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  • Writer's pictureAndy at Fireside Fundraising

The most harmful story we tell ourselves - Imposter Syndrome in our sector.

When thinking of the content I could bring you in this blog, I was stumped. I was trying to find something that would be amazing value. Something that would empower you and make your week a bit brighter. But, nothing I was coming up with felt quite good enough. And that’s when it came to me. Helping fundraisers tell their stories is my passion. But sometimes, the stories we tell can be harmful - particularly when we look at the stories we tell ourselves.

The most harmful story we tell ourselves is that we’re not good enough. That we haven't done enough. That someone else would've done more.


Almost every fundraiser I've ever met suffers from imposter syndrome. We're in the sector because we care. Our job is to tell stories and to deliver programmes for our service users. But it can often feel like our job is actually to cure cancer, to end animal cruelty or to end bigotry. This job is impossible for one person. So it can be easy to get into that place of impossibility. We can finish a day feeling like we're not enough as we are. Our brain defaults to imposter syndrome because it goes into cognitive dissonance - when our brains are holding two opposing beliefs. Our actions are showing us that moving towards our goals. But, our brains tell us something very different: that the task at hand is impossible. This leaves us even the most strategic of us feeling like we are 'winging it', just waiting to be found out. A study in the Harvard Business Review asked CEOs about their deep-seated fears. The clear front runner was the fear of “being found to be incompetent”. Because of the field we work in, it’s nearly impossible to 'completely' solve the problems we're here for. We can't change the world by ourselves - at least not every day - and this can often leave us feeling like we haven’t achieved anything. The way through, then, is to define what 'good enough' looks like. To get a clear sense of what you must, should and could do - and to know you're not in this alone.

I hope that reading this gives you a moment to breathe. If you're struggling with imposter syndrome right now, I want you to know that I see you, I feel you, and I'm here. You're doing great.


Why do I feel like an imposter?: How to understand and cope with Imposter Syndrome by Dr Sandi Mann Book Cover


I was talking to my friend and psychology graduate Lara about this, she recommended a brilliant book:

Why Do I Feel Like an Imposter?: How to Understand and Cope with Imposter Syndrome by Dr Sandi Mann

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