What is Imposter Syndrome?
Short answer: a form of anxiety.
Longer answer: think of it as your voice of self-doubt (as opposed to reason). It’s the voice that makes you feel like everyone around you is better or more skilled than you, like you’re someone who just pretends to know your stuff.
How do you know if you’ve got Imposter Syndrome?
First, let’s go deeper on what this feeling, well, feels like.
Do you feel like you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and find yourself questioning your own credibility? And when you look at other brands or businesses that you align yourself with, do you start second-guessing whether your Instagram post was relevant or if your product is actually useful? That’s Imposter Syndrome.
The living, breathing lie that you’re not as capable as you say you are or as good as someone had described you to be.
Spoiler alert: Even though these fears are real, they are not true.
Good news is, you’re not alone in this! In fact, highly successful entrepreneurs, business owners and creatives alike share those same thoughts and feelings of not being good enough or not having it as together as they think they should.
How can you overcome feeling like an imposter?
Pinpoint what makes you stand out
Take a piece of paper and write it down:
Noteworthy achievements are the first thing you’ll want to think about: Awards, publicity, degrees, experience, etc. (don’t fret if you don’t have much here).
But then, let’s think deeper: What makes you, you? Surely your friends don’t love you because you’ve won an award. So why do they like you for you? Everybody has their own special something. And yes, this is true.
It’s your unique mixture of instinct, knowledge, and drive that allows you to live your creativity.
It could be the passion you put into your products, your genuine friendliness that makes your customer service superb, or your knack for understanding colours and design.
When you can identify what you bring to the table, you’ll stop second guessing about being an imposter and start believing in yourself.
If you’re really having trouble with this, think about the words your friends would associate you with (or ask them!)
Understand who you’re really talking to
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome requires you to know who you are as a brand. This goes hand-in-hand with knowing who you’re trying to speak to. In other words, if you find yourself struggling to pinpoint exactly who your audience is, that’s a sure way to walk right into the dreaded dark hole of Imposter Syndrome. Over and over. The beauty in knowing who your customer is lies in the self-assurance that comes from recognising the value in what you offer and how it can solve their problem.
Be clear on the purpose of what you do
Humans are incredible for the reason that we are able to see the bigger picture in the things we work towards. But like all good things, it comes with a price. That is, without direction, we’re lost. And this applies to business as it does to life.
It’s likely that there’s a lot of businesses who are offering the same or similar products to you. But what really separates you from the rest is your Why (it’s personal). Unfortunately, when we’re absorbed in nitty gritty tasks and groundwork, we can sometimes lose sight of what the bigger picture looks like.
Understanding and documenting the Why of what you do is imperative to giving yourself direction. It serves as a reminder to help reiterate why you’re doing all this in the first place, setting you apart from everyone else.
Be your true self
We know, we’ve joined the ‘authenticity club’ and we’re aware that the word has been overused of late. However, all we’re saying is that we all know humans can be very perfectionistic, especially when it comes to our (brand) image.
Whether we’re talking about business or personal branding, authenticity is key to it all. It gives reason for someone to resonate with who you are. If you’re truly being you, your wins and struggles will naturally be something people can (and want to) connect with.
Try to accept that your brand doesn’t have to be absolutely flawless and everything else will take form naturally. It’s impossible to feel like an imposter if you’re just out here doing what you love, right?
Tell your story (even the mistakes!)
What’s a good story without the downs? Imagine if Aladdin and Jasmine just fell in love and got married. Or the three little pigs just went off and built their homes. The end. Happily ever after.
Nothing moves anyone more than someone who is brave, courageous and vulnerable. So don’t be afraid to admit your struggles and mistakes – because after all, you’re human.
As a business owner, it can be hard to embrace flaws or mistakes that happen along the way. But that’s what makes your story so real and relatable. It’s the sugar and spice that adds to your brand story, and builds relationships that convert strangers into loyal customers – sweat, tears and all! That’s not to say, however, that you have to go ahead and talk about everything that’s on your mind. Share what you’re comfortable with and feel free to start small. Baby steps are better than no steps at all.
Quit comparing yourself to other people. Remember that if the grass looks greener on the other side, you can bet the water bill is higher, too. Everyone has their struggles and no one truly knows what they’re doing.
Some final food for thought
At one point in time or another, we are all guilty of feeling like an imposter, but none of us are.
Let this serve as a reminder that we are hard workers who are committed to a business, expertise and dynamite product – what’s not to embrace? So leave perfection at the door, determine your drive and focus on what makes your brand sing.
The moment you let your confidence flourish is when your second-guessing stops.