Imposter syndrome is real, and even the most confident people in business feel it. I want to talk about it here because I had two contrasting moments of feeling on top and feeling on the bottom this past week.
And I know there are so many of you starting out in new ventures these days as you’ve had to reassess life and work in a pandemic. Businesses are closing and new ideas and projects are being born. All of us are figuring out what role we have to play in this new world.
That time I felt proud instead of not good enough
First, I’ll start with how I felt on top. I celebrated my one year business anniversary last week and shared lessons learned in this blog. Later that day, a friend called to tell me she left her corporate job to go out on her own. I offered some tips I’ve learned over the year and couldn’t help but feel proud and glad that I wasn’t back at day one. (Check out my friend, Kelly, at K Squared Group for your PR needs!)
Catching myself feeling like an imposter
And then this week on LinkedIn, I caught myself feeling like an imposter and realized how pointless it is.
Here’s what happened: I have a connection there, who adds incredible value in every post. But because she’s in my industry, instead of just appreciating the value she offers, it makes me feel a touch of envy. I was doing this without even realizing it.
My new connection posted a video about impressive email open rates over 25%. I watched it until I realized that I already use the same tactics, so I wasn’t the right target audience. I moved on. But today I opened my email provider platform and saw that I already have consistent open rates over 25%. Sometimes I even have over 40% open rates.
That’s when I realized I had been feeling like an imposter in the first place, and that this is futile and even false.
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What we think vs. what we should think
Most of us mean well and intend to be kind and giving to others if we can. It’s true in life and true in business.
But there’s a disconnect in what we know in our conscious brain and what we feel in our hearts. Here are some things I try to tell myself when I notice I’m feeling not good enough.
- Doubt: She’s doing better than me in business. Response: There’s enough business for all of us, and she’s not even necessarily my direct competition.
- Doubt: She’s so much better at ________ than me. Response: Okay, but I have other strengths that she doesn’t have, like __________.
- Doubt: You can’t do this, what did you get yourself into? Response: I’ve done something like this before, so I can handle this. Or, I’ve done harder things. I can manage this.
One handy tool for when I notice I’m feeling imposter syndrome in business
One of the best tools in my confidence toolbox is scrolling backward. When I see someone killing it in my field, I sometimes take a few moments to scroll back to where they started. Go back a year or two on countless influencers, and you’ll see they were once posting lower quality content with a whole lot less engagement. Listen to an older podcast of well-known influencers and business leaders, and you’ll hear a tremendous difference in quality.
Everyone’s beginning is all right there for you as evidence in their feed. Take a look back at others and then think forward about where you are headed.
I spend a lot of time on social media for my business and for my clients. It has so much value, and I’ll be the first to sing its praises. I’ll also be quick to point out its drawbacks. It’s easy to get caught up feeling inadequate on social media. We see what others’ impressive posts and feel less than. What we forget is how far we have come and that we have strengths that others don’t.
Name your biggest role model in business and at some point they started out at the beginning and felt unsure. And along the way they feel unsure. Because there is always someone better than us.
But there is no only like you. And there is no one who can achieve the goals you have for your business and your life just the way you will. So move on, get up and make the world better by being you.
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