You know that feeling where you’re doing something amazing, like daydreaming about a business idea, creating a new system or process in your business or just levelling up in general, and you keep hearing this tiny voice inside your head yelling NO, NOPE, UH-UH, NOWAYS, AS IF, YOU? REALLY?
Well, that’s what Imposter syndrome feels like. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of being a complete fraud in your field and feeling like all your achievements are a symptom of luck and not hard work. It’s feeling like you don’t deserve anything that you’ve achieved.
Imposter syndrome is real, and everybody experiences it. Yes, even you! It usually pops up when you start putting yourself out there as an authority in your field or when you say you can do something that you haven’t really done enough to feel super confident about it. This is an unavoidable step in the entrepreneurial journey, and it’s unavoidable because you push yourself to grow.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is bound to make you feel...well..uncomfortable. And Imposter syndrome is there to make you feel as uncomfortable as it gets.
As an entrepreneur, you’re always pushing yourself to places you haven’t been, and Imposter syndrome is a natural by-product of that push. If you don’t have imposter syndrome, you’re probably staying where you are because you’ve gotten comfortable, and we all know that stagnation, whilst “safe”, isn’t all that fun or ground-breaking. And if you’re not constantly pushing yourself to grow, are you even an entrepreneur? ;)
The first thing you need to understand is that when you try something new for the first time, you don't know if you're going to succeed. And if that new thing is hard, you likely won't succeed at first.
Imposter syndrome is natural when you are growing, so try to embrace it. It means you’re stretching yourself to new heights, and only then can you achieve greater things in your business and life. Identify it for what it is and choose not to let it affect your ability to grow.
And secondly, be honest about what you know and don’t know. You don't have to apologise for what you don't know or tell people how much you don't know, but you can qualify yourself with your experience. Just remember that even the most well-known and well-respected people in your field have experienced imposter syndrome, and if you never felt it, it likely means you aren’t pushing yourself to grow.
Now that we’ve gotten a better idea of what we’re dealing with, let’s talk about how we can actually win against this ugly feeling.
How To Take Imposter Syndrome Down!
1) Break the Silence
Shame keeps a lot of people from ‘fessing up about their fraudulent feelings. Knowing there’s a name for these feelings and that you are not alone can be tremendously freeing. So don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling.
2) Separate Feelings from Fact
There are times you’ll feel stupid.
It happens to everyone from time to time. But there’s a lot of power in realising that just because you feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.
3) Recognise Other Influencers
A sense of belonging fosters confidence.
If you’re the only one in a meeting,
classroom, field, or workplace who look or sound like you or are much older or younger, then it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognise that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence.
4) Focus on the positive
Oftentimes, Imposter syndrome can make you hone in on every little detail, with special focus on your weaknesses or failures.
Flip this on its head and hone in on the nitty gritty details of your successes and strengths.
5) Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake-making
Instead of beating yourself up for falling short, do what players on the losing sports team do and glean the learning value from the loss, and move on reminding yourself, “I’ll get ’em next time.”
6) Right the rules
If you’ve been operating under misguided rules (even rules that you’ve given yourself) like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help,” start asserting your rights.
Recognise that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance.
7) Develop a new script
Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script. Then instead of thinking, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” tell yourself “Everyone who starts something new feels off-base in the beginning. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.”
8) Visualise Success
Spend time picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly having a difficult conversation with an employee. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress.
9) Reward yourself
Break the cycle of continually seeking and then dismissing validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back.
10) Fake it ‘til you make it
Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands. Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behaviour first and allow your confidence to build.
The next time that little voice in your head starts to niggle away at your confidence and peace of mind, don’t be afraid to challenge it.
Everyone experiences doubt, but as an entrepreneur, you have already taken the first step to overcoming doubt. You started your own company when people said you were crazy. You employ people who are now able to support their families. And, you’re killing it!
Remember who you are, remember what you've already accomplished, think positive, and tackle doubt as you've tackled it in the past. Instead of clinging to the chains of your fears, let go and inspect them - you may be surprised by what you learn when you don't run away.