Sally Ann Miller

Imposter Syndrome: How To Stop Feeling Like An Imposter

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Do you sometimes feel like an imposter in your business? Do you secretly worry that people might find out that you’re a fraud? Or that you don’t have enough experience/skills/qualifications?

Most entrepreneurs experience imposter syndrome, especially when they are starting out. And when they do, it prevents them from showing up as the most powerful person they can be. Imposter syndrome is a confidence killer. It can also be a sign that you’re not fully aligned with your business.

However, the solution is NOT to pursue more learning, qualifications, and skills. You don’t have to “fix” anything about you or your business to stop feeling like an imposter.

The answer lies in examining your thoughts. Find out exactly what you’re afraid of. This will reveal the work you need to do so that you can stop feeling like an imposter and start feeling confident in your business.

What you’ll learn on today’s episode:

  • Why you don’t want to ignore imposter syndrome
  • 8 signs you’re experiencing imposter syndrome in your work
  • Why more learning, qualifications, skills are not the solution
  • How to stop feeling like an imposter in your business

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Transcript

Welcome to Introverts Thriving in Business, the podcast for introverts who enjoy the comfort of her, hate the idea of selling, and want to create a thriving business on their terms. If you’re ready to go from overwhelmed and anxious, to feeling calm and accomplished in your business, then keep listening. I’m your host, Sally Miller.Welcome back to the podcast! And this week, I’m talking about something that I believe impacts pretty much every entrepreneur at some point in their business, especially in the early stages, especially if you’re just starting out. And that is imposter syndrome. So, here’s my intention for you today: I want you by the end of this episode, to go away with tools you can use to increase your confidence in your business, and also to feel more aligned in your business.

So, let’s start out by examining what exactly is imposter syndrome. So very simply, this is a feeling that comes from a thought like, “I am an imposter.” Or it’s kind of an underlying fear that you’re going to get found out, in some way, people are going to discover you’re not as good as they think you are. Or you’re not as good as you should be or expert enough, that there’s something lacking, in some way, you are a fraud in your business.

Now, unfortunately, imposter syndrome disproportionately impacts high achievers, and I know many of my listeners identify as high achievers, because I’m kind of that person too, recovering perfectionist, the A type student. And by the way, perfectionism is just a way we try and protect ourselves. It’s coming from this idea that if I somehow cover up these flaws that I think I have, then people aren’t going to discover something about you. So you can see why perfectionism goes hand in hand with imposter syndrome very often. And with high achievers, what very often happens is, we have a lower perception of ourselves than actually others have of us. We struggle to receive compliments often. We have a thought that we somehow don’t deserve this, don’t deserve this acknowledgement or recognition.

Okay, so why is it important you don’t ignore imposter syndrome? Two reasons that I want to talk about. The first one is very practical. How you think and feel impacts your sales and marketing. It impacts how you show up in your business. Now think about it: If in some way, you’re thinking you’re an imposter, you’re afraid that people are going to find something out about you, then other people are going to sense this.

Here’s an example. Imagine we have two coaches. And they both have the exact same website, the exact same coaching package, they serve the same audience, and they charge the same amount of money. But coach number one is thinking, “I don’t know if I can help them,” or is worried that people are going to find out something about them, always thinking, “I’m not expert enough in some way.” Whereas coach number two is thinking, “I help my clients get results.”

Clearly, they’re going to show up very differently on a sales call, for example, in their marketing. The coach that worry about how people are going to perceive them is thinking that maybe they’re an imposter is going to be more inclined to hide, to turn down the volume on their marketing message to show up with a lot less confidence. And that’s going to translate into less sales, less money in the business. Whereas, the coach that simply thinking, “I help my clients get results” is going to show up with a lot more confidence and certainty. And that’s going to result in more people wanting to work with them. They’re attracted to that coach’s energy. Okay, makes sense?

So that’s one very important reason why you don’t want to ignore imposter syndrome. But there is also a second reason. And I think this one might even be more important. Imposter syndrome can be a sign that you’re not fully aligned with your business. What do I mean by “fully aligned” with your business? If in some way, you’re doubting that you’re good enough, or you’re scared that people are going to find something out about you, you are not fully connected with your audience. You’re not fully in love with your people and your business and what you do. There’s something that’s not quite right. And I’m going to be walking through some exercises, so you can find that thing. It might just be a thought it could be a really simple fix, by the way, but you want to find it so that you can be wholly aligned with your business.

Now, I do want to add a quick caveat here is: If you’re someone who experiences a lot of anxiety or fear or struggling with imposter syndrome, I don’t want you to think “I have to fix myself before I can go start making money in my business.” So, I am actually going to share tools and you want to be using those tools to work on your thoughts, work on your mindset, work on your interstate, but I also want you to keep on taking action in the outside world, because you can still make a lot of money, even when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome. So I just wanted to add that quick side note.

