How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome & Own Your Greatness
What Harvard says about this common self-sabotage
Have you ever thought, “I’m afraid someone’s going to ask me a question I don’t know the answer to!”
That fear of being “found out” is also called imposter syndrome, and it can keep you from things you really want, like reaching out to potential customers, getting on calls, and even making offers to book clients.
Wikipedia defines imposter syndrome as “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Do you struggle with imposter syndrome?
Me and my clients, too.
Did you know that “high achieving, highly successful people often suffer,” and “some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women” — this according to the Harvard Business Review? (Hello, if HBR is talking about it, it definitely shows up for their audience of high-achieving, highly successful people, right?!?)
Here’s what the women in my community have shared:
- “This topic is SO real. I struggle with this often and it holds me back!”
- “I feel that it doesn’t allow me to open up and offer up to my true potential because I may not be a ‘pro’ — even though I have SO much to offer.”
- “I get this syndrome from time to time!”
The truth is, we never have ALL the answers, and even when we think we do, we think we’ve prepared to the utmost, we can still get surprised. But that’s not a BAD thing. Let me tell you why.
That’s exactly what happened to me during my interview with John Lee Dumas for his top-rated iTunes podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire. I’d been prepping for my interview for WEEKS, had the answers to his scripted questions in front of me, and was all set…but then my carefully tested tech wasn’t working right, (and he’s famously on-time & super-strictly-scheduled).
I’d prepared ahead of time with the flow of questions and he usually sticks very closely to that, but not this time.
We managed to get through the tech issue, but within 2 minutes of the start, JLD threw a curveball question at me that made me literally start sweating. He uncharacteristically went off script, and I froze. You can hear the moment at 1:40 here (along with the rest of the episode).
I’d just proudly shared my success rate of helping over 70% of my clients who came to me in 9–5s to quit their jobs, and then he immediately responded, “Let’s talk about the 30%. Why do you think that 3 out of every 10 are failing, even though you’re essentially giving them that path to greatness?”
In my mind, I felt like I stuttered for 30 seconds and then inanely responded with something ridiculous, mumbling what felt like an excuse and metaphorically hanging my head in shame.
And the interview went on, but I was honestly so frazzled that after we wrapped up and were chatting, I asked him, “Was that OK?”
Then, for 2 months between the date of the recording and the air date, I worried about and beat myself up about it.
On the day the interview came out, I couldn’t even make myself listen to it until that night. But when I got to the dreaded moment, cringing with anticipation…it really wasn’t even noticeable.
The horror was literally all in my head.
BUT, I showed up, and it went much better than I thought. And like so much of business-building, showing up is what is required.
This is all about recognizing it, deciding if it’s something that can still help move your business forward, and not letting fear be in control.
I could have asked him to take it down, or not air it, fearing it wasn’t perfect. But I’m so glad I didn’t, because it’s led to more amazing opportunities for visibility, to connect with a whole new audience of women around the world, AND directly to paying clients who share my values and passion.
So even though I was uncomfortable, and worried, and fearful, was it worth it?
I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and now I’m even more confident in the next opportunity, that I can handle whatever comes!
How about you?
So, how do we extrapolate the lessons from this experience so that you, too, can overcome imposter syndrome, however it shows up for you?
Here’s the answer, in 2 simple steps.
These are the exact steps I’ve taken at every level to continue to move ahead and take consistent action despite having symptoms of imposter syndrome at each new level of business, from getting my first client to hitting 6 figures to preparing to publish a best-selling book (HBR backs me up on these, too):
- Recognize it.
Great news — if you’e reading this and nodding your head, you’ve already done this step! That’s the easy part!
- Get support.
Imposter syndrome is a mindset issue, but it usually holds you back from taking the kind of strategic action in your business that is going to get you those income goals and client goals you have.
If you keep imposter syndrome inside of you, it will only grow.
If you get the right support, then you can move through it quicker than you’ve ever dreamed possible.
So my question for you is, how are you allowing yourself to be supported through it?
Reply below and let me know — I want to hear your strategies!
Here’s to you showing up for yourself and overcoming imposter syndrome — your passions, dreams and goals are WORTH IT!
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Christine McAlister is a business + success coach for high-achieving, motivated women. Her company, Life With Passion, helps them rediscover their unique gifts and create freedom-based businesses.