"You don't know what you're doing."
"Just keep quiet, you're not qualified to give an opinion on this."
"Why are they taking advice from me?"
These are all parts of imposter syndrome. Something I have and am dealing with. But I'm not alone.
Over the past year, I've been shotgunned into media opportunities, speaking engagements, surrounded by entrepreneurs at events and roundtables, and the discussion that keeps coming up: how to deal with imposter syndrome.
Specifically, I remember sitting at a breakfast with 12 entrepreneurs from Los Angeles earlier this year and this topic came up. We all went around the table and talked about our biggest challenge, ten out of the 12 people at the table said, "I feel like I don't know what I'm doing sometimes."
The truth is nobody truly knows what they're doing or can assure the outcome from any decision. There is no entrepreneur playbook or hand guide.
Here's how I've been dealing with imposter syndrome and how you can too:
1. Trust your decision-making ability
It's rare that you can't go back on any decision. So trust yourself in the moment to make the best decision with the information possible. It's not your job to be perfect, it's your job to try and make the best decision you possibly can.
Don't worry about perfection, worry about continually moving forward.
2. Realize if it's humanly possible, it's possible for you
When we see others succeeding at high levels we often see them as people with more ability. However, if you ask anyone who performs consistently at a high level what makes them great, they'll say it comes down to hard work and a deep belief in themselves.
Someone has to be the next successful entrepreneur, so why can't it be you?
Every time the words, "Why me?" get into your head change them to, "Why not me?"
3. Take time to celebrate what you've done
Entrepreneurs have a natural inclination to always look out for what's next. They achieve a goal and then immediately start working towards the next goal.
Setting goals are important, but so celebrating when you achieve them. It's too common to continually push the yardstick farther and farther without taking a second to look back at what you've accomplished.
We have a rule at our company, no matter what. When we sign a new client we celebrate that evening. Something as simple as a nice dinner out, knowing you earned it, can help remind you that you've accomplished a goal.
4. Realize a little doubt is better than blind confidence
Doubting yourself makes you double check your work, look for mistakes or alternative avenues you may not have previously thought possible. Turn the doubt you feel into productive thought, and an enhanced work ethic. This is better than thinking you walk on water and are somehow never going to make mistakes.
If if you doubt your current skills or experience, remember, there is one thing that is controllable in every situation, and that's effort.
5. Be willing to make mistakes
In business, not making a decision is making a decision. The inability to make decisions can paralyze your business. Don't fear uncertainty, instead embrace it. You're in a leadership position because people believe in your decision-making ability, now you have to as well.
If you think of great athletes, they all want the ball in their hands as the clock winds down to zero. They're going to make a decision, take a shot and live with the result. The greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan, missed 26 game winners and over 9000 shots in his career. He continually used mistakes as further motivation to get things right--something you as a leader can draw inspiration from.
Don't let your first miss stop you from taking future shots.