It’s funny how things keep showing up in your life when you need them most! All of a sudden I seem to be bombarded with articles on ‘Impostor Syndrome’, and since I get soooo many emails from mompreneurs who just aren’t sure they are “good enough”, “experienced enough” or “intelligent enough” (sound familiar??) to get start their own business, grow their home business or get in to the media, maybe it’s time to delve into the enigma: Impostor Syndrome (and most importantly – how to shake off that feeling that you are an impostor in your home business!).
What is Impostor Syndrome?
According to Wikipedia, Impostor Syndrome (also spelled imposter)
“…is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear.”
Okay, so that’s a pretty academic way of describing it. Basically if you’ve ever felt like a fraud, a phony, or not good enough to be where you are, you could be suffering from Impostor Syndrome.
What causes Impostor Syndrome?
What really stood out to me is that certain things in life can initiate the feelings of being a fraud or a phony (I’ve totally gone through this and suddenly, in hindsight, WHY it happened WHEN it did makes complete sense; which means, it must be preventable in the future). According to Creative Market:
- A new or transitional experience (such a promotion, new career, etc) that causes unfamiliar feelings. This resonates with me especially as you might know my family undertook a BIG (across the ocean and then again across the country) move last year, which meant new clients, new suppliers, and getting to know new media outlets. I definitely felt off my game for a while, and now I know why!
- Being unrealistic about what it means to be knowledgeable, experienced or being striving to be “perfect” (again, completely agree here and as moms we are often given so much to do even without all the info – HELLOOOOO motherhood!).
- Being a minority in a position or situation or feeling too overly managed (this is especially true of women in the workplace and even more so, I think, if a mom returns to work after a period of absence).
- Over-comparing yourself (and your achievements) to the people around you (and again, so true for many of us; this is probably where and why I do fall from time to time, it’s the reason I wrote For Those Days You Don’t Feel Good Enough). On the one hand we want to keep our eyes open to what others in our industry are doing WITHOUT totally getting down on ourselves.
Why is Impostor Syndrome a problem?
First and foremost, it gets in the way of doing your best with your clients and customers and can stop you from growing and delivering to your audience! The fear of failure is a powerful force and if you don’t innately believe that you deserve to be where you are, doing what you are, you won’t be able to grow into the beautiful mompreneur space that you should be!
There is good news
If the above has happened to you, you’re actually not alone. In fact, what you’re experiencing is a pretty common. I first learned about it while in a professional magazine my sister (who is a veterinarian) had lying around!
Here are a few things you can do to shake off those nagging doubts (from my article, 6 Steps to Take a Leap of Faith):
1) Have unwavering faith in yourself; be absolutely convinced that you can do what you are setting out to achieve. Faith is often taking that very first step, even when you can’t see the staircase (you mindset is a powerful force, but with a few simple steps you can be sure to program your mind for success in your home business; read my article on Getting Your Mind On Your Side for more practical real-time steps).
2) What has prevented you in the past to take this leap: procrastination, fear (did you know this often comes from the same place)? If you have a fear of failure, where does it come from (what are you afraid of)? Not feeling good enough? If that is the case, do you have faith in your product or service? Another common place for fear to dwell is a fear of not knowing enough. Perhaps you believe in your product or service, but not sure how to create awareness of your product. Identify where your fear stems from – from there you can fix it.
3) What do you need to learn to succeed in your jump (this goes along with the point above)? Fear sometimes comes from a lack of knowledge so is there something you need to learn? This need not be a full university course, but perhaps learning how to do email marketing, improve your networking, or create a Facebook ad. Or, it might just be committing to outsourcing to someone who can do it better.
“Everything you need to know in business is a learnable skill”
4) Focus on the new opportunities that you can achieve, not what you are leaving behind (like getting a monthly pay check). Stop looking behind you; time to keep your eyes firmly focused on the future.
(you can read more on my blog post, 6 Steps to Take a Leap of Faith)
Taking serious action on your part will get you through it, but if you are feeling like a fraud, you can count yourself among many well-known moms such as:
Jodie Foster, who said “I don’t feel like I am very powerful,” and “I feel like something of an impostor. I don’t know what I’m doing,” (this as she received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award back in 2007.
Tina Fey reportedly said, “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’
Kate Winslet says who said, “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”
And the gorgeous, beautiful, talented Meryl Streep (apparently the most Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor in history) has said, “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”
Still not entirely convinced? Well evidence suggests that people with impostor syndrome tend to be perfectionists, and therefore more likely to be extremely diligent and work hard in their field so that the do excel. So chances are, even if you feel like a phony from time to time, you really are doing a great job, mama.