How to overcome imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is rife among the femalebusiness community. It seems to be a pre-programmed flight mode for many, including myself. 

It’sthefeelingof beinga fraud. You simply don’t believe you are qualified to be in the position you are.  

I have had manyyearsstruggling withimposter syndrome.My naturalinternalresponsewhen we gain a new clientis“can we actually do this?What makes us qualified to do this?”My immediate response should really be “great, let’s get towork.” 

There has never beena time when we’ve had to turn down a client because we weren’t able to do the work required. There has never been asituation where I’ve had to hold my hands up andsay,I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not qualified.”Even if we come across a problem, the chances are we’llbe able to solve it. 

I fully believe imposter syndrome is an historical, residual response from collectively having had doors closed in our faces throughout history  

Why do we feel a need to go in to panic modeand lose confidence in our abilitywhen weare presented with a new challenge? I can only talk from my own experience as Iknowmy biggest fearin these situations is that I will fail.Itreallyboils down to those twowords…  

 I can’t.” 

There is a brilliantdocu-serieson Netflix calledCheer. It follows theNavarro Cheer squad in Texasas they work towards the National Cheer Championships, (other than being obsessed withthecult teenfilmBring It Onin the 00’s, I had no idea that competitive cheering was an actual thing!). 

Aside fromthe series demonstratingunbelievableteam strength and flawless leadership,it has taught me a lot about the power of discipline matched with self-belief.Before every performancethe teamwill bellow outritualistic, repetitivechants, one which is simply perfect: 

“We can!We will!We must!” 

Cheer Netflix Cover

Navarro Cheer Squad, as featured on Netflix.

Let go of the fear of failure

When we are faced with a situation that makes us doubt our ability, we should take a moment to breathe deeply and say those words. “I can. I will. I must.”  

That moment should allow us to reflect on the hard work we have endured to get to where we are now.  

I am pitching to this client because I know I can help them. I have more knowledge than they do, which is why they have agreed to listen to me today. They know they need my services, and I know I am capable of delivering them. That is why I am here today… I can. I will. I must.” 

This scenario is the same no matter your roleinterviewer/interviewee, employer/employee, business/customer, etc. 

Let go of the fear of rejection

The second phase of imposter syndrome stems from the fear of rejection. Whilst the first hurdle is I can do this,” the second hurdle is “what if they say no?” 

Let go of rejection – it is merely a business decision to not work with you. They are not rejecting you because you are not good enough. They are not rejecting you because you are not qualified. They are most likely saying no because the chemistry wasn’t quite right. 

And guess what… that is good news!  

The basic principle of human relationships is that feeling of chemistry. If a client didn’t feel the chemistry was right but they agreed to work with you regardless, the likelihood is that the working relationship will be rocky. Trust me, rocky relationships with clients can make you lose complete interest and motivation with your work. A bad relationship will snowball. 

  • When a working relationship is bad, you feel worthless, disinterested and resentful. 
  • When a working relationship is good, you feel motivated and you will offer even more value. 

 It takes practice and experience to let your gut instinct take over business decisions. On paper, a relationship may look lucrative. But there is no point agreeing to a partnership if there will be constant disagreements – both personally and professionally. 

Take so-called “rejection” and turn it on its head. When a prospective client turns you down, say “OK, I accept that. I’ve dodged a bullet because they do not see the value in what I have to offer. That would have been difficult to work with and I would not have felt valued.” 

Overcome imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has two aspects – fear of failure and fear of rejection.

You are valuable. You are knowledgeable. You are perfectly capable. 

When you feel imposter syndrome, repeat to yourself: “I can. I will. I must.”  

When faced with the fear of rejection, say: It’s not rejection, it is just a business decision. It is not a personal attack on my worth, my knowledge or capability.” 

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