How Entrepreneurs Can Fight Imposter Syndrome
Take a moment to consider the last big goal you set inside your company—one that hasn’t been completed yet.
How confident are you in your ability to achieve that goal?
Now—how confident are you that achieving that goal will actually happen?
There’s a subtle shift that happens when the question is asked for the second time.
Having confidence is one thing. Really believing you can have what you want is, surprisingly, quite another.
Identifying imposter syndrome
You won’t hear me use the term “imposter syndrome” very often, but it’s something I’ve struggled with—and something I know nearly all entrepreneurs struggle with as well.
Imposter syndrome is that nagging voice in the back of your head, saying “Why me? What makes me qualified to decide? Do these people know that I have NO idea what I’m doing?”
Listen to that voice just enough, and it will keep you humble, hungry, and open to learning. But let that voice take over, and it will cripple your ability to act, keep you small, and leave you with the persistent feeling that you’re not meeting your full potential.
Where does imposter syndrome come from? You can read a deeper explanation here, but my short answer is: head trash. We’ve all got it. And for as long as you let it run your life, it will hold you back.
Start to become who you want to be
I’ve had to deal with my fair share of imposter syndrome myself. And I’m no psychologist, but there are a few things that have helped me adjust my thinking and start to act like the person I want to be:
Look at your inner circle. That cliche of being the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? I don’t know if 5 is the perfect number, but it’s true. Take a look at the people who are in your life most often. Do they inspire you? Do they help you feel like a better person? Do they bring an energy that lifts you up or brings you down?
Finding supportive, inspiring cohorts is one reason so many entrepreneurs join executive peer groups like EO, Vistage, YPO, or C12.
Examine your follow-through. Do your actions continually move you closer to your goals? You may feel confident that you can build a $50M company, but if you aren’t taking action toward becoming that company—and that business owner—there’s something holding you back.
Venturing into unknown territory; taking risks: there’s fear there. And that fear can show up as procrastination, self-sabotage, or “staying stuck” instead of moving ahead.
Connect to your deeper purpose. I know, I know. You’ve heard about purpose and your “why” ad nauseam. But the truth is that money is not a long-term motivator (and believe me, I love making money). You may not need to change the world. But whatever is going to make you happy, connect with that and then give it your absolute best.
The all-important question
You don’t have to eliminate all your doubts or be 100% confident all the time to move forward.
But there is one important question to start asking yourself.
When the voice of imposter syndrome starts to speak up, if often asks “Why me?”
Instead, flip the script. “Why not me?”
Yes, you’ll need to be disciplined. You’ll have to work hard. But no matter how ambitious your goals are, there’s no reason you can’t achieve them.
Why not me?
I, for one, believe in you.