The Impostor Syndrome – What if You Really Don’t Know Anything?

Posted by: on Jan 8, 2014 | No Comments


We recently wrote about the Impostor Syndrome – how prevalent it is (Nobel Prize winner Peter Higgs falls prey to it) and how to combat it.   I  wrote about the fact that I reproached myself at times for not having an MBA – but then “gave that good argument” by refuting that concern.

But it is also worth considering whether your fears do conceal a genuine learning or development need.  Peter Higgs is retired now so it probably doesn’t matter that his quantum physics isn’t exactly up to snuff but it WOULD matter if he wanted to continue working in the field.

Similarly I really don’t “need” an MBA to work with clients but perhaps I could be even better informed about areas of business:  especially finance, value creation and some statistical analysis.

My thinking in this area has been influenced by a book I got for Christmas – “The Art of Non-Conformity” by Chris Guillebeau.  Chris advocates designing a life that suits you (rather than one that is lived to meet the expectations of others).  In many ways it follows the standard self-help template:  set some goals, design your ideal day, work towards doing more things you love and fewer things you hate etc.  His has a fair dollop of contribution to society and travel to mix it up a little.

One section intrigued me:  Chris speculated whether you really needed to go to College (ie University in English English), particularly at post graduate level.  His argument was that for a fraction of the amount of money a post-graduate course would cost, you could educate yourself.

His self-directed “life education” included reading the major religious texts (Koran, Torah, Bible); subscribing to the Economist for a year and religiously (!) reading it from cover to cover; read 10 classics; learning a language on tape and practising it at a weekly conversation class, and so on.

So inspired by the spirit of The Art of Non Conformity, I have decided to pursue a year of self-guided MBA style study in 2014.

My guide will be the Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman I will delve into that, some recommended reading and as he suggests, read a section and think about it, applying it to Creative Shift as I go.

So keep an eye out for occasional “Personal MBA – Class of 2014” posts over the coming year.  And if you want to join my virtual MBA class room, feel free – post your comments and observations on the blog or on Twitter @mycreativeshift.

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