Imposter syndrome is rife among the female business community. It seems to be a pre-programmed flight mode for many, including myself.
It’s the feeling of being a fraud. You simply don’t believe you are qualified to be in the position you are.
I have had many years struggling with imposter syndrome. My natural internal response when we gain a new client is “can we actually do this? What makes us qualified to do this?” My immediate response should really be “great, let’s get to work.”
There has never been a time when we’ve had to turn down a client because we weren’t able to do the work required. There has never been a situation where I’ve had to hold my hands up and say, “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not qualified.” Even if we come across a problem, the chances are we’ll be 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 mode and lose confidence in our ability when we are presented with a new challenge? I can only talk from my own experience as I know my biggest fear in these situations is that I will fail. It really boils down to those two words…
There is a brilliant docu-series on Netflix called Cheer. It follows the Navarro Cheer squad in Texas as they work towards the National Cheer Championships, (other than being obsessed with the cult teen film Bring It On in the 00’s, I had no idea that competitive cheering was an actual thing!).
Aside from the series demonstrating unbelievable team strength and flawless leadership, it has taught me a lot about the power of discipline matched with self-belief. Before every performance the team will bellow out ritualistic, repetitive chants, one which is simply perfect:
“We can! We will! We must!”
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 role – interviewer/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.”