When you look out into the world, you’ll notice many people working to create their own businesses or pursuing their passions. Be it starting a fruit stand, writing a new book, starting a health practice, or opening a restaurant. They’ve started their business and they’ve either succeeded or failed. Or there’s someone out there who hasn’t quite started following their passion but it’s still something they think about. All these people have something in common and it’s not as obvious as you might think. In essence they are entrepreneurs but really, what they have in common is that most, if not all, have struggled with imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is becoming a well-known topic among entrepreneurs and working professionals. Imposter syndrome is the nagging feeling of insecurity and self-doubt even when you have already proven your skills and competence. It is the little voice in your head that tells you that you can’t perform your job as well as someone else in your department. It’s the devil on your shoulder whispering all the negative things about your achievements and that it was all based on luck. Fraud, phony, imitator, fake… it can go on and on making it difficult to shut the voice out.
The good news is you are not alone! Florists, writers, artists, dentists, and personal trainers can all suffer from imposter syndrome just because they feel they might lack the skills or experience required in their careers. A person is still a person and it’s acceptable to feel a bit of doubt or insecurity.
But If They’re Already Successful, Imposter Syndrome Doesn’t Apply to Them, Right?
Wrong. Imposter Syndrome can affect an individual regardless of their level of success or experience. The only people who never suffer from imposter syndrome are the ones who are truly imposters.
While on the podcast Fresh Air in 2016, Tom Hanks said, “No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?”
Hanks had been acting for over 35 years at that point. He did not start with a formal education in drama, but he still acted in nearly 50 movies such as Big (1987), Forrest Gump (1994), Toy Story (1995), The Green Mile (1999), and Cast Away (2000). It’s hard to believe that someone who has won 7 awards alone for ‘Best Actor’ would believe he might be found out as a fraud when it’s so obvious that he’s not.
Who Else Suffers From Imposter Syndrome?
Among actors and writers, there are people who have dreams about starting their own mobile books stores, ice cream shops, and craft stores. Before the age of the internet, it would take a lot for these individuals to gain recognition for their business and to gain encouragement. Thanks to one special individual, she’s doing what she can to bring together a community of support for those who want to follow their passion and quit their 9-5 job.
Cathy Heller from the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast talks about imposter syndrome in nearly every episode she’s created. She interviews people who have started their business and the steps they’ve taken to make it legit. Those individuals still had those moments of doubt and low self-esteem, but they persevered. They offer advice to others who are beginning their journey and inspire the rest to take action. Heller takes questions and receives messages from Facebook and Instagram from people who are on their way to quitting their day job thanks to the inspiring talks she’s shared with her listeners.
How Can You Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
There are many of you who might believe that your circumstances are what’s keeping you from achieving a better life. Others might believe that high levels of success only come to those who get lucky or have a better education. Sure, a higher level of education may open more opportunities for them in the beginning but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from listening to others about their successes, failures, and their day to day struggles:
Don’t Compare Yourself
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” – Jon Acuff
No one person starts their journey from the same place as the person standing next to them in the grocery store or the person sitting across from them in the coffee shop. Everybody’s pursuit for a new career or a lifelong passion has different battles that they must face because it is meant for them and only them. Comparing your path to another’s will cause you to feel inadequate and it will undermine your own abilities. Don’t do that to yourself.
Change Your Mindset
“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not” – Denis Waitley
Carol Dweck, a psychologist and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, states that “…[Those] who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset).”
A fixed mindset means you believe you have limitations and you shouldn’t exceed past those because you don’t have the capacity for it. A growth mindset means you believe those limitations will only last from the moment you wake up because you will learn more as the day goes on. It’s about the idea that if you accept you are continually progressing as an individual then you will break down the barriers that once kept you from achieving your goals. Remember that you are still growing, and it takes time to cultivate that growth.
Write A List of Your Accomplishments
“There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something” – Henry Ford
It doesn’t matter how small you think your accomplishments are. Your accomplishments have value and they are something that you have learned on your own time. Each place you have worked in, where you’ve gone to school, and how you’ve helped friends and family are all accomplishments. You have learned skills, morals, and values from those experiences, and they count! You will be surprised at how quickly it all adds up when you give meaning to the life you’ve lived so far.
Persevere and Keep Going
“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed” – Mia Hamm
Sometimes the goals you set for yourself take longer to carry out than you thought it might. Maybe it was a little more outside your comfort zone than you had anticipated, or you aren’t receiving any responses to queries for job opportunities. This is normal and it happens more often than it’s said. Never forget to celebrate your achievements as you’re moving forward. Each step you take is closer to where you want to be and a step farther away from where you were.
Today, there are numerous individuals who suffer from imposter syndrome. For most, it doesn’t even matter if they’re successful or experienced. They’re still the same as you and me. Human beings who want to do or be a part of something more in their lifetime. So, what’s keeping you from pursuing that dream or completing a goal? Ignore the little devil on your shoulder and take the next step. It might be scary, but you are not alone.