Now, I’m also going to share some ways imposter syndrome can show up, because some are very obvious, but sometimes it’s kind of a little sneaky. And you might not even realize that you actually are experiencing imposter syndrome. So, here’s some signs some ways to know that imposter syndrome is a thing for you, and also what not to do. So, number one, really obvious, is if you’re hiding, if you’re avoiding or if you’re feeling paralyzed and not taking action in your business, this is imposter syndrome. Or probably, it is a sign that it might be imposter syndrome. There can be other fears that might be going along with that. But it’s often a sign or an indicator that you don’t want to expose yourself in some way, in case people discover that you’re a fraud.

Another very common sign of imposter syndrome is fixing, trying to fix it. And that looks like taking more courses, getting certified, getting more qualifications, more education. This is coming from this idea of: “If I just improve in this area, then I’ll be good enough.” This is one example of what I don’t want you to do. You can’t fix it by going to get more education. Because when you get that certification or that qualification or that diploma, if you haven’t fixed the thoughts you have that are creating the imposter syndrome, you’re still going to feel like you’re falling short. And you’re going to be constantly on the wheel of training, learning, educating yourself more, trying to get better, trying to get more skills, okay, but still not feeling confident in your business. So if you’re kind of fixing it by education, that’s another sign of imposter syndrome. And that just does not work.

Something else I see often with people who have imposter syndrome is overworking in attempt to prove yourself. So instead of being paralyzed or being frozen, they’re going into busy work. They’re going into trying to do lots and lots of things trying to get the A grade. This kind of goes along with the high achiever and the perfectionism as well. It’s sort of trying to be the top student in the class by doing more work. Okay, again, that doesn’t help with the imposter syndrome, and you kind of end up with burnout.

Another way this can actually show up is not wanting to raise your hand and ask for help. So, if you’re someone who is suffering and struggling with imposter syndrome, then you might be afraid that if you actually ask for help, go to your coach or go to family or friends or whoever it is and say, “Can you help me with this?” You’re afraid that people are going to discover some truth about you. And so you actually don’t even raise your hand, you’re unwilling to do that.

Another way this can show up is comparison itis. And by the way, all these can come from other fears. But imposter syndrome often manifests in these ways. So comparison itis is where you’re focusing on why you’re not good enough compared to other people. It’s looking online and scrolling through other people’s websites are in the same niches you comparing them to you and deciding you come up short.

Now, there are some sneaky ways that imposter syndrome can show up. And one of them is by being overly pushy and convincing, especially in sales. And the reason why I say that this can be— it’s not always—but it can be a sign of imposter syndrome is if you’re putting a lot of energy into trying to convince others. And it’s probably because you secretly need to convince yourself of something, you need to convince yourself that you’re good enough. And so you’re kind of pushing and you’re sales, you’re kind of over explaining that’s another way it shows up, or you’re justifying yourself or over justifying your offer.

And the other sneaky way that imposter syndrome can show up is by people pleasing. And look, I get it. I am also, as well as being a recovering perfectionist, a recovering people pleaser. And this is where you kind of appeasing the complainers. You’re agreeing with them, rather than have them standing strong in your own authority, standing strong in your own confidence, you are instantly going to the place where you agree with your complainers or your critics or even a perceived criticism rather than standing strong in your own power.

So those are all of the ways or some of the many ways that imposter syndrome may show up in your life. What do you do about it? The first thing I want you to do is find the exact underlying thoughts that are creating this sense of imposter syndrome. And this is really important, you need to be super specific here. And the way you can do that is by answering this question. What are you afraid that others will discover about you? Because really, your answer to that question are thoughts you believe about yourself, either consciously or subconsciously. You might not be consciously aware that you have doubt in your own skills, or you think you’re not expert enough or think you’re not good enough in some way. But deep down, you do believe that because that’s where the imposter syndrome has come from.

And I want you to find the exact thoughts that are creating the feeling. Some examples might be, “I haven’t created this result for myself yet.” So if you help people achieve a certain result, but you haven’t created it for yourself, then that is highly likely to create a sense of imposter syndrome. It can also be something along the lines of: I’m too… fill in the blank. I’m too old, too young, too introverted, too inexperienced. One of those.

It can also be, a thought might be, “I haven’t helped someone else create this result yet.” So perhaps you have created a result in your life. Okay, maybe you got into an Ivy League school. And now you want to help others do the same using your method. But because you haven’t actually been paid to do that, or haven’t helped someone else, you’ve only done it for yourself, that can actually be creating a feeling of being an imposter being a fraud.

Another one might be: “I don’t have this qualification, or this skill.” I talked about that earlier. This is the one that drives a lot of people into fixing themselves to try and get out of that feeling of being an imposter, and that just does not work. And another thought might be something about your past, “I failed at starting a business in the past, and so I’m going to fail again.” Or “if people found out that I failed at this in the past, they’re going to think I’m an imposter.”

