Have you ever had that feeling that you're a fraud?

According to some estimates, up to 70% of successful people have experienced a psychological phenomenon that has them feeling like they don’t deserve their accomplishments. 

A phenomenon know as Impostor Syndrome.

Unlike other forms of anxiety, Impostor Syndrome's insidious nature means that while you appear confident and successful on the outside, inside you're plagued by a dark, nagging feeling that any moment somebody will expose you as a fraud.

@@Up to 70% of successful people have experienced some form of Impostor Syndrome@@

And it doesn't matter how successful you are... 

Kate Winslet, Albert Einstein and Meryl Streep have all reported suffering from the effects of  Impostor Syndrome. 

‘Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.’
— Kate Winslet

So why am I talking about Impostor Syndrome on a blog for entrepreneurs?

Because entrepreneurs are amongst the largest groups to wrestle with feelings of self-worth, achievement and self-esteem. Often feeling that our success is because we were in the right place at the right time. Or, that luck played a significant role in getting us to where we are today –– convincing ourselves that we don’t deserve the success we have achieved.  

The reason for this is that many of us aren't able to internalise our success; convinced that we don't deserve what we have achieved.

But the truth is: You did do something to get where you are.

You said yes when you could have said no (or, no when you could have said yes). You took the risk and believed in yourself. You've built a successful business.

The good news is that you can overcome IS...

Most of us will feel like impostors at one or other time –– except people peddling snake oil or politics, apparently real frauds rarely experience Impostor Syndrome.

So, for those of us trying to make the world a better place, or merely selling something we believe in... and before you crawl into a hole...

  Even bus drivers feel like crawling into a hole occasionally, Istanbul. 

There are ways of dealing with impostor syndrome...

The first rule of impostor syndrome is, talk about impostor syndrome. 

One of the best things you can do is name impostorism. Call it out. Impostorism is to blame! 

If you're part of a CEO group or leader-board, then raise the topic in your group and share your experiences. Raise it with your coach or mentor. Recognising and talking about Impostor Syndrome is the first step toward...

Dealing with Impostor Syndrome:

  1. Recognise Impostor Syndrome - if you answer yes to more than two of these questions, you've probably encountered impostorism at some point.
    • Do you ever feel like you don't deserve your achievement?
    • After success, have you dismissed it as luck or timing?
    • Do you ever feel that you've 'tricked' others into thinking you are more successful than you are?
    • Do you think that others overvalue your success?
    • Do you ever worry that people will find out that you are secretly not worthy?
       
  2. Understand that it is NOT a personality trait. It is a reaction to certain situations.
     
  3. Name IT. When you have thoughts like 'I don't deserve this' or 'It was just luck'. Tell yourself: impostorism is to blame.
     
  4. Keep reminders of your success. Collect emails, letters, etc. Look back on them when you find impostorism taking hold, and remind yourself how you got to where you are.

Impostorism is often a symptom of high-growth environments. A side effect entrepreneurs, and others, experience through achieving external success (relatively) quickly. Don't allow it to debilitate you.

Recognise it. Call it out. Talk about it.  

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I help entrepreneurs and leadership teams build strong, healthy companies. Part of that process is coaching owners through phenomenon like imposter syndrome.  If IS is holding you back from fulfilling your purpose, let's talk.