Is Impostor Syndrome Stopping You from Growing a Business?

“I don’t deserve this.” 

“They’re going to figure out I shouldn’t be here.”

“I don’t know what I’m talking about- I’m such a fraud.”

“How did I even get here? I just got lucky.”

“It’s only a matter of time before someone calls me out.”

Any of these statements sound familiar to you? If you’re a blog/business owner and you’re reading this post, I’m going to guess you’ve mumbled at least one of these thoughts over the course of your adult life. Not only are these thoughts totally destructive to your business, they can be way too exhausting to fight!

Welcome to the twisted world of Impostor Syndrome.

Harvard Business Review defines Impostor Syndrome as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”. 

It’s basically a combination of the most frightening, paralyzing, and RIDICULOUS feelings and thoughts we all get when trying to grow a successful business.  This is serious stuff and can cause people a ton of anxiety, self-doubt, overwhelm, fear and depression.

This is also not small time stuff. Thousands of people have admitted to having these feelings of inadequacy from high-powered executives to your favorite celebrities.

Marie Claire put together a collection of celebrity quotes talking about Impostor Syndrome, and many of them are shocking!

“When I got to Harvard just after the release of Star Wars: Episode 1, I feared people would assume I had gotten in just for being famous, and not worthy of the intellectual rigor here.” -Natalie Portman

“When I was younger, I just did it. I just acted. It was just there. So now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an impostor. It was just something I did.” -Emma Watson

“In a lot of ways, I’m quite proud that I’m still getting jobs. Because of falling into a job, you always feel like you’re a fraud, that you’re going to be thrown out at any second.” – Robert Pattinson

“After filming Catch Me If You Can, I choked. I felt this pressure to suddenly be this level of actress that I wasn’t confident enough to be. I did a series of really bad auditions, I let the nerves get the best of me. And the couple of years after that it was, ‘I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough to continue with this level of rejection’. It was, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ ” – Amy Adams

How crazy is that?! Celebrities that you and I believe to be talented, confident, and uber successful are still suffering from paralyzing thoughts of inadequacy.

I, personally, have always had severe bouts of Impostor Syndrome. Even as I write this post, I’m suffering from it! In the back of my mind I have thoughts like: “Why am I writing a post about Impostor Syndrome? I’m not authority on the subject! Why should anyone listen to me?”.

It’s a brutal trick your mind plays and it certainly doesn’t help you move ahead or succeed!

It’s clear that no one is immune from Impostor Syndrome, but people can learn to cope and handle it in a way that reinforces their confidence.

Let’s look at some of the ways we can dispel the myths that go along with Impostor Syndrome and think through what it means when we tell ourselves these negative thoughts.

Separate luck from success

Seriously, they are not the same thing! Success is not luck and being lucky does not mean you’ll be successful! Even if you believe you were given more opportunities than the average person, why would you punish yourself for that? It doesn’t mean you haven’t had to overcome obstacles- it’s just not the same set of obstacles you would have to overcome if you weren’t lucky. Who cares?! And how can you judge yourself when you never truly know what advantages or disadvantages other people have had as well.

Don’t assume if you become successful that you just “got lucky” because you are negating all the hard work and perseverance that goes into starting a business. Instead say to yourself “Maybe I did have an advantage, but being lucky doesn’t mean anything if I don’t use it.

Impostor Syndrome is selfish!

Business is about bringing value to people and providing a service or product that will help enhance someone else’s life. It’s not about you proving yourself worthy to others or trying to portray a “successful” image. If you think that way, you’re focusing on the wrong thing and making your business about yourself instead of the people you’re serving.

If only one person learns something from you or feels you provide them value, that should far outweigh your own fears of being a total fraud. If you let your fear stop you from starting or growing your business, you are denying people the opportunity to learn from your experiences.

Impostor or success?

So maybe you haven’t started a business yet or maybe you’re 5 years in and still feeling like you’re not worthy. So, let me ask, who IS worthy? Who do you look at and say “now THAT person has it all together.” Is it based on how many years of experience they have? Is it based on how confident they are? What is the personal algorithm for success you’ve created and made unattainable for yourself?

We can even argue that the people who are brand new in a business are the most knowledgeable of all! They are living, breathing and eating for their business while learning some SUPER hard lessons in real time. They are immersing themselves in knowledge given to them by people who have succeeded and failed before. What makes those people frauds? Nothing.

People aren’t thinking about you

We always have this fear don’t we? We always assume people are thinking about us, judging us and laughing about us over dinner. It just isn’t true!

