Imposter Syndrome + How To Deal With It
Have you ever taken a huge leap of faith, or stepped outside your comfort zone, and then a.) immediately questioned it or b.) completely regretted it?
Last Wednesday, I was sitting in my therapist's office, having been riding high on the business-owner-boss-babe-freelance-status for weeks, and then it hit me: OMFG WHAT HAVE I DONE?! I left a great salary! All The Stability! I have a mortgage and a kid to take care of! I'm not good enough to do this. What was I thinking?! Who do I think I am?! I'm totally, 100%, absolutely screwed.
At the end of my epic freak-out, Jennifer says to me, gently, "Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome? It sounds like something you should read up on." First of all, I love homework, and secondly, it turns out, after reading page upon page about this global phenomenon, I realize that almost every successful person has come up against this at some point in their careers.
In marketing, we know the most important thing to do is remain authentic. We know that leading with our why and with our story will always connect us to our perfect customers, but what happens if we forget all that? What do we do when we forget the value we bring, the problems we know how to solve, and we stop believing in the expertise we offer to each and every client?
1. IF YOU CAN NAME IT, YOU CAN TAME IT
I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out. - Maya Angelou, Poet, Author, & Civil Rights Activist
Our fears and doubts can be paralyzing at times. When these thoughts and feelings arise the best thing we can to do is to acknowledge them, notice that they're there, write them out or talk about them, and then just keep going. No, seriously. It may take a while, but at some point we will start believing that our success in life is not just mere luck. We'll begin to know that we got here based on our talents and abilities. We just have to give it time and stay the course. I've always loved the term "fake it 'till you make it." It's kind of like that.
2. DON'T COMPARE
There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am. - Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
Yes, it's always healthy to do a little research on our competition, but wouldn't our time be better served on working to make these "competitors" our collaborators? Obviously this takes a healthy dose of vulnerability, but we never know where it could lead. Ask the people who you think do it better than you out for coffee, or lunch. When you get them there, simply ask questions, get real, and be open. You never know what you might be able to learn (or what you might be able to offer).
3. IT'S OKAY TO NOT KNOW
I think the most creative people veer between ambition and anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. I definitely can relate to that. We all go through that: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Is this what I’m meant to be doing? - Daniel Radcliffe, Actor
One of the most trustworthy things that someone can say to me is, "I don't know." And usually, if they're super cool, that's followed up with, "...but I'll figure it out." Just because we are intelligent, successful people who are good at what we do does not mean that we have to know absolutely everything. This high-priced perfectionism can really take a toll, and it's just not worth it. Our clients and customers will trust us more when we take an authentic approach to not knowing everything, but instead show them our dedication in working to solve the problem anyways.