Do You Suffer from “The Imposter Syndrome?”

This affects more people across the business spectrum than many think, or care to admit.

So what is an “Imposter Syndrome?” Basically it’s a description coined to describe the feelings many get when they are going to meet with prospective clients, make a presentation to a group, or just about any other interactions where they feel someone is going to expose them or call them out as some fraud. It’s foolish. Yet this under current of emotional baggage paralyses more people from taking risks in their business careers than a lot of the other negative beliefs people deal with combined. (My diagnostic apologies to real psychotherapists everywhere!)

How many times have you decided to take on a project or call on a prospective client that was out of your comfort zone only to end up scrapping the idea because after days, weeks, months (or more) of research, you tired or got bored with the idea? Maybe the issue wasn’t the subject matter.

Quite possibly you tired on the subject because you researched, and researched, and researched to the point of exhaustion. Not in the spirit of preparedness, but for some nagging fear that someone will shout “Fraud!” if you didn’t know or were able to recite verbatim the minutia on every topic that could be brought up.

It’s far easier to justify your inertia when you decide not to move forward on something because after “careful research” you decided to move onto another project. It’s a very convenient, and easily defensible reason not to move ahead. Who could argue with that analysis? Which is exactly why it can be so debilitating to your business career.

I’m fully aware that not all projects demand implementation. Many projects start out in earnest then after due diligence seem to no longer have the value to move on or it needs to be jettisoned altogether. But that’s not this discussion. I’m describing when you feel you should move but don’t. Somethings holding you back but you just can’t put your finger on why. Maybe this can shed some light on those feelings of indecision that you never applied in any self-analysis.

Below are two examples to demonstrate my point:

You just won the lottery for millions of dollars. By coincidence you’re invited to attend a diner party hosted by successful self-made business leaders. You now have just as much money as anyone attending if not possibly more. Will you feel comfortable when asked to explain how you made your millions to this group?

Probably not. Trying to explain your business prowess to a group of self-made business elites on your winning at a game of chance will probably fall on deaf ears at best. Here you would be posing as something you’re clearly not. However lets look at this same scenario with a minor change.

You’re a solo entrepreneur (or one person show) and you’re invited (again by coincidence) to this same event. You’re quite aware possibly everyone at this party has a net worth that far exceed yours, or their companies are much larger.

When you’re asked to explain your company will you engage in real discussion? Or will you look for a place and time to exit?

In this scenario you didn’t win a game of chance. You may be there by happenstance however you are among peers, and you should treat it as such. Money and balance sheets maybe used for bragging rights but have little to do with self-worth. Don’t allow this to confuse you or give you feelings of inadequacy.

More times than not the true reason most won’t take the big steps, won’t dare to risk, or will give a myriad of other reasons is based more on convoluted inner beliefs.

If you take charge of your own life, actions, and hold yourself responsible for your outcomes you’re not an imposter. You’re an entrepreneur.

Be proud, and act like it.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr