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  • San Chima

How to overcome Imposter Syndrome

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

In some of my recent coaching sessions, my coachees have mentioned a feeling that they are not good enough. That one day someone will find out that they are not as competent as they think. This phenomenon is often called Imposter Syndrome. For any entrepreneur, the impostor phenomenon presents a challenging roadblock between us and our goals. Presenting and selling value, either through a product or service, becomes a lot harder when we fail to see the value in ourselves. Simply put, when we devalue ourselves, this often spills over into the work that we do. Of course, we don’t want this. The good news is that if you experience this, you are far from alone. Let’s outline some vital tools that are worth implementing if you want to overcome this challenging, but very solvable matter.

1. Identifying the issue and understanding why (you’re already halfway there)

If you have already identified this as a limiting factor, you are on your way to finding the tools to overcome it. By nature, many will choose to suffer in silence because they are afraid of being ‘found out’. They’re afraid of a fictional moment they have constructed in their minds of being theatrically unmasked to the shock horror of their peers and colleagues. The important thing to understand here is that this feeling is just as common amongst our peers and co-workers. Often, the peers and co-workers we may hold in higher esteem than ourselves go through the very same feelings of fraudulence or inadequacy. But how can this be? Well- this is because we can’t see the inadequacies or self-doubt in others as clearly as we may be able to see them in ourselves. For those grappling with imposter syndrome, a reframe is needed.

2. Rewrite the Rules! We must rewrite the rules we have made for ourselves about what an imposter is, and how you may have come to decide you are one. Let’s have a look at the mindset ‘I'm such an imposter that I've got smarter and more savvy co-workers to think I know more than I know.’ This is a mindset brimming with its own self-confidence, just applied in the wrong way. Let’s start by reframing this confidence into ‘peers or previous co-workers I trust often make positive assessments of me, I must be more competent than I realize’. When we begin to positively reframe in this way, we can begin to build a healthier self-perception.

3. Triggering healthy responses to mistakes As entrepreneurs, we must respond constructively to setbacks. Consider the words ‘Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently’. To do this we can’t become too wrapped up in mistakes, any further than identifying them as an opportunity to do better. This becomes a lot harder when we over emphasise our mistakes and punish ourselves too much. Those grappling with inadequacy or perceived fraudulence can do a lot simply by utilizing more constructive self-assessment strategies.

4. Remembering what we do well Self-diagnosed imposters often have trouble outlining their strengths in a way that is realistic. The Imposter phenomenon often involves overstating our weaknesses whilst denying our strengths. What we should do here is see if we can compose a list. This doesn’t have to be too exhaustive, but it should be written down. In this way, we can put an objective distance between us and our attributes, in a way that does not overstate or under emphasise.

5. Focusing on gradual changes

Imposter syndrome, like any superstitious mentality, will take time to change. It is important to remember that if we have developed this mentality, it means we have spent time living in a constructed reality concerning our attitude to ourselves and our work. Let’s treat positive framing as a muscle that we can train. In this way, as the muscle becomes stronger our response to imposter syndrome triggers will become stronger over time.

6. Giving ourselves proof

The best way to counter our own feelings of fraudulence or self-doubt is to give ourselves proof. Necessary proof of what we can do. We become far more confident in rewriting the rules in a more positive framing when we prove that the old, self-defeating ones weren’t accurate to begin with. we can start to do this by keeping record of when we did well in that interview; or secured a new client through a great client meeting. When we keep written record, we begin to make a stronger case for ourselves.

7. Seeking Coaches to help us progress

An external, objective figure is always a great source for feedback, especially when dealing with self-assessment related challenges. Constructive, unbiased feedback from a coach can be invaluable for helping us track our progress towards our goals, and to exceed them. Want help identifying goals, and tracking progress? Get in touch by calling +44 7973 220464 or by emailing to discuss how I can help.

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