Many an experienced entrepreneur has struggled with self-doubt about their accomplishments throughout their careers. And if they never fully overcome this "imposter syndrome," they could get stuck questioning the deservedness of their success.
Perfectionism and imposter syndrome often go hand in hand, and entrepreneurs may strive to compensate by working even harder and better -- sometimes with negative consequences for their well-being. These six entrepreneurs share their own experiences with imposter syndrome, along with their best tips on how to overcome it.
Realize that most people feel this way.
"The best way I snap out of imposter syndrome when doubting myself is by realizing that many professionals feel this way at some point or another," explains Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights.
According to Christoff, remembering that no one is 100 percent sure of themselves all the time is the first step toward dealing with your own self-doubt: "We're human and it's OK to admit that we don't always reach our goals on time or remember to complete a task. It happens. That doesn't mean we aren't good at what we do."
Seek out a peer network.
To overcome imposter syndrome, try connecting with others who have been where you are and seek their advice. Nick Eubanks, CEO of From The Future, emphasizes that confidential professional cohorts are a great resource for this.
"I found that a professional support group gave me assurance that the way I was feeling was not only natural, but normal -- and it helped me get over it," he says.
Laugh it off.
Some entrepreneurs don't need to seek out advice if they have trustworthy partners and teams to rely on. Zach Binder, president and co-founder of Bell + Ivy, explains: "In my office, I can tell my partner and my team just about anything I'm feeling. So, when I feel like an imposter, I go next door and tell my partner."
According to Binder, it's important to be able to share these feelings with someone who can help you laugh it off. "She usually laughs hard enough that I begin to laugh. We have our moment, she assures me that I am not an imposter and we are doing good things, and I go on with my day," he says.
Remember your positive attributes.
"I remind myself of my transferable capabilities -- grit, resourcefulness, adaptability, being a fast learner -- and remember that it's about being brave, not perfect," says Frances Dewing, CEO and co-founder of Rubica Inc. This positive exercise helps to counteract the negativity of inevitable insecurities.
"Every CEO, leader and entrepreneur I've ever met has questioned themselves at some point, and even people who appear confident have insecurities. Rather than wondering 'why me,' think 'why not me?'" she advises.
Look back at your accomplishments.
When your self-doubt tells you that you're undeserving of success, remind yourself of all your accomplishments and past wins, believes LFNT Distribution Co-Founder Colbey Pfund.
"It is easy to fall into the thinking that you do not belong where you are. I've been there. For me, the simplest way to break out of that slump is to look back at what I've accomplished," Pfund explains. "By looking at how far you've come in the past year, five years, ten years, etc., you'll quickly see that you are anything but an imposter."
Plan ahead and set goals.
At the end of the day, it's important to not only look back but also to look forward. Measure your success by your future goals, thinks Alisha Navarro, founder and president of 2 Hounds Design.
"Today, I'm running the largest company I've ever run in my life. Every challenge feels bigger, every obstacle seems taller. And yet if I look at what I know now versus what I knew about running a company five years ago, I've grown and come so far," she says. Her advice? "Look ahead, yes. Plan. Make goals. And also give yourself permission to be OK with where you are."