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Executive Voice

Imposter Syndrome Is Not Good For Business

person in black hoodie wearing white mask

“I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.”

That pesky inner voice pipes up again … undermining you, stealing your confidence and drive.

Do you live in fear someone will find out you are not as good as your marketing says you are?

Do you watch your competitors feeling inadequate and hopelessly out of your depth and tell yourself you are not good enough. How about knowing that at any second someone is going to catch you out?

Imposter Syndrome

Chances are you are suffering from imposter syndrome. You live in fear of being exposed as a fraud. You know in your heart of hearts everyone else could run your business better than you.  All you can see is everything you are doing is wrong or a sham; bogged down by the nagging feeling you will be found out … unless you are a narcissist and you know you’re just amazing.

Imposter syndrome was a term coined in the late 70s by psychologists who found high achieving people struggled to embrace their accomplishments. It leads to feelings of “phoniness in people who believe they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”

You Are Not Alone

Two of five successful people, especially those in small business, face this internal battle on a daily basis.  It stops us taking advantage of opportunities and fosters the Olympic sport of procrastination. Kate Winslet suffers from it. Maya Angelou did too. So does Seth Godin.

What?

These people are/were at the top of their game. Trailblazers in their industries and highly successful.  If you set the bar high for yourself, chances are you know exactly how these people feel. It is important to strive and achieve, but do not hold yourself to ransom for not being good enough.

People who suffer from imposter syndrome are high achievers, committed to excellence and shining brightly. Their victory is they do not let this syndrome hold them back.

Over the years, I have been held hostage by my own thoughts of inadequacy.  When I started my business, there were already a few people in that space.  They were doing incredible things in their business – kicking massive goals. I would compare myself to them; and would always come up lacking. My career was nowhere near as impressive as theirs, I did not have the big media wins they did or know as much as I thought I did. I had not scaled to the heady heights they had, and was not as good as them. EVER.

It took me a couple of years before I shed those beliefs. Occasionally I still succumb to imposter syndrome, but I can now shake it off quickly. Here’s how …

Stop Following Competitors

In the beginning, I would follow my competitors on Facebook, looking at their posts every day.  They were doing so much better than me. I would leave their page feeling hopeless. One day I realised it was not serving me well. I unfollowed their pages and became content with what I was doing – it was the best I could do, and I was getting great results for my clients. Comparison can be a real killer of self-belief and action. Stop It!

No One Is Perfect

Stephen Hawking once said the universe does not allow perfection “without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” Why do we expect ourselves to be perfect of the universe isn’t? Expecting perfection sets us up for a fall by expecting everything to be spot on. Making mistakes triggers self loathing and shame, even though some things are out of our control. Instead of perfection, how about aiming for excellence, doing your best, accepting responsibility for mistakes, learn from those mistakes and find ways to be more vulnerable.

Celebrate Success

Big or small, every little win is worthy of celebration. It puts into perspective just how well you are doing. Also acknowledge your success is not just luck – it comes from hard work, focus and dedication. Do not diminish your successes – it not ‘just’ a good job, or ‘only’ a silly award – it is so much more than that.

It Is Okay

Face it, you are human, and making mistakes and not being on all the time is okay. Even though everyone else looks like they are doing better than you, know they are not. Because they are human, they are facing similar challenges to you. Focus on your path and your journey.

Award-winning PR specialist and The Audacious Agency co-founder Annette Densham loves all things business storytelling, award submission writing, and assisting business leaders establish themselves as authorities in their field. Annette audaciously challenges anyone in small business to cast aside modesty, embrace their genius and share their stories.

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