We were delighted to sit down with Dianna Morikawa from Senhasegura after her session with Lisa Ventura, Co-Founder of Imposter Syndrome Awareness Day, to talk about turning doubts into motivation to conquer your inner imposter. Here is what she had to say:
How do you feel that imposter syndrome has impacted your career?
I have learned to take that self-doubt and insecurity to push myself to be better. I would devote more time into my work to go beyond the surface of my role and invest time to self-educate. Knowledge and constant learning is my weapon of choice.
Have you experienced not being treated equally or fairly in the workplace and if so, how?
Yes, I have had my hard work taken from me and given to others all the time. People tend to identify your strength and try to keep you at THEIR comfort level vs. giving you the opportunity to grow and pursue other areas. I am very fortunate to find an amazing boss in my career that is very supportive and values my work and allows for such growth.
Do you think that imposter syndrome is a direct result of not being treated fairly in the workplace?
Most definitely – when you put so much effort into your job and turn around and promote someone else you start to wonder if you’re good enough. I remember the first time this had happened to me: I was working at a biotech company, and we were having some issues with constant errors. They were not able to identify the source. I created a process to track and test and identify the failure point quickly and was also cost effective. When a position opened up in the engineering dept, I applied. I never got the opportunity to even interview, but my team mate did. They also gave her the process flow that I had designed and had her train ME on how to do it. She was not a troubleshooter nor did she understand the chemistry involved in the manufacturing process. That was soul crushing for me, and I learned at that point that it’s not about effort/work/contribution sometimes.
How can we help others understand that their value to society is not determined by their career/job?
For many people: a career/job is just a way to pay the bills and survive. It does not say anything about who you are as a person. I have worked with so many doctors (for example) and learned that they did not get into their careers because they want to “help others”, they can be egotistical and cruel. There are so many people that volunteer at shelters, nursing homes, etc. How you spend the remaining 72 hours a week (8 hours a night for sleep) can be invaluable to feeding your soul.
Do you think that being bullied and abused in the workplace contributes to feelings of imposter syndrome? How big a problem is this?
It’s a huge problem and I’ve been in this situation so many times in my career. It doesn’t even have to be a manager that does it. It can be a peer that perceives you as a threat. I’ve been in many toxic workplaces and it made me walk on eggshells. Feeling like you’re being watched and waiting for you to make a mistake so that it can be leveraged against you can really impact how you view yourself and your worth. I remember the first time it happened and my error (a very minor one that is more of an equipment flaw) was announced in a very loud voice like he had won the lottery. I countered: do you only make a big announcement about it because you FINALLY found an error in my work? He quietly agreed and stopped immediately. You learn that what people that are trying to impose on you and question your worth speaks more about their own insecurities vs the person that they are targeting.
How can you turn doubts into motivation to help you expand your knowledge and experience?
I read… CONSTANTLY! I am fortunate that my educational background involves lots of research so it’s my comfort zone and my crutch.
Do you think things have improved when it comes to misogyny and being from a minority background, or is there still a long way to go for true equity to be achieved?
I’ve been following several people on LinkedIn that have been bringing this to light and although I feel validated that I’m not “pulling the race card”, it’s sad that it is as prevalent as it is. I think that Asians in particular have found the strength to have a voice. We have been the silent “model minority” for too long and have been quietly accepting what we were given vs. given the same opportunities as others. How many decades have Hollywood have claimed that Asians were “not marketable”? We still have much to achieve in equality and I hope that it will happen within my lifetime.
How can our followers be part of a support system to help others who are joining the workforce?
Just provide awareness and listen to others. When someone reaches out and wants to discuss their situation at work and needs a sanity check. Ask questions. Their feelings matter. Encourage them to empower themselves and to have a voice. Minimize the opportunity for others to oppress them. Have a support system at work that can be objective and observe the situation from a different lens. Have them support you when you are attacked. Having allies at your workplace is invaluable since they will know the personalities at work and can provide valuable insight.
What experiences have you had of imposter syndrome in your life and career?
With my science background: we are trained to never feel that what we “know” is 100%. We are trained to believe that in time, more data and tests will be collected and what we thought were right was not – we are open to changing our theories as more information is given. The challenge for me is how it creates a perception of “lack of confidence” in people that are not science trained. It snowballs from there as you can imagine especially when you’re dealing with egos that feel like the KNOW better and if you’re not 100% confident then you’re weak. I learned to preface my work and opinions by saying: based on the data provided….
If we forget everything you have said in this interview, what is the one piece of advice you wish to give? What’s your last word?
My closing advice is this: apply and go for as many opportunities as possible. You can do this by building your resume, knowing your worth and keep growing and learning.
Watch Dianna’s session for International Imposter Syndrome Awareness Day with Lisa Ventura here.