Olivia Fox Cabane: The Mental Side of Power | Summary and Q&A

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November 14, 2012
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Stanford eCorner
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Olivia Fox Cabane: The Mental Side of Power

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Summary

In this video, the speaker talks about the single biggest obstacle that hinders our power, which is lack of self-confidence. They discuss the imposter syndrome, which affects a large portion of the population, including high achievers in business and education. The speaker then outlines a three-step process to dismantle the imposter syndrome: destigmatizing, detaching, and reframing negative thoughts.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the single biggest obstacle to our power?

The single biggest obstacle to our power is lack of self-confidence. This obstacle affects people more than the lack of financial resources, influence, or status symbols.

Q: What is the imposter syndrome?

The imposter syndrome is a manifestation of low self-confidence where people feel that they don't really know what they're doing. They fear that they will be exposed as frauds and believe that they are not deserving of their achievements. It is estimated that 70% to 80% of the population experiences the imposter syndrome.

Q: How do high-achieving students at top business schools experience the imposter syndrome?

At Stanford Business School, for example, when the incoming class is asked how many of them feel like they are the one mistake the admissions committee made, two-thirds of the students immediately raise their hands. This highlights the prevalence of the imposter syndrome even among highly accomplished individuals.

Q: What is the first step in dismantling the imposter syndrome?

The first step is destigmatizing the experience. This involves lifting the stigma of shame associated with feeling like an imposter. Shame is a performance killer and one of the worst emotions a person can feel. Destigmatizing it is crucial for individuals to overcome the imposter syndrome.

Q: How can leaders help in destigmatizing the imposter syndrome?

Leaders have a critical responsibility in helping people destigmatize the imposter syndrome. People often turn to leaders to understand how they should feel about their experiences. By acknowledging and normalizing the feeling as common, natural, and normal, leaders can play a significant role in destigmatizing it.

Q: What is the second step in dismantling the imposter syndrome?

The second step is detaching from negative thoughts. It is important to understand that our thoughts are not necessarily accurate or valid. Our minds have a limited capacity for conscious attention and filter information based on relevance and survival. This filtering can lead to distorted thinking, which tricks our minds into believing inaccurate thoughts are true.

Q: How does our brain filter information?

Our brain filters information based on what we specifically ask to pay attention to or what it considers important for our survival. It does not provide us with a true representation of reality but rather presents an incomplete view. While this filtering is usually useful, it can also give us a highly distorted view of reality at times.

Q: How can we detach from negative thoughts?

One approach recommended by cognitive scientists is to see negative thoughts as graffiti on a wall. Just as we don't take graffiti on a wall as a reflection of ourselves, we should see negative thoughts as separate from our identity. By viewing them as graffiti, we can distance ourselves from these thoughts and minimize their impact on our self-confidence.

Q: What is the third step in dismantling the imposter syndrome?

The speaker did not explicitly mention the third step in this video.

Q: Why is it important to dismantle the imposter syndrome?

Dismantling the imposter syndrome is crucial for individuals to reach their full potential and tap into their power. Overcoming self-doubt and building self-confidence allows individuals to pursue their goals with more effectiveness and belief in their abilities.

Takeaways

In conclusion, lack of self-confidence is the primary obstacle that hinders our power. The imposter syndrome, which affects a significant portion of the population, contributes to this lack of confidence. Dismantling the imposter syndrome involves destigmatizing the experience, detaching from negative thoughts, and reframing our perception of ourselves. By understanding that our thoughts are not always accurate and viewing negative thoughts as separate from our identity, we can overcome self-doubt and build self-confidence. This, in turn, allows us to tap into our full potential and pursue our goals with belief and effectiveness.

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