We have all heard the term “imposter syndrome”, but what exactly does it mean?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills’.

Sound familiar?

According to a 2020 review, up to 82% of people experience imposter syndrome; so that includes practically everyone – from students starting college who may feel they don’t belong, to the super mum at the school gates who always seems super groomed and on the go (but is really struggling with her life), to the person you think has it all (but they wouldn’t agree with you).

In my experience as a business coach, I have found imposter syndrome to be very common. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, where we don’t like to talk about our skills or talents, as it would be seen as bragging or having notions.

Even myself, with an award-winning business, it has often felt as if people were talking about someone else – not me.

Imposter syndrome, if allowed to prosper and go unchecked, can be very negative and restricting. It may lead to procrastination and it can cause anxiety, burnout, stress and lower job performance. It can lead to frustration, as you feel you cannot meet others’ expectations of you. None of which helps you to achieve your goals to flourish in your career or business.

As always, there are things you can do to help overcome imposter syndrome.

As with all things in life and business, it’s about the actions you take. Here’s what I have found helps:

  • Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings about why you feel like an imposter. Write them down, if that helps, then see them for what they really are: they are thoughts and feelings. Because you think and feel them does not make them a fact. Realise you are not alone (and welcome to the club). Remember, most of us experience these types of feelings and thoughts at some time, so you are in good company.
  • Borrow other people’s confidence in you and acknowledge what you have achieved. Whether it’s a business award, a new client, getting the kids fed and to all their activities or getting that job done on the farm. These are facts, and you have achieved that. See yourself as others see you until it becomes a habit.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – you will only drive yourself mad! Your competitor’s business isn’t better than yours – just get working on yours to make it what you want it to be. The neighbour’s grass isn’t really greener than yours – and I can guarantee you that the super mum at the school run feels all the same stresses and fears as you.
  • Take a deep breath and do it anyway. Taking action will help you become confident in your skills. And you must choose to be confident. Remember, you are in charge of your thoughts, so choose confidence and take on that opportunity; share your expertise. Grab all the exciting opportunities out there and ignore that little imposter syndrome voice.
  • Remember, who cares what people think? Believe in yourself. You are amazing and full of abilities, so just do it!