So find the concrete thoughts, the very specific thought or thoughts, there will probably be several of them, that are creating that feeling of imposter syndrome. And I want you to write them down, put them on black and white. This might be uncomfortable work, but you absolutely can do it. And then once you’ve done that, I want you to go through each thought that came up and ask yourself this. Is it true that you’re an imposter for this reason? Okay, not just “Is this true about me?” But even if it is true, does that mean you’re an imposter? Okay, so some of the statements are just gained, you’re going to realize they’re not going to true, you’re going to be able to dismiss them.

For example, one might be if you wrote down, “I’m too old to start a business.” And that is creating that sense of being an imposter. And then it’s quite easy to argue with your brain. Did you know that a high number of successful businesses were started by entrepreneurs past the age of 50? A famous example is Harland Sanders. Is that his name? Who created Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I think it was aged 62 at the time. I’m too old, definitely does not make you a fraud, a fake an imposter. But you may find a thought that is totally true about you, but does it make you an imposter.

Let’s look for an example. Let’s imagine you want to be a coach. And you say you’re thinking: “I don’t have a certification and so I can’t be a coach.” Okay, it might be a fact that you haven’t yet been certified as a coach. But is it really true that not being certified makes you an imposter? And gives the honest answer to you that might feel true, okay. But be honest with yourself.

When you’ve done this exercise, and I have more exercises for you, what you’re going to see is just being aware of the underlying thoughts and questioning whether they’re true, is going to be enough to start to let them go. But what do you do if you find a thought that just feel so true to you? And it feels so true that because of that thought, you can’t be successful, you can’t be expert and you are an imposter in your business? What should you do then? Should you change your business because of imposter syndrome? Well, not necessarily, like I said, examine all your thoughts first.

However, I do want to raise a very important point here. The problem, this could be highlighting, the imposter syndrome could be highlighting the fact that you are in some way out of alignment with your business. That there’s something in your business that feels off feels false, feels fake, doesn’t represent who you truly are. You’re not being genuine and authentic. Perhaps you’re misrepresenting yourself. I don’t necessarily mean you’re outright lying, although some people do, but I don’t think my audience does. But in some way, you discover you are misrepresenting yourself in your business. If you find something like that, you don’t need to throw your business away. But what you do want to do is adjust your messaging, tweak it to be as honest and true to you as you can make it.

And I’m going to give you an example here of how that might look. So as many of you know, towards the end of last year, I focused my business down to help introverts build successful businesses. I used to really just help anyone who wanted to make money from home. And I decided to really hone in and work with just my people; people who are introverted, and struggled with all of the problems that we struggle with as introverts trying to start a business and trying to grow it. And prior to doing that, I had this thought, “I’m too introverted different to be a leader and expert.” I genuinely felt that there were traits of mine qualities of mine, that meant I could not be a leader, and you are suffering from some comparison itis I was looking at other coaches in the industry who are making a lot of money, who are highly successful and in my mind, I was coming up short.

And the way I was able to adjust and get more and aligned in my business was by changing my niche was by focusing in on introverts. Basically, I decided to own the fact that this is who I am, this is who I identify as, and I like that I don’t want to change it. However, I can also be a leader to my people. I have learned skills that other introverts will benefit from. And I even reached a point where I truly believe in my heart, that what makes me different, is why I’m the best person for my people. And that’s going to be true for you, too. Because we are all different. I’m no snowflake. Everybody out there is different and unique. We all have our quirks. But that is not a problem. That is actually the real reason you are the best person to do what you do.

So, imposter syndrome is an opportunity to identify if there are any areas where you are not being fully authentic in your business, and you are out of alignment. Now, one more thing that I want you to do, one final step. Once you’ve examined all the thoughts, and either let them go or tweak your business, so that you’re more in alignment. I also want you to answer one question, and it really follows on from what I was just talking about. And the question is this: what are all the reasons you are the best person to help your audience? Get very specific about those reasons, because this is where your confidence is going to come from. This is how you’re going to feel empowered to show up in your business as your true self, and your audience are going to connect with that so deeply.

All right, I’m going to close the episode here. But quickly, one final reminder, please don’t use thought work against yourself. I still want you working in your business, because I know that you can be very successful. And in the meantime, build your confidence, answer the two questions that I shared in this episode, and go out there and start making an impact. I’ll see you next time.

If you’re ready to thrive in business, I want to invite you to join Business Growth Lab. This is my group program where I teach you the exact process I and my students have used to grow profitable businesses we love. When you join the lab, you get lifetime access to everything you need to grow a six-figure business: the training, expert coaching, accountability, and community. The approach we take is scientific. We don’t dabble in business, and we don’t waste time. You’ll create your business on a solid foundation, using proven methods. To join, go to www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab. We’ll see you inside.

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