Women In Business

Let’s banish imposter syndrome for good

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If there’s one phrase I hate, it’s imposter syndrome. We’ve all at one time or another felt like we don’t know what we’re doing. That people will see through us and expose us as a fraud.

Well, so what? In my opinion, whoever decided to slap a name on this feeling and suggest that it is worth our time and analysis has a lot to answer for.

Here’s why – the feelings characterised as ‘imposter syndrome’ are totally normal. I’ve certainly experienced them. But that doesn’t mean we need to treat them with any weight. Why are we breathing life into a term which does nothing but hold us back?

This is particularly true for women who tend to self-identify with imposter syndrome more than men. Do we really need one more barrier on top of everything else which makes it harder for women leaders, entrepreneurs, idealists and dreamers?

Next year I’ll celebrate four years in business as the Founder and Director of specialist SME marketing consultancy, Green Door Co. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in that time is to kick imposter syndrome to the curb.5

Here’s how I’ve managed to banish imposter syndrome from my life.

Realise that the voice in your head is often wrong

It can feel totally counterintuitive, but it turns out that the voice in your head is often just plain wrong. More often than not if that voice is dredging up negativity time and time again, it’s simply a manifestation of your fears and anxieties, rather than a logical train of thought.

Once I realised that I didn’t have to listen to that voice inside my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t know enough or that people would think I was fraud, suddenly I was free.My process now is that I will acknowledge how I’m feeling and what that voice is telling me, determine why I am feeling that way, put that thought to the side and simply carry on. Over time you’ll find that that voice will subside to a whisper.

Acknowledge that other people don’t care that much about what you do 

It’s an unfortunate part of the human condition that we will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid social rejection. It’s a primal and biological urge designed to ensure we make connections – we are social animals after all. However, this fear of rejection leads many of us to live our lives constantly making decisions (or not making decisions) simply to avoid rejection. We worry people will judge us – they’ll think we’re too big for our boots, or we don’t know what we’re doing.

When you think about it, this is a totally illogical way to make a decision. Especially because the truth is that people largely don’t care what you do or don’t do. People are far too wrapped up in their own lives to spend time judging how you spend every waking minute. And those that do are usually a victim of their own insecurities.

Living in fear of judgment or rejection is completely fruitless. Making every life decision through the lens of whether or not someone will accept you for that decision is an absolute waste.

Assuming you’re not a terrible person, the only people you need to answer to are yourself and those you care about.

Recognise that the very nature of doing something new requires you to wing it

One of my favourite articles from a few years back raised this idea that we are all just winging it, all the time. Think about it, it’s one hundred percent true. Every time you do something new there will always be a sense that you’re winging it – because you are.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be prepared, or get educated, or do your research – I’m just saying that every time you do something new it will be unchartered territory. So of course it’s going to feel uncomfortable and a little scary. It will feel like you’re ‘winging it’. If it doesn’t then you’re probably not taking enough of a risk.

Here’s to banishing imposter syndrome for good. Who’s with me?

About Heather Marano

Heather Marano is the Founder and Director of Specialist SME marketing consultancy, Green Door Co, based in Sydney, Australia. Over the last decade she has worked with over 60 small and medium sized businesses on their PR and marketing programs. She even picked up a B&T 30 Under 30 award in the PR & Marketing category in 2015. Dedicated to supporting SMEs who are often excluded from marketing opportunities due to cost, Heather has recently launched a DIY PR course called PR 4 SMEs.

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