People think about themselves and their own lives, and unless they have some personal vendetta against you,  no one cares what you’re doing or not doing. No one is looking to “expose” you or pick apart your life, and if they are, that says way more about them then it does you!

Step out of your shoes

What would you say to a friend who came and told you they felt like a fraud in their service-based business? I bet your first reaction would be, “what is she talking about? She knows so much about her industry!” or, “he’s so successful, I wonder why he feels like that…”. What about when we hear celebrities and high-powered business moguls talking about Impostor Syndrome? It seems crazy to us!  So why are we letting ourselves be overcome with such shame while dismissing the same feelings in other people?

Hearing your favorite actor/actress or business idol talk about feeling like a fraud should be evidence enough for you to see that EVERYONE deals with the same feelings and NO ONE is making it their life’s work to expose someone else.

You’re never the same person twice

Never. Let’s think about that for a minute- You know more now than when you were 5, or 12, or even last year. In the last minute you have read something that you’ve never read before when you clicked on this post. Every minute of your life that goes by means you’re changing and growing. So who’s the impostor here? The “you” from 5 years ago who knew far less about business, or the person today who’s researched, learned, failed and succeeded?

You can’t always remain an impostor! At some point there has to come a time when you give yourself credit for everything you’ve accomplished and take a step back to see how much you’ve grown.

Either we’re all impostors or we aren’t

So what makes you an impostor? Are you new into a startup or are you running a seasoned business? There are thousands of people in your position right now! Is every new business owner an impostor? What about every high-powered CEO? Everyone started somewhere.

Either they are all impostors (along with yourself) so everyone is in the same boat, or NONE of them are impostors..you included. You can’t allow your flawed logic to single you out as the only fraud- it doesn’t work that way! We’re all in this together, so if you’re an impostor, it means every CEO, business owner, blogger and celebrity must be one as well.

Failure proves nothing

Failure means you came to a fork in the road (or a few forks) and took the path that didn’t have the outcome you wanted. Along with that comes a TON of invaluable lessons you can carry forward to your next adventure.

Success is the exact same thing, only you took the fork in the road that eventually led to the outcome you wanted. Both failure and success give you experiences and lessons that make you valuable and worthy of sharing your knowledge with others!

So, you know what you’re feeling, but what the heck are you supposed to do about it?! 

Here are 4 things you can do to kick Impostor Syndrome out on it’s butt:

1. Presence your feelings

Presencing literally means the act of making something “present” or visible. This is exactly what you should be doing with Impostor Syndrome. The second you start feeling inadequate or fraudulent, say it out loud.

Tell yourself “this is my impostor bug speaking” or tell a friend, family member or even your customers how you’re feeling! Not only will this give you a little confidence boost, it will take you out of your own head and snap you back into the reality of logical thinking. As soon as you give a voice to your feelings, they will have far less power over you!

2. Be honest

And be honest EVERYWHERE- but especially in your business. Don’t exaggerate your skills or pretend you’ve accomplished things you haven’t because, technically, that is the only thing that actually makes you an impostor!

If you’ve been honest about your abilities and know and what you can do, there will be nothing to “expose” and absolutely no reason someone would call you out! In moment of weakness, honesty is the #1 way to prove to yourself logically that you are not an impostor.

3. Stop Comparing

Comparison is the WORST thing you can do to yourself and your business (I wrote a blog post about it a few months ago). There are so many reasons comparison is dangerous but the main one is because it makes you doubt yourself, your abilities, and the success you’ve achieved so far.

Take some time to stop checking out other blogs and turn off social media for a while. If you’re not in the right mindset, comparison can be a downright KILLER.

4. Get confident

Confidence will be your #1 asset as an entrepreneur and will define how you run your blog or business. Confidence will help you feel strong, satisfied and proud of your abilities, and most importantly, it will make other people’s opinions seem WAY less crucial.

And when you’re not as worried about what other people think of you, you’re not going to be as concerned about being “exposed” as a fraud or feeling like people believe you have mislead them. Confidence will be the magic ticket to help you minimize some of the negative effects of Impostor Syndrome once and for all!

Take some time to write down a list of accomplishments or things you’re proud of in your life, and write down all the steps and work it took to get yourself to that point. This will be your reminder that, YES, you are totally deserving of your success!

I know a lot of this is easier said than done, but it’s totally possible to change your mindset and grow your confidence!

Give yourself a kick in the pants next time you’re feeling like a huge fraud and download your Anti-Impostor Syndrome Check In!

Do you battle with Impostor Syndrome? Or have you found some great ways to cope with it? Let me know! 🙂

I would love to connect with you!
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