Whether you’re an entrepreneur or preparing to launch your business, there’s a high chance that Imposter Syndrome will strike.
That’s because you’re a high performing woman (whether you currently believe it or not) which puts you in the highest bracket of those who experience this phenomenon of feelings.
Starting and/or growing a business is exciting but also brings a lot of uncertainty. I know you’re passionate, ambitious and likely to have very high expectations on yourself. But you’re also stepping outside your comfort zone, learning along the way, may be outnumbered in your field or have chosen a highly competitive market. And this combination of pressure points can trigger Imposter Syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is an internalized and persistent fear that makes you doubt your own skills, talent and accomplishments despite a tonne of evidence of your competence.
The fear blocks you from your ability to connect with your success, therefore you constantly feel unworthy of it and that one day you’ll be exposed as a fake or fraud.
Here are 4 ways Imposter Syndrome shows up in your work.
1: Chronic self-doubt (I am talking 360-degree doubt)
Standard Self Doubt and Imposter Syndrome are not the same thing. Imposter Syndrome induced doubt is doubt AMPLIFIED. It’s all consuming - because you doubt your past accomplishments, your present performance, and your future capabilities. It leaves you with a constant negative story playing out in your mind (also known as your inner critic).
2: A constant feeling of being a fraud
Despite your objective success, you can’t shake the feeling that you’ll be tapped on the shoulder and told you’re not worthy of your position. That you’ll be exposed as a fake or fraud and that you’ve somehow ‘lucked’ your way to where you are now. It’s a persistent fear that you’re not good enough (and never have been) because Imposter Syndrome is tied to your self-worth.
You know those unrelenting high standards you put on YOURSELF. The fear of making a move unless it’s ‘perfect’? The procrastination because nothing is ever perfect in your mind, but you think if you just think about it longer, you’ll come up with the perfect action. The lack of satisfaction in anything you do because you’re more relieved you got it ‘perfect’ except soon after you ruminate on how it could have been better. The unrelenting stress of producing ‘perfect work’ and over-delivering in your business out of fear your clients will realise they’ve wasted their money.
4: Disregarding ‘wins’ and not accepting praise
You’ve received a reward or merit but believe there are others more qualified. Someone congratulates you on a great meeting and you say, ‘oh I was lucky it went smoothly’. You’re highlighted as a top 10 performer by an industry body or network, but you believe you haven’t performed at the level worthy of such recognition. Your colleagues’ email to congratulate you on a great business win and you think ‘oh they’re just being polite, it’s no big deal’. You deliver a great presentation but tell everyone you just ‘faked’ your way through it.
So how do you BEGIN to intercept these thoughts and behaviours?
Don’t shy away from Imposter Syndrome. Approximately, 70% of people experience Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives. It has a name and has been discussed and studied for nearly 50 years. It’s OK to put a label on it. You’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome because you’re a high performer. I encourage you to lean into and understand the ‘how and why’ it’s impacting you and share your feelings with people you trust including fellow Entrepreneurs.
Identify your trigger
Think of the FIRST moment that you felt like a fraud or a fake or when your self-worth took a hit. Identify exactly where that was, who you were with and what you were doing. Was it before or after you launched your business? There is a lot of really good data in what your original trigger was.
Get clear on your goals
Imposter Syndrome creates a negative fog around you. So having a clear vision, knowing your ‘WHY’, and setting monthly goals for your business gives you structure and direction. I know it’s not always easy to do as an Entrepreneur, but fear thrives in uncertainty. Where possible create boundaries to protect yourself, have set actions per day and micro wins you can celebrate. Consistent action builds momentum and confidence, and confidence is key to battling Imposter Syndrome.
Managing Imposter Syndrome in the long term
Learning to channel, manage, or even overcome Imposter Syndrome is a journey and not an overnight fix.
Your journey and timeframe are unique to you, based on your circumstances and trigger(s) but there is tremendous growth in the journey for all. Don’t shy away from your Imposter Syndrome, the faster you can understand its origin the faster you can learn to break it apart piece by piece, so it no longer holds you back.