What exactly is imposter syndrome? Have you ever heard of this term before?
Wikipedia defines impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or impostorism, as a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud
Honestly, I had never heard of this idea of imposter syndrome, until I did. Thanks, Social Media.
My sister and I started our own business a few years back. It was just a side hobby really and it never really went far. I look back now, and I think the whole imposter syndrome struck me down. I can’t speak for my sister but for me I think it played a huge role.
Our business was all around eco products. We were so excited when we came up with the idea one day. And soon the idea grew into a real life actual little business.
We had such grand plans.
It didn’t take long before we started noticing other people who also had eco businesses. Then the little voice began to creep in.
Do I really know enough? What if I don’t know what I am doing? What if everyone else works out I don’t know what I am doing? They really have it together and they know their stuff.
I could really go on, but you get the general idea, right?
It didn’t take long for those thoughts to eat away. Then the passion for the business fell away because what if I was wrong? What if I was an imposter?
Looking back over the last couple of years, and if I am being truly honest with myself, I have done this multiple times over.
I gave up the director role this year and really there were so many days I felt like I didn’t belong in that role. Everyone was looking to me for mentoring, and I was looking over my shoulder trying to find someone else better suited to fill that role for them. Because I honestly believed it sure as hell couldn’t be me.
Moving forward though – here are some of the things I wish I knew then and what I will be focussing on now and into the future.
Celebrate my Successes
I often disregard my accomplishments. When others praised what I was doing, I felt awkward. However, if someone congratulates you, wait a moment before continuing. Keep an eye on your reactions and try to talk more highly of yourself.
You could save or print it, even if it was just a brief email comment. When you are considering where you are in life, taking a look back at your successes will help you understand how other people see you.
Let go of perfectionism
When I go back to our small business, the pursuit of what I saw to be perfection was what broke us down. But now I realise that we were evaluating ourselves against large companies with substantial marketing budgets. Now, I’m not saying you should set a lower bar, but modifying your expectations of success will help you see and value your successes more. concentrating on improvement rather than pursuing perfection.
I guess it’s like the saying from Ron Kaufman – Tend your own garden: Savour the blossoms, trim the weeds.
Look at your journey like a garden. Everything takes time to grow, and while things are growing you will get weeds. It won’t be perfect but that is ok.
Realising everyone has failures at some point
If I use the business as an example again. When we started out, we only looked at what we were doing. It didn’t become an issue until we started to compare ourselves to others.
We thought that everyone must be so successful because they knew more, they were better at marketing etc.
But if we stop and think that everyone started somewhere. Understanding that everyone has failures can help paint a more realistic portrait.
You don’t know what has happened behind the scenes for someone to reach that point for which you are comparing yourself to.
Be kind to yourself
Simply put, “being kind to oneself” is using constructive self-talk to alter the way you speak to yourself in your thoughts. It can not only help you feel less stressed and anxious, but it can also give you the courage to take risks that will pay off.
It’s all about taking the pressure off yourself. Understanding that you are not going to be an expert the very first time.
When you start feeling the negative thoughts starting up in your head, challenge it.
For example, when you start to think that you got somewhere in your job because of luck. Stop and think instead what steps I have done that has untimely led me to this position.
There will always be an element of imposter syndrome/ self-doubt throughout our life. It is all a matter of grabbing onto it and being the boss of it. Not letting it control you! Well, that is what I will be trying to do from now on – wish me luck.
Until next time
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