I’m certain that you have your challenges with one or more of these areas at points in your life and work. 

They all emanate from the survival part of our psychology. The primal part of our brain & the amygdala (the emotional centre) often overrides our more developed frontal cortex (responsible for problem solving & reasoning).

We are continually looking for risks, deficiencies & problems. This inevitability turns inwards & this is when Ego, Impostor Syndrome and the fear of not being good enough can take hold.

This is the 2nd ‘Leadership Insight’ podcast episode in the new series, where we will take a look at this fascinating area and how to limit the damage this can cause for us all.

Ego and impostor syndrome


Ego’s original definition is based on the Latin word “I”. In psychology, Freud adapted this to be the arbitrator between drives (The Id) & morals (Superego).

Put simply, Ego is a focus on self and self-esteem. Someone can be seen as egotistical when they are too fixated with self and their own needs & importance.

As before, the problem is that we all come from a place of lack. Our survival instinct is continually looking for our failings & weaknesses, so there is a continual need to build self-esteem & ego.

In business and life this can result in destructive behaviour including – too much need to prove ourselves, overly competing with others, becoming defensive, seeking accolades & for it all to be about you.

You may feel ego will give you drive, but it ultimately perpetuates the sense of lack. It neglects others & can be damaging for team culture &, if you are the head of a business, the culture of the organisation.

There is a different path & it starts with awareness. Noticing when ego is taking hold & choosing a different path. One more focused on the “We” not the “I”.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance & Suzanne Imes. In their paper, they theorized that women were uniquely affected by Impostor Syndrome.

Much research points to women being more adversely affected, but almost all of us experience moments when we feel a fraud or are waiting to be found out.

We are all impacted by self doubt, but this is a more extreme form that can damage our ability to grow and achieve our potential.

The key point is that none of us are 100% equipped for the position we are in. We all have the capability to grow & improve. This should be celebrated, not hidden away like a dirty secret.

The primitive part of our psychology sees where we are lacking. It fears we will be found out and put ourselves in danger. But by appreciating our strengths, our achievements & seeing that we are on a journey of growth, we can shift how we see ourselves.

It is mostly due to wonky thinking & focusing on our fallibility. But that thinking can be shifted. Changing our focus to continually take stock of our positives & growth is an important part of that.

The challenge of not feeling Good Enough

As we have discussed, most human thinking & behaviour is driven from a place of lack and driven by our survival instinct. We are continually looking for risks, deficiencies & problems. This inevitability turns inwards & we look at where we are not good enough.

To a certain extent this is important, especially at a time of crisis, but this primal thinking is too dominant.

This tendency to focus on our weaknesses or failings can be seen in many everyday examples – we get 95% +ve feedback but we fixate on the 5%, we don’t acknowledge our strengths, we don’t see improvement but how far we are from 100%, perfectionism, comparison with others.

This needs us to be more conscious & work on seeing our true self & ourselves as fundamentally good enough.

Transactional Analysis looks at how this can play out in relationships.

We typically take one of 3 positions in relationships – Child, Parent or Adult (here and now focused).  Only when we both take the ‘Adult’ position will we not trigger feelings of not being good enough.

This area is explored in more detail in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.

You can access the podcast:

  • on iTunes here
  • on Stitcher here
  • You can also search for Leadership Mindset by Tony Brooks on podcast Apps
  • You can also find the podcast on my website by clicking here

I invite you to take the time to listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth.

Please feel free to give me a call on 07912 143 040 or email me at tony@theleadershiptrainingworkshop.com and we can discuss how I can support your leadership development.