I deal with impostor syndrome. Usually impostor syndrome hits me when I am about to make a big decision for the company, but sometimes it just hits me out of nowhere, I could be in the middle of a conference or at a networking event or reading an email and someone congratulates me on the success of DCN and I freeze. I start to panic and almost feel an anxiety attack coming.
See in my mind, I feel like a fraud, why are they congratulating me on the success of DCN. I didn’t hit the milestones I wanted to in 2018, I begin thinking about how small our team is and how hard they have to work to keep up with the needs of DCN, I begin thinking about our revenue model and how I need to get it to X by Q2 to keep DCN up and running, I begin thinking about missed opportunities DCN can’t be apart of right now, because we are currently running a lean company.
And that ish sucks. But I am not alone. Every single entrepreneur gets hit with impostor syndrome even the ones who you think are successful and confident. Because truth be told, we all are figuring this all out along the way to some extent.
This is what I love about being apart of DCN, I get to learn from all different kinds of entrepreneurs all the time, I get to listen to their pain points, I get to celebrate their successes with them. I ALSO get to hear these same entrepreneurs speaking about impostor syndrome, especially those at the very top. These individuals have learned a lot, through both their experiences and the mentorship of others. But they weren’t born with some intuitive leadership ability. They didn’t go through a program that prepared them for every outcome. They had nothing more than the passion to go into the unknown, and the wisdom to appreciate what they didn’t know. They learned, and they continue to learn each and every day.
Which leads me back to why I began this series, this series isn’t about complaining about how startup life is so hard or some sappy poor me I have it so hard kind of content. I am doing this to bring awareness to the challenges we face each and every day. The thoughts and emotions we have to learn to work through while we find out who we are and the leader that we each have the ability to become.
So, next time you are taking the dark path down impostor syndrome road. Stop what you are doing, acknowledge why you are feeling this way, and then work through it.
Below I have highlighted a few ways to help you through this process:
1. Let go. Usually I feel like a fraud when I think I’m more important than I am. When you feel like a fraud it’s in relation to some perfection that never actually existed. Letting go of some of your excess self-importance will go a long way in helping you feel less like a fake.
2. Accept that you have had some role in your successes. We feel like frauds because we are “unable to internalize our successes”. We were given an opportunity that others weren’t. And so nothing we achieve after that opportunity was actually deserved. Change your thinking. Everyone can have an idea, can be given an opportunity, but it takes hard work and showing up each and every day, which is true success. You have made it this far no matter how small or big your company may seen, you have made it to this point and are still here.
3. Focus on providing value. I feel like a fraud when I’m concerned about myself. What will they think of me? If I fail they’ll shun me. I don’t know as much as that other human, I have no right to say anything on the topic. The fastest way to get over feeling like a fraud is to genuinely try to help someone else.
4. Keep a file of people saying nice things about the company or even yourself. I just started this two years ago by making a channel in our company slack group and it’s been amazing. Every time someone writes that DCN helped them or that they like something about DCN I take a screenshot and put it in my folder. When I feel like a fraud I can go look through the stories of people DCN has helped.
5. Appreciate your progress. I guarantee if you spend all of your time looking at what other people are doing day in and day out, then you won’t have any time for yourself. You have to appreciate where you are in this moment because if you’re serious about your business, whatever that may be, then you have to be committed to getting better each day.
7. Be patience. I love reading articles and blog posts about raising capital, marketing and business strategies. What I found at the foundation of every strategy is two things: Consistency and Patience.
Consistency, especially at the beginning, is one of the main reasons why people fail. They burst out of the gate with a million and one ideas, they finally get started, they find some success (or don’t), then they give up. They ran out of ideas or they didn’t have the time to keep up with everything. That’s a hard truth and it’s ok, but the problem comes from some people that aren’t patient with their process. If you fall off the wagon for a few weeks, fine. If you feel the need to apologize then by all means, but the only thing that will make it better is if you come back better and harder each time.
Don’t beat yourself up because you fell off the wagon. Get back up and bring everything you have and go harder. No one will notice you fell off for a little bit. The ones that do notice, are probably just happy to see you back.
8. Realize that nobody knows what they’re doing. Most startups fail. Even the ones that you hear about raising millions of dollars fail all the time. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on. There are a ton of people who will tell you they know the answers, when they really don’t.
The world we live in is the result of a lot of brave people tinkering, failing, and succeeding once in a while. Nobody knows what’s next: some are willing to play ball in the face of uncertainty and some aren’t. You’re not an impostor for trying something that might not work. You’re a hero.
9. Realize that you are never you. You’re constantly evolving. You’re constantly becoming a new person. Your opinions change with new information (I hope). You spend 6 months eating burritos and then you spend 6 months at the spin class. Last year you were obsessed with podcasts, now you prefer reading books all the time. Maybe you were in a terrible mood this morning. Maybe you’re a bit brighter now. You are growing into something different. You are getting better. How? By trying to do something better than you actually can. That’s not a lie, that’s growth.
10. Find one person you can say, “I feel like a fraud” to. Being able to say that out loud to another person can be a huge help. Especially when they laugh at you for it.
Impostor syndrome is tricky. It’s your brain telling you that you’re trying to be someone you’re not. It wants you to think that every failure is further proof that you’re not good enough for what you’re doing.
Your level of self-esteem and how you deal with it as you navigate through life is something you’re going to have to keep in check to survive. I know this, because I’ve let those things get in my way so many times, I’m surprised I could even find my way out from behind them.
So go out and be exactly who you are at all times. Never apologize for it or compare yourself. I promise that if you own your journey, you’ll quickly go from who you are in this moment, to exactly who you want to be.
Each of you have the opportunity right now to overcome your impostor syndrome. This is what we’re going to do. A confessional of sorts.
Write in the comments one thing you’ve avoided because you feel like a fraud. (If you don’t want to comment, you can email me. However, commenting will be more powerful.) Maybe you haven’t started that podcast because you feel that you couldn’t do it as well as the people already speaking about the topic you are focusing on. Maybe you haven’t started your business because you don’t think you’re an “entrepreneur.” I don’t know. There are all sorts of thing.
Next step: Do something about it! If you don’t know what to do, I’ll give you a suggestion. The comment itself will be a huge step for sure. It’ll be even more huge to take the thing head on.
Until next week, let’s think higher.
P.S. Want to learn more about Direct Cannabis Network? Visit www.directcannabisnetwork.com