“If I put my work out there, everyone is going to find out that I am a fraud and that I don’t really know what the hell I am doing.”
Has this parasite of a thought ever crossed your mind? Yeah – it crosses the minds of even the most successful people, believe it or not! And just in case you still think that you are the only one who has this fear and that it can stop you from actually taking the plunge and building a successful empire, then I am here to tell your inner Girlboss that YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD! – You just have Impostor Syndrome, like the rest of us and I am going to show you why you should overcome it!
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Do you need to be diagnosed? No girlfriend, you do not need a diagnosis.
Impostor Syndrome is basically feeling like an impostor when you’re not, and worrying that the whole world is going to find out that you are a fraud. I guess this is a valid fear to have if you’ve stolen someone’s identity or you’re selling knock-off Chanel bags but it is a completely useless fear if you’re trying to build a business and save the world etc.
You see, fear, like all emotions, is mostly useful and necessary for our survival. In fact, our brains are wired in a way that we experience fear so that we can survive a dangerous or risky situation. Unfortunately, somewhere along the journey from our ancestors, our brains forgot to evolve this fight-or-flight pathway because the reality is that the risk of failing as an entrepreneur is not the same risk of being eaten by a lion – catch my drift?
Impostor syndrome is born from this same fear-survival complex pathway, which poses one of the biggest challenges for new entrepreneurs, especially for women entrepreneurs. Whenever we step out of our comfort zone to try something new, like starting a business, we experience impostor syndrome as a way to mitigate the risk of failing.
To make matters worse, impostor syndrome can actually make it difficult for you to succeed even if you have already started your business. One way that this pesky little bug can prevent your success is by influencing you to down play your abilities and strengths due to the fear of being called a “fraud” – even though you clearly have all the amazing abilities to slay your biz and life!
The impostor syndrome is particularly worse for women because part of the syndrome stems from a sense of humility. Unlike men, women are naturally hesitant to embrace their capabilities or the value they can add to the world. This fear will deter even the most brilliant woman to pursue a position of power, start a business, and become a girl-boss.
Because even if a skill comes naturally, the fear that we might not be as good at it as we think, leads us to discount our value. This is how quickly the idea of chasing a dream career or considering a brilliant business opportunity is put in the back-burner.
Time for some news flash, every, and I mean, every successful entrepreneur has thought of themselves as an impostor, not once, or twice but at several points during their journey. Every time they are faced with a new challenge, they probably make bold decisions and take crazy risks that end up reaping great results. But guess what, while they made that decision, they were probably asking themselves, “What have I just done? Oh my God, this is it! Now they’re definitely going to find out that I am a fraud.”
There is a silver lining though...
Contrary to most beliefs, impostor syndrome is not a mental disorder but a paralyzing fear, particularly with highly motivated achievers. Yup, you read that right… it’s a fear among HIGHLY MOTIVATED ACHIEVERS because the only people who question their skills or intelligence are people who have high self-awareness and big big goals! One way to overcome impostor syndrome, then, is to not listen to the voice in your head telling you that you are not good enough, smart or intelligent enough to pursue your dreams.
The key here is to realize is that this fear is only as powerful as you allow it to be. Remember that this is just another sneaky brain trick to keep you from taking risks and all you have to do is to look this fear in the eye and tell it to take a seat to the left! (Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” on repeat)
The best or worst (depends on how you look at it) part of the impostor syndrome is that it ails even the most successful people in the world. Sheryl Sandberg, Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Kate Winslet and a lot of other successful women have admitted to feeling like an impostor!
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
Okay girl, I don’t know about you but the fact that THE Maya Angelou felt like an impostor every time she published a new book, makes me feel like I can do literally anything, impostor syndrome or not. I mean, how could the genius behind “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” ever think she was a fraud?
I guess that’s because successful people are just as human as you and I. The only thing that differentiates them from people who are not successful is that they DO NOT let self-doubt stop them from achieving their dreams!
Take note of the fact that I said, “they do not let self-doubt stop them” not that they don’t have self-doubt. The easiest way to deal with self-doubt and turn it into confidence and motivation is to discover your PURPOSE!
Yes, I know, I am extra about purpose, but that’s only because it’s that crucial to your happiness, success and quality of life. I recently wrote about why following your passion is the worst advice ever so if you want to learn more about purpose vs passion, then click thruuu…
P.S. You can get a FREE Workbook to help you find your purpose if you read that post 🙂
Now, let’s get back to our current impostor problem: the first step to overcoming impostor syndrome is to recognize the signs that you’ve been bitten by the pesky bug…
SYMPTOMS OF IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
- Feeling like a fraud
- Unnecessarily being over-prepared
- Perfectionism, obsessiveness, and overworking
- Negative self-talk and thoughts like “I was just LUCKY!”
- Not displaying confidence because you’re worried that others will reject your abilities
- Using charm to gain approval, recognition, and praise but then you flip 180 and can’t accept praise or compliments about your work
So the next time that you feel like a fraud and you’re about to down play your awesomeness, please remember that Maya Angelou felt the same way as you at many points in her life and guess what – she still published the books. Now, you and I both know her name because she is a LEGEND!
It’s your turn to just put yourself out there and make an impact on the world… Like I always say, the world is ready for your genius – you just have to own it!
Author: Araika Mkulo
Araika Mkulo is the mother and CEO of Safe Space Co… she lives and breathes for women’s empowerment. On paper, she is a Cognitive Psychologist but in the real world, she is a Coach-Fairy-God-Sister sent from the land of equal rights with the sole purpose of helping women transform their lives.
She does this through self-discovery, mindset and business coaching. Her mission is to transform you into your own coach so that you can slay this thing called life!
Find out more about Araika’s work at www.safespacetz.com