Phoney. Fraudster. Trickster. It’s only a matter of time before someone finds out you’re not all you say you are. You have only got this far through sheer luck, and it’s about to come crashing down. Someone is going to realise you have no clue what you’re doing, and soon. This is imposter syndrome, a poisonous form of self-doubt affecting some of the most successful and self-assured female entrepreneurs around the world. It can drive you forward like a maniac or hold you back. Either way, it’s not a good thing. But there are things you can do to help.
Accredited visibility and mindset coach Julie Brown understands that for entrepreneurs to have the success they crave, they need to have a visible business. The right mindset lies at the heart of this as negative thinking and lack of confidence can stop you in your tracks. Here are 5 simple strategies to help given by Julie herself.
Focus on the positives
Learning to accept and appreciate your successes in life and business and breaking the habit of focusing on your weaknesses is key to beating imposter syndrome. A simple way to do this is to write down everything you’re proud of on a daily basis and the things you’ve achieved, no matter how small. Try it for a month first, but you may want to do it more long term to keep the negative thoughts at bay. As you write that day’s list, read back over the previous weeks of achievements, acknowledging there have been plenty. Over time you will become more used to acknowledging and embracing the positives.
Let mistakes go
Focusing too much on mistakes is a sure sign that imposter syndrome has taken hold. This ruminating can go on for years for some women. Write down any genuine mistakes you have made and identify how you could have avoided them or dealt with them more positively. More importantly, think about what can you learn (and have learned) from these? Now cross them all out, let go of any more thoughts about them and move on. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s clinging on to them that does the damage. Learning and moving-on are what makes us grow as people.
It is easier to be generous to yourself when you’re looking through someone else’s eyes. A way to do this is through the magazine interview technique. Imagine you are being interviewed by your favourite magazine and view yourself through the eye of the interviewer, who wants to showcase your skills, qualities and business highlights. Write down what she would say about you. This exercise helps you focus on your strengths in order to inspire imaginary readers and gives you a legitimate device to allow you to feel positive about yourself.
Stop thinking like an imposter
Your script is that automatic tape that starts playing immediately you are in a situation that triggers feelings of being an imposter. Learn how to change what it’s saying to you. When you’re about to face something you know can be a trigger, a new client project for instance, instead of thinking, “Wait until they find out I don’t know what I’m doing,” instead try telling yourself, “I have had so many similar clients that I’ve been able to help, and all have said positive things about my work.” Simple but effective.
Be kinder to yourself
Entrepreneurs with imposter syndrome will often put immense pressure on themselves to achieve unrealistic goals. This can be because they have a misplaced desire to compete with a rival or simply from trying hard not to be ‘found out’.
If this sounds like you try this:
Define a short-term goal and draw up a targeted action plan that plays to your strengths and helps you move towards it. Break this plan down into detailed and actionable tasks that are time-specific and measurable. By crossing the tasks off one by one, you’ll make steady progress towards achieving your goal and feel more in control. A written plan will give you hard evidence of your progress and instil confidence that this isn’t being achieved by a complete fluke.