If you have your own business and you’ve never suffered from Imposter Syndrome, then you’re very lucky.
Imposter Syndrome can literally be crippling to some people – to the point where they give up on their business and their dreams! That’s probably an extreme example but I’ll tell you this – every day I hear someone say they don’t feel they’re good enough, what if a client catches them out as a fraud, what if their clients don’t think they’re good enough, who are they to have a business anyway?
What’s going on?
Well I know exactly what’s going on – because I’ve had Imposter Syndrome. It’s not very nice but there is a way to slay it for good.
Let’s look at Imposter Syndrome for what it really is:
Quite simply, it’s fear.
Fear of believing in your own self worth
Fear of putting yourself out there
Fear of others and their judgements
Fear of failure
Fear of success
But for those who have been brave enough to consider starting their own business in the first instance, why should these fears then crop up?
Fear crops up when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. You know that feeling you get inside? It could be anything from butterflies to shear dread. And then, our helpful brain will start to help us out by telling us that we shouldn’t ‘do the thing’, we should stay safe. If we ‘do the thing’, our brain will tell us about all the bad things that could happen! Sadly, it doesn’t tell us about the good – purely because of the programming to keep us safe - in our box!
If we’ve been brave enough to start our own business then I will make an assumption that we have some credentials, experience and knowledge of the field we’re now working in. Often, levels of knowledge and experience tend to be quite high for us to be able to convince ourselves that we’re ‘worthy’ of having our own business. So, it’s likely that we’re not a fraud – we’re not trying to con our clients into working with us. In fact, when you look at this really logically, it’s laughable.
In addition, we find we want to improve our skills and knowledge, so we’ll seek out further development opportunities and do all we can to be really great at what we do.
Imposter Syndrome and me!
When I first ventured into self-employment, I did so after being a full-time mum for a number of years. My employment prior to maternity leave had ended with redundancy, due to company closure. I found myself battling real confidence issues (that I didn’t recognise at the time, but fully recognise now). I had completely lost confidence in myself and everything I had to offer. In addition, I wanted to start an online business and had no idea about how to go about it. Cue Imposter Syndrome!
I climbed the mountain; I conquered my fears – very much with the help of others (mentors and online groups of likeminded business owners). And then, once I was in a fairly stable place with my new business, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. It didn’t play to my strengths and it wasn’t in line with me and what I’d studied and worked my whole working life to achieve. So, I embraced the change but ended up with Imposter Syndrome again! Could I do it? Who was I to be a business coach and adviser – erm well, I’ve only been doing it since 1998 so if I can’t do it now…?
The amazing coach I was working with at the time introduced me to a fabulous exercise that I share now with my clients and I’d love to share with you. A really simple way to understand your own worth. I’ve created a short workbook for the exercise which you can download here.
All you have to do is think of 12 things that remind you how great you are at doing the job you choose to do. So, it could be:
· feedback you’ve received from a client or a previous boss
· a time when you helped someone out
· a time when you figured something out that was new
· a commendation or award
· the length of time you’ve spent developing yourself to be awesome in your field
There are loads of examples – just think of 12. (Don’t stop before 12)
Then tomorrow, think of 12 again – some can be the same examples, but try to think of new ones too.
Then the next day, think again.
Keep thinking daily until you can shout from the roof tops that you’re amazing at the work you do – you have the evidence – you know you’re good!
The exercise is designed to re-wire your brain. You’re asking it to search for evidence, positive memories that are already stored. This distracts your brain from filling you with fear!
I did this exercise for 5 days and it’s had the most profound effect on me. I’m human, so I do have days when I’m in a mental funk and wonder what on earth I’m doing. But all I do now is think back to the time I completed this exercise and I remember my evidence. It’s all I need to do to re-affirm why I do what I do.
This isn’t to say that we don’t need to develop our skills further. We always need to keep on top of our game. But completing this exercise should help you to focus your efforts on your business and the development you wish to do.
I hope it helps! Don’t forget to download your ’12 things’ workbook. This will keep all your evidence in one place and will give you something to refer to if you need to look again in the future.
Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section on the blog.