Many of us know what it’s like to experience imposter syndrome; that pernicious, doubtful inner voice that tries to trip us up, preventing us from achieving what we’re capable of.
Maybe this story of will resonate with you? On day one of my new job as a CEO, I sat down at my desk, surveyed my office, and thought to myself, ‘what am I doing?’ I’ve never been a CEO. How will I know what to do? What if I can’t do this job? What if they’ve got the wrong person? The fact that my predecessor had left the office piled high with mounds of paperwork – with no explanatory notes – only added to my rising feelings of anxiety.
But then I realised this was just an internal wobble, and I needed to relax. A bit like climbing a mountain, as long as I didn’t look down, kept putting one foot in front of another and used my common sense, things would work out.
Carol Ann Rice of The Real Coaching Company helps CEOs and company directors get over imposter syndrome. She says “It’s our sense that everyone else has all the answers and expert knowledge, and somehow we are bluffing and busking our way through it. This is not a reality but a fear. You have all you need to make a success of your business, but allow yourself to learn as you go.”
Here are 5 strategies I find effective for dealing with imposter syndrome.
1. See Imposter Syndrome As A Positive
Philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” This pithy description of imposter syndrome reminds us that we have integrity and strong values, qualities that are foundational to running a successful business and building a great brand. Self-doubt reminds us of our basic humanity, keeps us humble and stops us behaving like an idiot.
2. Look For The Silver Lining
Consider the upside of having these doubts. What good will come of it? On some days my list might include: 1. Eat more cake. 2. Excuse to call my business buddy. 3. Write this article. 4. Connect with how my clients and readers are feeling. 5. Make coaching interventions that reminds my clients that they’ve earned their place in their industry.
3. Sing Your Own Song
Whilst I’m no slouch about doing my own market research and checking out what my competitors are doing with their branding and marketing, I don’t let this affect what I’m doing. Yes, there’s a lot of ‘noise’ in the market, especially online, but I know that the only way that I’ll cut through it is to keep singing my song. And to zig when everybody else is zagging. So yes, writing a business plans is essential if you’re serious about your business, and whatever the fashion in the industry, you’ll never hear me say it’s not necessary.
4. Keep Telling The Truth
The fact is we all have moments of self-doubt, and telling the truth about it is a service to others. In today’s social media, reality-TV world it’s easy to think everyone’s lives are perfectly full of glittery hustle and Instagram-worthy days. Hearing about the imperfections and vulnerability of others reminds us that we’re all struggling together. Which is not code for ‘let it all hang out’ either. Routinely sharing ‘the latest drama’ on Facebook may pull some people in. But it also makes you look flakey and seriously unprofessional. Not that I imagine, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, this applies to you! This is a drama free zone.
5. Focus On Being Of Service
Doubt is usually about us. But the fact is that comparing ourselves to others doesn’t stand up to scrutiny for the simple reason it’s rarely an accurate comparison. Which is why supporting others is a great way of shifting your energy off yourself and onto others. If you’re in the grip of imposter syndrome, spend 30 minutes being of service. Write a thank you note to a supplier or referrer. Write a testimonial or review for somebody who’s helped you. Think about how you can go the extra mile for a customer.
So next time you’re experiencing feelings of self-doubt, grab yourself a slice of cake, and try some of these strategies to break the cycle and regain control and confidence. You might have to go to the gym afterwards though!
Join The Conversation
Question: What are your strategies for dealing with imposter syndrome? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share let me know in the comments box below.
Explore These Additional Resources
Did you miss?
- The Story Of How I Started My Business – Part 1
- The Story Of How I Started My Business – Part 2
- 7 Business Lessons From My Years As A CEO
- The Origins Of My Brand Values
Work With Me
I’m Denyse Whillier, a Sussex and London based business coach and consultant. I work with responsible business leaders to build profitable and successful brands that do good, make money and help to change the world. I draw on Built To Succeed™, my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, to help my clients to achieve their goals.
I’d love to start a conversation about whether we’re a good fit to work together. Simply use this link to arrange an informal Skype coffee chat. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching (or business consultancy) would be right for you.
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