We all know that impostor syndrome is real! It affects the most confident leaders at some point in their lives.
Super(wo)man syndrome is just as real and potentially more destructive, yet rarely acknowledged. It is especially prevalent in high-achievers and leaders who strive to always be the best. They want to have a significant impact in all areas of their lives and they believe that they are fully capable of creating their desired impact in whatever they put their minds to. People experiencing super(wo)man syndrome want to do more, achieve more, push themselves more. They often feel like it is their job to help others, to solve every problem, and to take on more and more. Why? Firstly, because it feels so good to be the person who helps others solve difficult and complex problems. Secondly, they know that they have been blessed with the abilities and skills to do so and not doing it would be a waste of their gifts. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to "save the world".
Sounds great, right? What's wrong with that?
The key distinction is: want vs should
Striving to be the best that you can be is part of what has probably led to you being as successful as you are and it likely brings you a lot of fulfilment and satisfaction. However, there is a destructive side to super(wo)man syndrome. This happens when one shifts from wanting to do more to believing that they should be doing more. In the words of one of my clients:
"I know in my head that I am successful and that I help others, but I just don't feel like I'm doing enough. I'm capable of more so I should be doing more!"
My client believed that in all his success he should be achieving more. He should be doing more. He should be helping others more. What he was ultimately saying is that HE should be more, resulting in him feeling like he is not good enough as he is. And it makes sense: the clue is in the word "high-achiever". And while that mindset can motivate you, as it did my client, to greatness, reinforcing that belief eventually leads to self-doubt, frustration, and potentially burnout. Inadvertently making it more difficult to increase the amount of success, fulfilment and satisfaction you experience in life.
So, what's the answer? Embrace your humanity and all your humanpowers that come with it. That is your true superpower as a leader. Want to read more about how to overcome Super(wo)man Syndrome? Check out the 4 common mindset "strengths" that may actually be holding you back.