I’m a fraud. I don’t deserve success. People are going to figure me out soon enough. Is that what’s going on in your mind lately? If so, then you may be going through what is known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’. It’s not a disease or a disorder. But, it’s something that many (even celebrities) face on a daily basis. So, if this makes you feel a little better, you’re not alone.
Like you, many people seek to overcome imposter syndrome. To do that, they take their hopes to the internet, and as I’m one of those people… I thought, why not make a blog post out of it that explains how I overcome imposter syndrome and how you can do too, right? So, here’s my take on this:
If you feel like a fraudster, fake it until you make it.
Usually I wouldn’t condone doing this behaviour, but in this instance I’ll allow it. Why? Because your brain is being unreasonable. Despite everything you’ve done to get to this point, your brain is telling you that you don’t deserve to be here, that you don’t deserve that next opportunity. realise that this is purely a mindset issue, and that you may even have to pretend that you’re more important than you are – just to get over this mental block.
Richard Branson, billionaire-owner of the Virgin franchise, once said… “If you don’t know how to do something, say yes and learn how to do it later”. But, if that didn’t satisfy you, I share proven tactics in this post that are useful in overcoming imposter syndrome. But before we do that, let me answer the most frequently asked question:
Do you really have the imposter syndrome?
More often than not, we often mistake the feeling of imposter syndrome with failures and challenges. While the feeling seems familiar when you face a brick wall or fail miserably in something you wanted to excel at… that’s not what imposter syndrome really means.
In fact, failures and challenges are life lessons that set the foundation of you achieving something great. And that’s where this heart-crushing syndrome sneaks into your thoughts. If you’re really a victim of imposter syndrome, you’ll feel like you’re unworthy of your accomplishments, even though you’ve accomplished things that nobody else could do.
That’s what it means to feel like a fraud. When you’re someone who’s had success… you feel like you don’t deserve it. You feel like you’re not worthy and you’ve stolen someone else’s spot.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you’re an actor. You’re auditioning for the next Batman epic, and you land the role as the Joker. This is the moment when the nerves kick in, suddenly you feel like you’ve “cheated” your way into Hollywood, you now have doubts about your skills as an actor, I mean… can you really pull off a maniacal clown? How could you possibly follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholsen & Heath Ledger?
Your brain envisions the sad, disappointed face of George Clooney, as even he feels let down by the acting in your caped crusader movie. But, what your brain doesn’t tell you… is that you’ve graduated at one of the most respected acting schools in the world, it doesn’t tell you that you’ve starred in many blockbuster movies & it certainly doesn’t tell you that you’ve had more Oscar nominations than Meryl Streep.
You see, this is imposter syndrome. Despite your accolades and previous successes, you never feel “good enough” when it comes to making that next step, and as I say – it’s a feeling that most of us share. Fortunately for you, I’ve nailed down 3 ways that will help you overcome it in no time. Let’s discuss how…
3 ways to beat imposter syndrome at its own game
I’m not kidding. By the time you read this, you’ll be able to conquer your worst fear of “getting caught red-handed as a fraud”, feel at ease and content with yourself.
Let’s get started with the first and foremost:
Fake it until you make it.
When I first started my online marketing business I had no connections or hands-on experience. Despite being new to the industry, I was confident that I could help businesses bring in more online sales, so I reached out to them via the cold approach.
After a couple of warm up calls, I found that the conversations would all end at the same sticking-point… “Send me some previous work and i’ll check it out”. Gulp. This is where I was caught frozen, of course I had no previous work. The imposter syndrome kicked in immediately.
Despite the fact that I knew exactly how to help these businesses, I felt like a fraud purely because I had no testimonials, no reviews & no case studies. My brain was calling me a “scam artist” and a “fraud”. I was between a rock and a hard place, I needed experience to get the work but I needed the work to get the experience.
Struggling financially I realised that something had to change, I decided I had to ‘fake it to make it’, at least for now. Now, when faced with the question of sending some previous work across I would reply with something along the lines of… “Unfortunately my client’s work is confidential, however I can assure you that 90% percent of my job is research, what has worked for my previous clients may not work for you.”
And guess what? I started to get positive responses. I began to sign on new clients and you know what, we had great success too.
So although I’m not the biggest fan of ‘fake it till you make it’, it certainly helped me overcome that early case of imposter syndrome, without it I’m not sure what i’d be doing right now. Since then I’ve continued to develop my marketing skills with the experience I’ve gained, and built great relationships with my clients. And you can do the same. I mean, you’ve got to pay the bills and start from somewhere.
Are you a fan of rock band Paramore? If so, then you may be interested to see lead singer, Hayley Williams’ take on her experiences with Imposter Syndrome. Check out the video here.
Stay true to yourself.
Now I know this sounds hypocritical following that last point, but stay with me… You feel like an imposter. So, what if you are? Does that change the fact that you’re nailing the things you’re doing in your life? It doesn’t, right?
Instead of letting your emotions overpower you, confront them with logic. Realise that you’re not the only one who thinks like this. You’ll soon figure out that even the greatest people in the world, have felt like an imposter. And they still do. On a daily basis.
But that never stopped them from becoming an iconic figures in their respective fields. Some of the world’s greatest ‘imposters’ include…
- Albert Einstein
- Tom Hanks
- Meryl Streep
- Lady Gaga
- Serena Williams
With a little help from Google, you’ll soon find out that they’re human just like you. They have problems just like you, and they also feel like a fraud just like you. Once you realise that these people share common traits, like perfectionism, then you’ll soon be able to come to terms with these thoughts yourself, and you’ll change your perspective on imposter syndrome.
It can also help to take 10 minutes, a morning or even a day to write down all of the things you’ve succeeded at in life so far. It’s not so much a way of tooting your own horn, but moreso a way of reminding yourself that you deserve to be here – which you do!
Check out this post on the 50 Best Entrepreneurs To Follow On Social Media, which includes down-to-earth people, sharing great advice on business & mental health.
Let’s head over to the final method…
Learn to tame the beast.
We all know that our mind is the greatest asset that separates us from all other animals. Despite being fragile, we have outsmarted every species on Earth, thanks to our brains. But this asset can also be the biggest liability that you have to overcome. If you don’t take care of your mental health, you are going to turn yourself into a crazed-zombie, controlled only by your emotions and the nightmare-ish imposter syndrome.
In other words, you can become your own worst enemy. To make sure that doesn’t happen… I highly recommend you start using zombie-repellent, aka Meditation.
Meditation is not a thing of the past anymore. It’s been widely proven that meditation can be crucial to inner peace and taming your thoughts. Such thoughts often lead to overthinking, which goes hand in hand with the imposter syndrome. The more you think about how others will react to your actions… the more you’ll alienate yourself from reality.
So, once you learn to control your thoughts and tame your mind… it will all become easier to take on new challenges & reap the rewards.
Imposter syndrome is a mental-blockade between you and the next step in your life. It’s the thought of feeling unworthy of what greets you on the other side of that obstacle, whether it be a promotion at work, receiving an award or doing a live-speaking gig.
You can seek comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one suffering with imposter syndrome, some of the most successful people in history have felt like a fraud at times. The best step is to face the challenge head on, live by the “whatever happens, happens” rule.
What’s been your experience with Imposter Syndrome? Let me know in the comments below