Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome from time to time. According to the Oxford English dictionary, imposter syndrome is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” I think this colloquialism captures more, too, such as not believing in one’s ability to do something one has not yet done, or at least not successfully so. Here’s what I think about imposter syndrome in a nutshell – it holds us back, and it’s bulls*it. We don’t have to fall prey to it.
Consider this truth (that I’ve shared before on the blog, and if you’ve worked with me, you hopefully understand this at a deep level): our thoughts drive our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions. And our actions inevitably create our results. This simple mental progression comes straight out of cognitive behavioral psychology and is also highlighted by many world philosophies.
Understanding this, if you are living in or even just dabbling in imposter syndrome, you will avoid doing the hard things that will grow you as a business owner, professional of any kind, side gigger, or in any area of your life in which this syndrome appears. Your lack of belief in yourself will generate insecurity at best, which will drive ineffective actions or total avoidance, and whatever growth you are seeking, financially or otherwise, simply will not happen.
I read an amazing quote on imposter syndrome recently that really resonated with me: real imposters don’t have imposter syndrome. So if you have it, you’re likely not actually an imposter (so good, right?).
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be the GOAT or a verified expert to sidestep imposter syndrome. You can recognize that you have strengths and also weaknesses; we all do. You can work to amplify your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. All while believing that you are good enough.
If you recognize that imposter syndrome is holding you back in some way, consider these mindset hacks to kick it to the curb:
- Make a list of all the things you are good at in the relevant area (I promise you will find some).
- Review the list daily to remind yourself of your strengths.
- Identify 3-5 things you could work on to grow your skills.
- Brainstorm 1-2 ways you could do so for each area of growth (this could be either a relative strength or a relative weakness).
- Schedule these into your weekly calendar.
- Create a list of 3-5 empowering thoughts that you believe to be true about yourself in this area (even if you also have doubting thoughts, pick just the empowering ones). Examples:
- I know what I’m doing
- I offer value to my clients
- I’m good at (insert a skill or two or three here)
- Review this list daily for a month.
If you only want to do one or two of the above, numbers 6 and 7 are the primary things that will drive a shift in your self-perception. Self-perception drives reality, so don’t underestimate the power of intentional thought creation. Of all the coaching tools I know (and I know a lot), it’s my number one go-to, each and every time.