You are highly talented at what you do.
You’ve trained hard, put in the hours on the ground floor and you’ve produced great results but there is one thing holding you back.
It’s that tiny little voice in your head that is so powerful and has such a control over you that it’s making you think that you are still not good enough.
Not good enough to put yourself out there, and if you do, then someone will point the finger at you and tell you you’re a fraud, that you don’t know what you’re talking about and that what you say is rubbish.
I remember when I was in my 20s I was working for a company and our Chief Counsel used to ask me to complete the Annual Return forms for 50 companies we owned – I had no idea what I was doing.
He would tell me that I just had to copy the last year’s return and change some numbers. Excuse my language but WTF?! I was in marketing not finance – I didn’t have a clue.
I dreaded having to do these return forms and I was in constant turmoil feeling that I was going to be found out and fired at any moment. Luckily for me in some ways but not in others, the company soon went into liquidation and it had nothing to do with those annual returns.
Now, I wasn’t experienced in completing those forms and I wasn’t just out of my comfort zone I was in my terrifying zone and I really shouldn’t have been asked to do that job but I was too scared to speak up.
Nevertheless, it taught me one important lesson…
Most people don’t take any notice
During two years working on this thankless task I had no real idea of how to do, my manager never once came back to tell me I had done anything wrong. The reason for this wasn’t because I was doing it 100 per cent right, I really didn’t have a clue. The fact was that my manager was too busy to check and wasn’t taking any notice.
I am not advocating that you should do something that is completely out of your area of knowledge and experience without putting yourself through the right training but a lot of people are scared to step into the spotlight even on the stuff that they are experts in.
What happens when you hold yourself back is that you deny yourself the chance to share your talent with your potential tribe. You stop yourself from shining on the one subject that you know incredibly well.
Some people hold back because they don’t have a slip of paper that says they spent three or four years studying this subject. But they often have years and years of experience and a huge amount of great insight to share.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Bertrand Russell said “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure & the intelligent R full of doubt”” quote=”Or as Bertrand Russell once said: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”.”]
We simply don’t want to be judged
Here’s the thing about judging – it’s part of human nature.
Everyone judges everyone because it helps us to gravitate towards what we perceive to be the least threatening option, especially in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. And once we have made that judgement we now have to consider whether we will avoid that person or doing that activity or giving that person or activity a chance.
But the truth about the people we’re concerned will judge us is that they are often too busy to give it more than a moment’s thought and then it’s out of their heads. People also aren’t as predisposed to be critical as we often imagine they are as we think about putting our ideas out there for wider scrutiny.
Plus it is only when you are vocal about your struggles and the challenges you face that you win people’s hearts and engage them with what you think is most important. When you open up and are prepared to be vulnerable and admit that you are worried and concerned then you might be surprised just how ready people are to be compassionate and encouraging.
How to overcome Impostor Syndrome
If you feel that you suffer from imposter syndrome then here are some steps you can take to overcome it.
1. Remind yourself of your successes
Put 30-60 minutes aside and write down all the successes you’ve had in your life. It could be starting up your own business, landing your first client, doing your first FB Live. Or it could be some of those life milestones, for example, passing your driving test, going to university, buying or renting your first apartment or anything else that you are particularly proud of.
Write down your list of successes and then say them out loud preferably in front of another person. You might be surprised at just how much you have accomplished and how amazing you feel.
2. Practise sending out good vibes
A lot of the time people experience imposter syndrome because they are comparing themselves to others. Judging your own self-worth against other people is a recipe for disaster because you are inviting negativity into your life. And, guess what, the more you focus on what you think you lack the more lack will show up in your life.
The key here is to catch yourself doing it.
And when this happens, firstly send out good thoughts to the person you were comparing yourself to and then be kind to yourself. Get a piece of paper and write down the issue and underneath that write three reasons why you can also do it.
Sometimes we just need to see something through a different lens.
3. Dismiss the idea it was all down to luck
Humble people will often play down their achievements in their own minds and attribute their successes in large part to luck. It is important though not to fall into the trap of playing down your own hard work in getting the important contract, the big promotion or the dream client etc. Everything you have done brought you to that point of success.
What happens when you own it is that your vibration rises, you start to feel amazing and you celebrate your success. Celebrating can be doing something to mark the occasion but it can also be giving yourself a few minutes to connect into the feeling of how brilliant you have been to have achieved all that you have.
4. Realise that we all make mistakes
Mistakes are not part of failing but part of our success because we receive the gift of insight and experience and we have the opportunity to learn from that.
The struggle we face is when we feel that it’s ok for other people to make mistakes but we convince ourselves that we have to be perfect.
The truth is that we will never be perfect and we will always fall short occasionally. By realising this and be conscious of it, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience the joy of the results we achieve.
Of course, it’s always good to review your own performance and identify after a particular project what worked and what didn’t but fixating on the failings to too great an extent is unhealthy and unproductive.
So, when something hasn’t materialised in the way you had hoped, reflect on all the good things that came out of that experience. Write a list of 10 experiences that were tough at the time but that you are better off as a result of going through. Ask yourself, what insights did you glean, what did you learn about yourself (the good things), who did you meet or get to know as a result of doing what you did?
[clickToTweet tweet=”There is always a silver lining – you just need to adjust your lens.” quote=”There is always a silver lining – you just need to adjust your lens.”]
5. Practice genuine validation
The fact is that nearly everyone I know has experienced imposter syndrome at some point and showing a genuine appreciation of another person’s contribution is a very important part of overcoming the problem.
The more you reach out to people and tell them they’ve done a great job, in whatever capacity, the more joy they will feel and that’s a gift that you can give to them and which someday might be reciprocated.
The gift that you receive in return is that you will also feel great about supporting another person who could be feeling just as terrified as you have in the past or still do.
Imposter syndrome and more general worries about not being ready to put yourself out there is a major source of anxiety for huge numbers of people who start their own businesses. These feelings are perfectly normal but it’s crucial for all of us to go beyond these feelings and not to be deterred by them because it’s only by going outside of your comfort zone that you can find out what your personal potential really is.
I would love to hear your thoughts and views on the Impostor Syndrome and if you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friend and business contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.