Whitney Houston was no Imposter

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

I Want to Dance with Somebody”  on my CD player back in the late 80’s, I just let myself go and danced around the room singing along with Whitney as voice soared above the rhythm  and beat of the music to convey her message of love. As I watched the news reports of Whitney’s untimely death, I couldn’t help but think that it was all about the love and appreciation that she seemed to never feel that she earned or gained in her professional work. I heard the Kevin Costner commented at her funeral that one of Whitney’s enduring life concerns was the sense that she was never good enough or pretty enough and likable enough. Even though it is hard to believe that a talent as amazing as Whitney Houston would feel that way, perhaps it is even more surprising that many successful people often feel like they are just not good enough. Known as the Imposter Syndrome it is a feeling that is tightly held by the individual that they are not really talented and that one day someone will discover that they are just a big phony. Lots of explanations are used to describe why these great people often feel this way–they don’t attribute their success to their talent–They don’t celebrate successes but just focus on what they have to do next–they have tunnel vision and just focus on what did not work. Conventional wisdom about overcoming the Imposter syndrome include:

  • Getting the great feedback from others who believe in you
  • Staying away from negative people who only find ways to criticize you
  • Stop using the word “but” that tends to discount what you say and instead use the word “and” which is much more inclusive.
  • Be honest in your assessment of yourself and make sure that for any negative about yourself you have 2 positives.
While we’ll never have the enormous talent of someone like Whitney, it is fair to say that some of us may have the same kind of self doubt that she had harbored for many years. Don’t let your uncertainty of your talents get in the way of how you feel about yourself and what you can achieve in your work and life]]>

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