Imposter syndrome is what happens when you believe that you’re not as competent as others perceive you to be.
You may feel as though at any moment, you’ll be found out as a fraud. That you don’t belong where you are. You don’t deserve recognition. Or that you only got to where you are through some stroke of luck.
And because of those beliefs, you may be holding yourself back in business, and in life. You may not go after new opportunities, explore areas of interest, or put yourselves out there in a meaningful way.
what type of imposter are you?
According to Dr. Valerie Young, there are 5 different types of imposters:
The perfectionist: your primary focus is on how something is done. You may never be fully satisfied with your work and feel that it could always be better. Rather than focus on your strengths, you notice all your flaws and mistakes.
The expert: your focus is on what you know or can do. You are always trying to learn more, because you under-value the expertise that you already have. You may be constantly taking new courses or certifications to “prove” that you know enough. Yet you rarely want to be recognised as a true expert in your field.
The soloist: you care mostly about who completes the task, and that “who” needs to be you! You prefer to work alone and tend to see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Because of this, you can often feel overwhelmed, it may take you longer to get things done and you may experience burnout frequently.
The genius: you care about how quickly and easily you can master a skill. You tend to set really high goals for yourself, but if you don’t get it right on the first try, you feel like a failure and often give up.
The superwoman: you measure your success based on how many roles you can juggle at any time – business owner, wife, mother, child, friend, volunteer,etc. You often push yourself to work as hard as possible, yet feel like a failure when you can’t meet all the demands you’ve placed on yourself.
I fall into the ‘superwoman’ category
I underestimate how long a task may take me and then feel disappointed when I can’t meet the arbitrary deadline that I set for myself.
Although I can be a bit unkind to myself on the days when I am not productive “enough”, I don’t experience feelings of failure or dwell too much on the past.
Instead, I am becoming more realistic about what I can achieve in a certain period of time, and I am also incorporating rest into my days so I don’t become overwhelmed.
imposter syndrome shows up in many forms
Other ways that imposter syndrome may show up for you include:
- undercharging for your services or products
- playing small rather than going after your big dreams
- dismissing your achievements or berating your performance
- staying quiet, even when you have something to say
- constantly worrying that you’re not “enough”
- attributing your success to external factors
- fearing that you won’t live up to expectations
- sabotaging your own success
Do any of these sound familiar?
You can find out how severe your imposter syndrome is with this quick test.
I scored 42 / 100, but when I was starting my business 7+ years ago, it’s pretty likely that score would have been a lot higher!
can we ever really escape imposter syndrome?
Despite having nearly 20 years of experience in my professional career and nearly half of those as a business owner, I still suffer from imposter syndrome from time-to-time.
For me, it mostly shows up as self-doubt when I’m stepping into something new and outside of my comfort zone (like now….but more on this soon!!!).
I worry that I won’t be successful or that I won’t live up to (my own) expectations.
I also have a long history of dismissing my achievements and quickly move my focus onto the next thing (something I’ve come to learn is referred to as ‘summit syndrome‘!).
how can you stop it from stopping you?
If you don’t manage your imposter syndrome, it can hold you back from the things that you most want in your life.
So how can you stop it from stopping you?
1. share your feelings
Talk to other people (especially other business owners) about how you are feeling. From working with 100s of people over the years and hosting panel discussions on this topic, I can guarantee that you are not alone in this!
2. be objective about your abilities
Let go of the belief that you need to excel at everything! Write down all your accomplishments and what you are good at. Then focus on working within your strengths. (I highly recommend this Strengths Profile assessment, so you can truly be objective!)
3. question your thoughts
The way you think will impact the way that you feel. And the way you feel will impact how you act. Start to notice your thoughts and question if they are truly rational. Does it really make sense that you’re a fraud, given all of your experience and everything that you know?
4. stop comparing yourself
As I shared in a recent video, comparison is the thief of joy. Every time you compare yourself to others, you may find something that fuels that feeling of not being “enough”.
5. take things one step at a time
Often our big, audacious goals can intimidate us and seem out of reach. Break your goals down into smaller steps. Rather than foucsing on doing things perfectly, do things consistently. Steady progress will lead to big results.
6. refuse to let it hold you back
No matter how much you feel like a fraud, or feel like you don’t belong, don’t let that hold you back. Each time you fight against feelings of imposter syndrome, you increase your confidence in who you are and what you are doing.
ready to pursue your goals with confidence?
Imposter syndrome may never truly go away, but it certainly becomes easier to manage over time!
The best way to increase your confidence in who you are and what you’re doing is by choosing the the pieces of your story that you want to keep and share with others.
When you learn to tell your story authentically and with ease, your imposter syndrome will diminish. You will stop standing on the sidelines and stop feeling as though your experience isn’t enough.
And this alone will have a tremendous positive impact on your business.
I will teach you all this and more in Storytelling School, a 4-week course to help you talk and write about yourself and your business with confidence and ease! Learn more and enrol here.