What You Should Know About Imposter Syndrome

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It’s one thing to dream about starting and running a business. It’s another thing to actually do it. Sometimes those dreams can leave you feeling naked once they find life outside of your mind. As much as you wanted it to happen now that it’s happening you wonder if you’re the right one for the job. You feel like a complete fraud. You’re an imposter in someone else’s world.

Sound familiar? These feelings are often called Imposter Syndrome.

Let me tell you. I’ve come to realize feeling like a total deceiver is totally normal. Friends who own businesses have or do feel the same way. I’ve had many discussions with my peers about feeling like a fraud. I specifically remember the relief that came over me when one of my colleagues admitted that she often wondered when she was going to be found out. A lot of unsuspecting successful people have admitted to the same.

Tina Fey once admitted to screaming inside her own head, “I’m a fraud! They’re on to me!”

Celebrated author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

Even Dr. Margaret Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization feels inadequate sometimes ”There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”

I personally think if you’re not feeling a small amount of self-doubt you might not be human!

Do you remember the 1980’s movie BIG? Fred Savage approaches a creepy genie at a fair and wishes he was no longer small. He wants to be BIG!  The next morning he wakes up as Tom Hanks. Once an adult and now needing to support himself he enters a huge toy advertising firm looking for a job. At first he feels completely inadequate. But he soon becomes the superstar of the organization.. because he’s a kid and kids love and know toys…and because it’s a movie but you get my point.

It’s that feeling of being a kid in an adult world that I’m talking about. That feeling of “holy smokes, I’m an adult now. Are people really going to take me seriously?”

You are capable and yes, people are taking you seriously. It’s your mindset that needs changing. 

You know your stuff inside and out. You just have to let go of that feeling of being an imposter.

I felt totally uneasy when I first stepped out of the cubicle and into self-employment. Who was going to buy from me? I had no experience working for myself. I was brand new to the game and hadn’t yet broken in my uniform. Who was going to believe I was a part of the business ownership team? For years I cringed when people asked what I did for a living. I could no longer give the standard “I work for X corporation and I’m in X department”. I had no crutch to lean on. I was calling myself an entrepreneur and yet I wasn’t even convinced I was one yet. Then there were the clients. People would call me and ask about my services. I would need to calm my breathing as I mentioned my services and, deep breath, rates. Rates! Why would someone pay me money?

Yes, I had imposter syndrome big-time. But I changed things around. And you can and will, too. 

I look at myself now and smile at the old me. I pushed on through the nervousness and the feelings of doubt. My clients are happy and I’m confident in my abilities, and my education and experience that backs up my good name (funny how we easily forget our own accomplishments, huh?) Feeling like you’re a fraud can cause you to stop what you’re building and retreat back to what makes you feel “comfortable”. Don’t fall for it. Comfortable won’t give you the wings to fly.

Like a lot of things about starting a business (I’m sorry, but there will be more challenges), you have to push through this. Feeling this way is a common obstacle that can be overcome. And I’m going to provide you with helpful tips and insights over the next few posts that will help you do just that.

In the mean time, I’d love to know, is there any particular moment or thought or person that triggered you to feel like a fraud? Share below!

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