I've seen a common theme with many of my coaching clients as of late. The more success they have in their businesses, the more imposter syndrome rears its ugly head. As it turns out, I've been struggling with this all year, so it's only fitting that my clients are mirroring my own imposter syndrome back to me.

What is imposter syndrome?

The Caltech Counseling Center defines imposter syndrome as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persists even though there is plenty of evidence that suggests otherwise.

Sarah Li Cain, a financial writer and one of my coaching clients said it perfectly in my private Facebook group, "I get compliments from clients about my writing skills and engagement I get from blogs, but as I start to charge more and work on more complicated tasks, those feelings [of Imposter Syndrome] creep up time and time again."

Sarah isn't the only one who feels this way. According to research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of the population feels like a fraud. It affects both genders and is found throughout all occupations.

What's even more fascinating is imposter syndrome doesn't seem to go away. Your job won't make it disappear and more success may put a magnifying glass on it.

What can we do about Imposter Syndrome?

Since we can't really make Imposter Syndrome go away for good, it's probably in our best interest to learn how to manage it instead of trying to annihilate it. In other words, we're going to have to learn to work with our own Imposter Syndrome.

Befriend it.

In her book, "Big Magic", Elizabeth Gilbert writes about how she's had conversations with her own fear. Essentially, when she feels her fear creep in she says something along the lines of "Hey Fear, I know you're just looking out for me, but you're not needed right now. I can take it from here."

She doesn't try to "punch fear in the face" as some people would suggest. Instead, she befriends it and then takes back control.

Since Imposter Syndrome is just a form of fear (the fear that we'll be found out), then perhaps we should try Gilbert's method whenever we feel it creeping into our lives.

Focus on service.

In my own experience, whenever I start to feel like a fraud it's usually because I'm more focused on myself instead of being focused on my clients. Putting my focus on serving others does the trick when I need to keep my Imposter Syndrome at bay.

Keep a running list of your accomplishments.

Warning: This is going to sound really corny.

But it works.

I have a list in one of my journals where I document my accomplishments regardless of whether they are big or small. One day it may read "I had my best revenue generating month ever!" and on another day it may look like "I actually made it to the office at a normal time today."

Whenever I'm having a terrible day or I'm feeling like a complete fraud, I take out this list and read through it.

Let's be real, it's basically our modus operandi to focus on what we haven't done or where we haven't succeeded. This opens the door for Imposter Syndrome to creep in. When it does show up, sometimes the antidote is to remind ourselves of the great work we've already done.

Final Thoughts

While Imposter Syndrome is a real pain, it is normal to feel like a fraud every once in a while. By remembering that and then doing your best to manage it, you can move past the uncomfortable feelings and go on with your day.

Published on: Aug 25, 2016
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