it also prompts us to try harder to do our best to not be ‘found out’ which can elevate performance and promote personal growth.

19:40 Eyal describes how we often perform at our best when we’re at the edge of our competence and we’re able to learn and grow. He suggests that Imposter Syndrome can be considered as the opposite of Narcissism and helps to build a sense of humility.


Dialling down your Imposter Syndrome

Eyal suggests six practical steps we can take to reduce the negative effects of our inner Imposter:

 1. Naming it

21:22 In order to keep the positives of Imposter Syndrome while removing the anxiety it creates, Eyal describes how we can focus on the story we tell ourselves in our own heads, and decide to dial it up or dial it down.

21:44 “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting what you want.”


2. Engaging with it

22:16 Naming and understanding your inner Imposter enables you to engage with it and control its effects. More objective input, such as feedback, can help shrink the Imposter.


3. Intrinsic motivation

26:14 Another tactic to manage the Imposter is to think about your purpose rather than your achievement. The intrinsic motivation that’s linked to your values will give more meaning to what you’re doing beyond just being judged as successful or not.

29:00 Seeing experiences as learning opportunities, rather than as pass/fail moments, helps us to move into a learning mindset, where we focus on how to improve or to make a bigger impact.


4. Paying attention to language

32:00 One of the risks of Imposter Syndrome is that it shapes the way we express ourselves outwardly. Non-committal or tentative responses may put us in a negative cycle where we lower expectations of ourselves and others lower their expectations of us too. Pay attention to any tentative words you use and get into the habit of dropping them, so you show you are prepared to stand behind your words.


5. Reframing it

34:44 Reframing helps too; at moments where you experience nervous energy, renaming it as something positive, such as excitement, can enhance performance.


6. Mentoring others

36:30 Teaching others can help displace the Imposter as it puts us in the position of ‘giving what we have to give’ and reminds us of what we’ve achieved.


Identifying Imposter Syndrome in others

40:40 Eyal describes how we can ‘keep an ear out’ for things during discussions with our clients or coachees, which might indicate Imposter Syndrome. This may include moments of success or achievement and expressions of self-doubt that become generalised.

45:00 Coaching can be a highly successful way of helping a coachee to address their Imposter Syndrome, including providing them with the tools to identify when it might occur in the future and how they can reduce its effects.


Further resources

Imposter Syndrome self-test:


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