Are you really a fraud or is your impostor syndrome undermining you?

How you feel when you have it, how you know you’re not a fraud and how I beat mine in six steps.

Chantal Dempsey


I was 25 when I started as an intelligence analyst in law enforcement. I couldn’t believe how little old me ‘landed’ that job. Pure luck, I thought. I had only been at University and done small jobs for beer money and to fund my travelling. I didn’t even feel like an adult. And there I was, in the midst of the action -serious action- to stop organised crime. I felt so completely out of my depth.

In my mind, passing all the interviews, exams, psychometric tests, security clearances and weeks of training was a total fluke. I was in my bubble of self-conscious, waiting to be found out for the fraud I was.

What is the impostor syndrome?

The impostor syndrome is the persistent feeling that you are not worthy of your achievements or successes. Like all fears, it is hard to rationalise it by offering evidence of skills or talents to make you stop doubting yourself. If you second guess yourself all the time, attribute your success to luck, feel like a fraud and have a fear of being found out, welcome to the club! you almost certainly have it.

Where does it come from?

Research published in the International Journal of Behavioural Science estimates that 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point[1].

Dr Pauline Clamse and Dr Suzanne Imes, who first introduced the concept in 1978, explain that many individuals who feel like impostors were raised in family environments where achievement was very important[2], with social pressures only exacerbating the problem.

What is the difference with a real fraud?

One could argue that we are all impostors to some degree. Of course, most of us might exaggerate how great our ‘communications skills’ are, or how much ‘extended’ experience we have in an area. This is part of a selling strategy. No one in the right mind is going to a job interview without some degree of embellishment. But that’s all it is, embellishment. It takes something that is genuine and makes it look good. Fraud, however, rests on a lie. It is…



Chantal Dempsey

Chantal Dempsey is an award winning life coach. She helps men and women regain self-confidence and create a breakthrough to transform their lives.