Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Mindset

You’ve chased and won the biggest and best client of your solopreneur career so far; a real big fish and it’s going to put you on the map. You should be elated, buzzing with excitement and giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back…

But no. Instead, you have cold sweats as you lie awake at night full of fear, because now you’re thinking this client is going to find out that you aren’t as good as you made them believe. They will discover you don’t actually know what you’re talking about at all, that you’re really just a fraud. An imposter.

Sound familiar? Welcome to Imposter Syndrome. It’s a dark and lonely place, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! With just a few simple steps you can overcome imposter syndrome and feel good about your accomplishments and continue to reach your goals.

Impostor Syndrome is very common among entrepreneurs

Imposter Syndrome Definition

Despite what the name may suggest, imposter syndrome is not an illness or a mental disorder, it is also not linked to low self-esteem, weakness, or failure. Nor is it a rare occurrence. In fact, recent studies have suggested that around 70% of Americans have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.

So, what is it exactly?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which achievers experience feelings of self-doubt, are unable or uncomfortable acknowledging their role in their own success and have a persistent fear of being discovered as a fraud.

The term was first used in a 1978 study by psychologists exploring why high achieving women were more likely to say their success was down to luck rather than their own accomplishments. However, the term is now widely used to describe the experience of inadequacy felt by both male and female high-achievers.

Imposter syndrome is like a little negativity-troll that lives in your head and steals the joy of success leaving you a bag of self-doubt instead!

What Does Imposter Syndrome Mean for your Business?

If you let the imposter troll run riot it can have a real negative impact on your health and your businesses future. Living with constant self-doubt and fear of failure is mentally and physical exhausting!

Missed Opportunities

By constantly fighting with this skewed perspective of yourself and your situation, your brain doesn’t have the energy to be productive, to create, to make decisions or take necessary actions for future success, which results in missed opportunities.

Even when we have all the credentials and ability, imposter syndrome floods us with doubt and fear. It limits the courage needed for chasing new opportunities and exploring our true potential.

Burnout

Feeling like an imposter can lead to setting impossibly high goals for yourself. Just to belong you have to be better, do more, be more. It can create a need to be superhuman in order to feel deserving of position and success, creating a huge risk of entrepreneurial burnout, not to mention damaged health and relationships, and a completely off-balance work/life situation.

Impostor Syndrome can seem hard to overcome

4 Steps to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Step 1: Recognise the Fear and Realise you are Not Alone

When those feelings of self-doubt and fear of failure start to set in, remind yourself that this is perfectly normal. You are experiencing the same feelings that so many other successful people have felt before you. You know they are successful, you know they deserve it… and so do you.

Some of the world’s most respected authors, actors, performers, entrepreneurs and world leaders have gone through periods of self-doubt and have suffered from imposter syndrome.

Here are a few quotes from well-known ‘imposters’:

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

Maya Angelou

“There are still days I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and former Google executive

…the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”

Albert Einstein

Step 2: Acknowledge your Truth

It can be really difficult to shake that troll off your back, so take a deep breath and just take stock of where you are, what you have already accomplished and how far you’ve come.

If it helps, write these things down. Often, what we skim over and dismiss in ourselves as worthless are the very same things we respect in other people.

Writing down your strengths and accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem can help you break through the fear and lies of self-doubt. It forces you to realise and recognise your achievements and the obstacles you have overcome to get where you are.

You have, in fact, earned your place and you do, in fact, deserve to be there.

Step 3: Talk

What gives imposter syndrome its power is the silent suffering that comes with it. If you are scared of being discovered as a fraud, then chances are you won’t be so keen to have an open discussion about it!

But this is exactly what you should do.

If you are feeling out of your depth or that you don’t belong reach out to someone, like a mentor or a coach. I guarantee that they have felt the exact same way! Hearing this from someone you look up to can help open your eyes and give you a new perspective on your own abilities.

If you don’t have a mentor to talk to, reaching out to a friend or family member can also help. Someone who knows your journey will be able to give you the confidence boost you need to shake down the negativity-troll.

Step 4: Find the Positive

This step may be the most difficult, but try to keep in mind that imposter syndrome creeps in when success or new opportunities are at play. Staying mindful of that can be your rock when self-doubts start to take hold.

Questioning your value can also be a great way to discover opportunities for growth in yourself and your business. Of course, it’s a fine line to walk but by following these steps you’ll have the tools you need to overcome imposter syndrome.

Be positive
Find the positive

Conclusion

So, the next time an opportunity arises, or you experience a win and you find yourself thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this!’, take a step back from the imposter troll!

The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognise it for what it is. When we shine the light on the imposter troll and talk about our fears openly, they no longer have the same power over us, and we can even use them to discover areas we can develop and improve upon.  

Take the time to remind yourself of your journey and your worth, and give yourself some credit… You got this!

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About the Author

I transform how solopreneurs manage their time so they can focus on running their dream business. Read more...

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