TC 289: Cafe Book Club – Presence Part 4 – I Don’t Deserve to Be Here

TC 289: Cafe Book Club – Presence Part 4 – I Don’t Deserve to Be Here

In this chapter of Presence titled “I Don’t Deserve to Be Here”, Amy Cuddy explores the Impostor Phenomenon. Host Robin Masiewicz, Amy Frost, Dr. Kymn and Michelle discuss how this mind set affects them, and suggest ways of dealing with self doubt.

“If achieving presence requires us to be totally in tune with our truest feelings, beliefs, abilities, and values, then we certainly cannot be present when we feel like a fraud. Instead, we are discordant, frazzled, and utterly unconvincing. And just as presence is self-reinforcing, so, too, is feeling fake.”

“Impostorism steals our power and suffocates our presence. If even you don’t believe you should be here, how will you convince anyone else?”

“Presence and impostorism are opposing sides of the same coin–and we are the coin.”

Impostor Phenomenon

Pauline Rose Clance with input from Nancy Zumoff developed the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) to measure the extent to which they felt they “didn’t deserve to be there”. Subjects are asked to rate as true or false a series of statements including:

  • I’m afraid people important to me may find out that I’m not as capable as they think I am.
  • Sometimes I feel or believe that my success in my life or in my job has been the result of some kind of error.
  • When I’ve succeeded at something and received recognition for my accomplishments, I have doubts that I can keep repeating that success.
  • I often compare my ability to those around me and think they may be more intelligent than I am.
  • If I receive a great deal of praise and recognition for something I’ve accomplished, I tend to discount the importance of what I’ve done.

Amy Cuddy discusses best selling author and Sci-Fi legend Neil Gaiman, winner of an amazing number of literary awards including the Newberry and Carnegie medals for The Graveyard Book, and the Hugo and Nebula awards to name just a few. Several of his books have been made into live-action movies (Stardust, which he also produced) and animated feature films such as Coraline, and the Neverwhere TV series. His works of short fiction include Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, and Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. By any measure Neil Gaiman is an astounding success.

Yet Neil Gaiman also reportedly suffers from “imposter syndrome”. He is still afraid that he will be “found out”, despite many years of continued success.

He describes these feelings in a brilliant commencement keynote address to 2012 class of the University of the Arts:

“The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.”

“In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.”


Take the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale test.

The American Psychological Association has an article entitled Feel like a fraud? that addresses these feelings among graduate students, along with some suggestions for dealing with it.

If you recognize yourself in the description of the impostor phenomenon, take heart. There are ways to overcome the belief that you don’t measure up:

  • Talk to your mentors
  • Recognize your expertise
  • Remember what you do well
  • Realize no one is perfect
  • Change your thinking
  • Talk to someone who can help

Tools for Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Another resource dealing with this subject is titled The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It by Valerie Young.

The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success by Joyce M. Roche, Ed Whitacre, and Alexander Kopelman.


Heart Focused Breathing

One of the tools that Amy Frost mentions that helps her to be present is Heart Focused Breathing. You can learn more about this technique at

Quick Coherence Breathing Technique

Another exciting week of powerful tools and techniques is coming your way. Let us know what you think of the book, and any comments you may have about the show. We’re always glad to hear from the Community!

Next chapter: How Powerlessness Shackles the Self (and How Power Sets it Free)

Big Ideas from Presence:

  • Presence – Attuned and expressing your personal power
  • Self-Affirmation Theory – You’re Awesome!
  • Priming and Nudges – Build your personal power
  • Expand your Body – to expand your personal power
  • iHunch – Hunching over your phone diminishes your power
  • “I’m Excited!” – Reframe feelings of fear or nervousness as excitement
  • Boldest Version of You – Move like that. Today.

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