What is Imposter Syndrome?
As an entrepreneur, you might find yourself feeling like you’re not up to the task sometimes. You could feel like you don’t fit the role you defined for yourself. It feels like you have made a claim to something you are not. In a way, imposter syndrome is a form of insecurity.
If you are experiencing the imposter syndrome, you would feel like there must be more to it before you can claim to be who you need to be for the business. You look to others, people you look up to, as you take on this journey and grow as an entrepreneur. But you feel like you are never going to be like them. It feels like you are being an imposter of them.
Why do we feel it?
There might be deeper psychological reasons to why we feel the imposter syndrome.
It could be a dominant voice that we have in our heads saying we are never good enough. This voice is only there because we have given it permission, subconsciously.
There’s also a possibility that we love our comfort zone too much, owning it or recognising ourselves confidently may seem too much of a hassle. It may seem easier to just blame it on imposter syndrome. It’s actually easier to succumb to the defeat.
Why is it Damaging?
While it is normal to have imposter syndrome, it will definitely slow down growth of your business and even yourself as a person. The lack of self awareness and confidence will cost you more than you think.
If not diagnosed and treated early, it will make you a mediocre entrepreneur. And mediocrity is not a trait an entrepreneur should have. It will lead to going out of business.
There is a fine line between being a fraud and having imposter syndrome thoughts in your mind. But in reality, it’s a very clear and wide gap.
Frauds lie, fake their way through, and have no proof of expertise. If you are a legitimate entrepreneur, you will know that there will definitely be things you don’t know on Day 1. Some like to pretend that they do but I don’t recommend it. It’s 100% ok to say you don’t know. If you are legit, you will know that you have put in all the hard work to close the customers you have and to service them.
You need to see the money that customers pay you as a certificate for work that has been promised and delivered. Frauds don’t have that. The fraud’s days are numbered, which is why they hit hard and fast, and they disappear. But you know that entrepreneurship is a long game.
Of course, the world will not see it the way you do, which is why you will always encounter haters. The sooner you realise there will always be haters, the better.
Three things you can do to overcome Imposter Syndrome
1 — Be self aware
You need to know and be able to articulate to yourself, and even others — what your worldview is, what makes you happy, and everything in between — these include opportunities you are pursuing and how they relate to your beliefs, your skill sets and what you have mastered in life, and last but not least, your passions in life.
The sweet spot is the intersection between all of the above areas.
When you are self aware, you will be able to know when these imposter syndrome feelings emerge and snuff it out for the sake of your business and all that depends on it.
2 — Talk to others
Believe it or not, you are not alone. Start talking to others about this. If the person denies having imposter syndrome, he’s either lying or one of the very few who has incredible confidence.
If you keep talking to others who are in the same place as you, i.e. entrepreneurs on the rise… you will find that you are not alone. Knowing that hopefully can make you feel better.
The reality is that no matter where you are in business and life, everyone’s trying to figure it out for themselves.
3 — Keep an accomplishment file or wall
List down your clients. Make a collage to show what you have accomplished. Especially if you are a few years into the business. If imposter syndrome hits, go look at that wall. I have a wall in the office with some clients we’ve closed and a wall with certificates for speaking and other professional accreditations. Besides looking nice for the office, these walls tell me that we have come quite far since we started the business. I look at them whenever I feel the imposter syndrome.
You may also want to keep in file some form of tracking capabilities to show your earnings, total number of clients, marketing metrics, etc. These numbers show how well your business is doing, and tells you that there’s no room for having imposter thoughts.
Quote from a French philosopher — Michel de Montaigne : “Kings and Philosophers shit, so do ladies.”
We see the best of people on social media and when we meet them. Of course, people will show their very best versions. What you don’t see is the insecurities in their minds. You don’t see the shit they go through. Some might be worse than yours. This is also one of the reasons why being vulnerable works so well in gaining influence because deep down, most of us go through some kind of challenge and when we see someone we can relate to, we pay more interest.
With all that said, I do wish to comment with this — This feeling of not good enough is actually good for you, if deployed correctly. If it influences you and causes you to fail at getting clients and growing your business then that is not good. However, if you use it to grow your expertise and skills then that’s how it’ll help you.
Imposter Syndrome will always be a part of most entrepreneurs. Don’t feel inadequate about it. What you need to do is to gain self awareness by thinking about the various areas of your life such as happiness, obligations and what your expertise truly is.
Destroy the feeling of being an imposter as soon as it surfaces because it will stint your business growth and limit your potential. Instead, use that feeling to learn, upgrade, and make a better version of yourself — Not to feel like you are getting closer to the people you look up to, but to do it for yourself.
You’ve only got yourself to prove.