It is very common for successful people to experience imposter syndrome and self-doubt, including the likes of Tina Fey or Sheryl Sandberg, who have publically claimed at times they felt like a fraud.
A review article in the International Journey of Behavioural Science puts the figure at an estimated 70% of people who experience the imposter syndrome phenomenon at some point in their lives.
Know that you are not alone.
So if we know that it is common, the feelings of Imposter Syndrome - know that it isn’t experiencing it that is the problem, it’s how we recognise and deal with it that has the biggest impact on our outcomes.
How true is this?
We’ve talked before about ‘stories’ and how we have them for time, money and success. Well, one of these life stories can be around our comparison of ourselves in the context of others.
A commonly held story that you could be running when feeling like an imposter is:
“Everyone is better than me. I’m not as good as people think that I am and they are going to find out I’m a fraud”
There are also certain symptoms that can be quite classic in Imposter Syndrome, and you may recognise one or a few:
Whilst imposter syndrome has symptoms it is often not recognised by the medical professional as a mental health condition, but it was accepted as a clinic concept in 1978 by Clance & Imes, so there is hope yet for how we treat this experience.
Imposter Syndrome is closely linked with perfectionism, with your "good enough" never being "good enough" to feel at one. However, Imposters can be hugely successful as they push themselves even harder to hide their insecurities, which again brings about more success.
However, also more stress, as even more success, brings about even more heightened Imposter Syndrome.
Seeing the cycle here?
And if you are ready to break your cycle we are going to start by redirecting your attention back to what makes you awesome.
Take time to sit down and write down a list of all your strengths and positive qualities. If you find any resistance to doing this task, simply put on a blank page, “Why am I awesome.....” and just like you would tenaciously go after any other goal in your business, direct that towards answering this question.
All too often, if you do find resistance to doing this task, also look at how you feel about accepting compliments. Imagine a compliment as a gift: you wouldn’t reject a birthday present would you? So why reject a compliment?
But do you, reject a compliment I mean, foul it off to the side or do you actually say “thank you” without justifying or giving away the power of the compliment?
You know – thanks BUT.
Congratulations on ........ thanks, just right place at the right time.
You look great today...... oh no this old thing.
If you are doing this, you are fouling off the compliment.
So you’ve started to connect with why you are some awesome which you deep down know that you are.
And I want you to think right now, If you had a MAGIC WAND and could capture all of the positive feedback you have ever received from friends/ family/ clients and others in your industry, what would they be.
Think back to any times when people have said nice comments when you’ve met them in person, or maybe go through your social media feed, or if you are like me you might have a smile file in my email folders which is a folder dedicated to this type of thing.
I get asked all the time how to pick yourself up when something negative happens, or what to do if you don’t get the visualisation you desired. Or when you hit a bump in the entrepreneurial road.
You get the point.
The answer is, to ask yourself a different question and it comes back to the work we are doing right here. In knowing how to manage your internal world and why you are awesome.
I’m just making sure to articulate the point, that doing the work on you and Imposter Syndrome is self mastery as well as business mastery, which impacts your bottom line.
We are building up your bank of evidence as to why you are awesome or another way to look at it is, like you are mounting a defence in court to counter your Imposter.
And now a bit of role-play.
The situation you are going to do this in will change depending on if you are completely self-employed and have your own business, or as a freelancer or if you are still employed.
So if you are self-employed, a business owner or a freelancer, you are going to think of a client or customer.
If you are still in employment and have started your business, you have the choice of client/ customer or your current boss.
And if you are still employed and can’t think of a customer, then do use your boss.
In the role play you are going to switch places with your boss/ client/ customer and from their perspective explain in great detail as to why they hired you.
This is important, because they hired or purchased your services for a reason, so you HAVE to find the reasons why.
Look the premise is pretty simple – know thy worth. And the more that you don’t just know, but connect with your worth, the easy you will find business to be.
Up until this point we’ve been talking about Imposter Syndrome almost being outside of us.
That it is something we have no choice in, that it is happening to us.
Now it’s something that as a Master Coach I’ve known for a long time, but when we are giving away our power. We are disenfranchised and almost powerless in our life.
When we change to cause, we take back control.
So with that in mind, it is time to take back control of our Imposter Syndrome for it is a part of us.
And a note that the longer you’ve been operating in this point that life is happening to you, the longer a journey and bumpier journey you will have it, as you take back control.
Imagine for me now if you would, that we are in an elevator out of Willy Wonka but this one can go back in time.
Go back to the last 5 years and image now that you’ve taken back the control, that your Imposter Syndrome is managed, what would you now do, that previously you didn’t do with Imposter Syndrome raging?
In other words, what did you not do due to Imposter Syndrome?
Have an explore, have a look around, and when you are ready, jump back in that Willy Wonka Elevator and come back to now.
You can see my whimsy side coming out when we do visualisations.
The whimsy is part of light relief as when we do this deeper level mindset work, around taking back control, you know rather than just positive vibrations etc etc, which I do as well, we are creating lifelong transformational change.
And when you do this, you are in the driving seat!!
But there is a trade-off.
Whenever we look to make a big change and Imposter Syndrome is a big change, we need to look at what pay-off or gain you might lose if you do manage your Imposter.
Don’t get me wrong, there are huge benefits of the new behaviour and managing your Imposter, but if we only focus on the sweetness and roses, we may underestimate how attached we actually are to our current behaviour.
You see every behaviour, no matter how destructive or even annoying it may seem, has a secondary purpose and or secondary gain.
An example could be especially with Imposter Syndrome if your friends, family and colleagues know about it, although they might call it a different name, they are likely to shower you with compliments about your worth and value.
Because they love you, to support you.
However, that might stop if your Imposter Syndrome is managed.
Or another example is that if you always set the bar really low for your expectations on goals, or money then it’s harder to be disappointed.
What if your Imposter is managed, does that mean you have to dream big?
We call this the fear of success.
You now need to start taking our Imposter out into the real world!
Because we need to boost that confidence. You see Imposter and Confidence and like yin and yang, they tend to come together, it is just depending on the blend and who is more dominant.
Because I know that you trust me, we are going to step things up a gear and look at when you first remembered thinking that other people were better than you?
So I’m going to take a beat there as this is a big opportunity.
An opportunity to go back to the root cause of when you can first remember thinking, that other people were better than you?
Or when you felt inadequate?
What popped in for you?
And if you need to pause or take some time on this, then do, but my advice is to go with your gut.
Don’t overthink it or let your big old brain come in and make it very noisy.
Keep listening to the question - when you can first remember thinking, that other people were better than you?
So be kind, and connect with whatever you connect with here.
Knowing that this is taking back control to go forward.
And speaking of taking back, we are off to hope into our Willy Wonka Elevator again and you are going to go back in time to the younger version of you that you just connected with.
What did you feel about that person that is you?
What can you see, hear and feel?
And what would you like to say to this younger version of you that would remove the root cause of feeling like you aren’t good enough?
In other words, what gift of advice could you give to the younger you?
For this is the section that is a powerful place to start, to pause and look for the answers within.
And when I did this for the first time, tears, snot rockets, panda eyes and so much clarity on the other side.
So if you feel that Imposter Syndrome, is still dominant in your decision making and how you show up in the world, why not listen to this episode again.
When you are ready to explore your legacy, success and impact on the world, here are ways to start the journey:
If you are looking to create a hugely impactful legacy, my one-to-one success coaching will change everything.