Impostor syndrome, also known as the fraud syndrome, is a disorder that is associated with otherwise successful people or high-achievers who find it hard to accept that their achievements and successes are as a result of their hard work and ability.
As we emerge from lockdown we are finding that there are an increasing number of business people opting for self-employment.
This can, and has, led to the inevitable self-doubt about being able to carry off self employment unless you are one of the very rare group with total self-belief. The majority will not give themselves the credit that others can see in them.
This inability to accept their own capabilities is also shadowed by a strong fear of being exposed for the frauds they perceive themselves to be and as such, people who suffer from the impostor syndrome tend to work harder than everyone else in a bid to cover up their make-believe insufficiency.
Why do people suffer from the impostor syndrome?
First of all, the impostor syndrome often comes as a reaction to certain situations and stimuli. While it is not directly linked to mental insufficiencies, psychological research has described the condition as an in-born personality trait that often manifests itself in certain situations.
People suffering from impostor syndrome will attribute their successes and achievements to luck, timing, deception, and literally anything else that comes to mind so long as it does not credit their efforts as the reason for their success. In fact, when presented with this information, individuals suffering from the impostor syndrome will probably deny it.
The problem is more prominent among successful women, or at least it appears that way since most men will not open up easily about their insecurities.
However, notable male cases include award winning actor Tom Hanks and author Neil Gaiman. The latter has spoken about the condition previously. He describes it as a feeling that you are getting away with something, especially when it comes to your successes.
Seth Godin is another accomplished writer with numerous bestsellers under his name. However, he wrote in The Icarus Deception that despite his blatant success, he cannot shake off the feeling that he is somehow a fraud.
So how does you rid yourself of this crippling mentality that is quite often a symptom of self-doubt and low self-esteem?
Here are four effective ways to overcome the impostor syndrome.
1. Accept that you’re not perfect
First of all accept that you are not perfect because no-one is. Accept your imperfections because everyone has them, and this does not mean you are not good at what you do.
2. Credit your efforts as much as possible
Learning how to internalise your successes might not be the easiest thing if you happen to suffer from the impostor syndrome. However, you need to credit your efforts for getting you as far as you are right now. Take a look back at how far you have come. Not everyone would have accepted the same opportunities you were given in the same way. As such, your success is entirely based on how much hard work you put into becoming the person you are today.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
As hard as it may seem, it is pointless to compare your successes to those of others, unless you are doing a critical self-evaluation in a bid to upgrade yourself. It is easy to conclude that your level of achievement is less worthy or that your life just does not live up to that of others. Keep in mind that everyone is born with a unique set of skills and a different outlook on life. Embrace being yourself.
4. You are allowed to be wrong
Missing the mark every once in a while (or even more than once in a while) is completely allowed—it does not make you a fraud. Read about the greatest people in every field and you will find that they all share one thing in common: they have all failed at some point in their lives. Don’t let failure get to you. No one is built to be flawless.
The list of people suffering from imposter syndrome is full of high profile names from all over the world, most of whom are recognised over-achievers or extremely successful and iconic individuals.
Despite the fact that their success stems from their hard work, they often consider themselves frauds and question other people’s beliefs in their abilities. Keep this in mind every time you feel like you are just not doing enough, despite your successes.
For those setting up post lockdown new businesses please be kind to yourself. You have not just won that first piece of big business because ‘you got lucky’!
You won it because you are good at what you do, and the client recognised it, so congratulate yourself and buckle down to win the next as well!
Chris Roxburgh is a Marketing Consultant and Social Media Trainer with My Marketing Guy who can be contacted on 07742 664662 or by email at email@example.com . He is also a co-host on the Go-Fish Marketing Hints & Tips Podcast series.