Imposter syndrome is one of those things I believe every woman wanting to uplevel or just do something different, experiences at some point in their lives. In business and specifically in the sales sector, I see imposter syndrome holding many women back. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something I also initially found challenging in the early stages of my business.
I find as women, we often believe that feeling like an imposter in a situation must mean we’re not ready to do whatever the thing is that makes us question our capability but I don’t think that’s the case. In reality we’re all ‘imposters’ when it comes to doing things we’ve never done before or delivering at a level we’ve never delivered at previously. It’s not that we can’t do these things, it’s not that we’re frauds or unqualified or any of those things. We’ve just not done it before and naturally, it’s scary.
Imposter syndrome is the easiest defense that our fear can throw at us in an attempt to stop us taking that step into the unknown. After all, fear’s purpose is to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. What better way to do this than making us fear moving forward or making a change, through feeling like we’re not good enough to do so?
When I started my first business at 19. My imposter voice was so loud it was insane, “Who are you to do this?” “You know you’re not good enough right?”. I had those same voices on repeat when I decided to up-level, when I opened my second business, when I started my coaching business, you name it. At every level those voices come out to play and yet I still do what I want to do. I still achieve what I set out to in spite of those voices.
How am I able to do that?
Here are four things I do when I’m struck by imposter syndrome;
1. Understand what it’s really about
Contrary to what we might think, imposter syndrome is very rarely just about the particular situation that triggers it. Some of the women I’ve worked with will feel it when it comes to selling, perhaps after increasing their fees for example. In actual fact, it’s not really about feeling like an imposter. Imposter syndrome is triggered because they’re afraid of being rejected or deep down worried about what making the and the money that will come from it will mean about them as a person.
Bizarrely, some people who are suffering with imposter syndrome are actually really afraid of success, despite the fact they want it. It’s terrifying for them because it would mean hitting a new level of life that they’ve never experienced before, they may even have negative beliefs attached to reaching that next level.
If you find yourself feeling this way, I’d advise digging deeper and asking yourself questions around whether you really feel like an impostor or it more about what the achievement or outcome will mean for your or your life.
2. Who are you NOT to do this?
The question, “Who am I to do this?” can be one of the most common when suffering with imposter syndrome, the idea that you with all your flaws should even consider doing this. I like to flip this question on it’s head and instead ask “Who am I not to do X?”
Who are you not to even try?
Who are you to tell the world you’re not good enough without the world getting the chance to decide this for themselves?
Of course, the idea of being judged by people you know or complete strangers if you get something wrong is an uncomfortable one but if you don’t try no one will even know you were in the running to start with. If you don’t take action, someone else will and there’s no guarantee they’ll do a better job than you.
Instead of sitting with the imposter question, try flipping it around and looking at it from the other perspective vs the side that’s keeping you stuck.
3. Stop making it about you
This might sound a little silly given you’re the one suffering with imposter syndrome, so of course it IS about you, right? Well, yes but that’s also one of the reasons why we get so hung up We make it about ourselves when in fact it isn’t.
The things we talk ourselves out of or hold ourselves back from as a result of imposter syndrome are really things that deny someone else an opportunity. In selling, it denies the other person the opportunity to buy or experience something they need and actually want. When it comes to your success, it could be that you’re denying your family the opportunity to have a better life for example.
The answer? Don’t make it about you, flip it and make it about who you’re doing this for or who misses out if you don’t even try.
4. Take a deep breath and do it anyway
What’s the absolute worst that’s going to happen if you do the thing that makes you feel like an imposter? Honestly, it’s almost never going to be anything as bad as you’d ever imagine. We may have convinced ourselves that these horrific things will happen if we try.
The worst that would happen if you ask for the sale or anything else is that the other person says no. You might be a little disappointed initially but you’ll move on with your day and life. If you try something and it doesn’t work what’s the worst that could happen? Will it feel a little rubbish? Possible for a little but the world won’t have ended.
So take a deep breath and jump!
Imposter syndrome will always rear its ugly head at points in your journey. As I said before, it’s a natural response to protect you. Rather than suffering physical danger the worst that is likely to happen is a bruised ego.
The key is to change your relationship with fear so it doesn’t hold you back and instead you can manage the imposter voice and still achieve your wildest dreams.