How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

As I sit here to type this I question who I am to help you with overcoming imposter syndrome.

After all, I am still questioning myself. Shouldn’t I have figured this out before I start telling YOU how to do it?

This is the exact reason I am writing this to you right now.

You will never not feel like a fake. You will never stop questioning whether or not you are truly qualified to help people. You will never get to a point where you’re finally “good enough” and you’re now “ready” to rest on your laurels.

Why this is the best news ever

At first, this might sound like bad news. You might feel a little sad and think “what the hell is the point of even trying to get better then if I’ll never feel like I’m really qualified?”

I know. I felt the same way. But with time your motivations for improving will stop coming from a place of trying to prove that you’re good enough, to deeply wanting to increase your capacity to help others.

The truth is that this never feeling like you’re enough is not bad news. It’s actually the best news ever.

Allow me to explain…

Knowing that you’ll never stop feeling like a fake, you can finally relax knowing that everyone else feels exactly like you do.

Everyone is making it up as they go along to different degrees.

Of course you should do what you need to do to feel qualified to a reasonable degree. You should definitely get experience under your belt, learn from the best people you can find and get the necessary certifications that are required for your field.

But many, many people still feel afraid of charging what they’re worth, claiming their voice and really owning their purpose because they don’t feel good enough, or because they haven’t accomplished the same things as person X.

They do the world a massive disservice because they’re waiting for this magical point where they’ll finally be “read” to step up, lead, and start helping others.

So, let me lay it to you straight. You ready?

PLEASE DO NOT BE THIS PERSON. YOU ARE ACTIVELY HURTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS BY NOT DOING WHAT YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED RIGHT NOW. STOP WAITING!!!

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into the specifics of how you can help people and own your purpose before you’re the best in the world.

1. Be an anti-authority

Be transparent and honest about where you are. You don’t have to have a degree from the most prestigious university. You don’t have to have endorsements from famous people or have been on Oprah.

Instead, you can focus on being an anti-authority. What is an anti-authority? It’s the opposite of a guru. An anti-authority is someone that says “Look, I don’t have everything figured out, but I’m doing the work. I’ve learned some things and I’m happy to share them with you. Come walk beside me and let’s learn from each other.”

Trying to be act like a big-shot takes a lot of energy anyway.

Action: Write on your about page your story of what you’ve done, and how you’re currently doing the work. Invite people to walk beside you.

2. Start doubting yourself

Those voices you have that tell you you can’t do it? Doubt them.

Those voices that tell you everyone will realize you’re a fraud? Doubt the shit out of them.

Seriously, you don’t have to believe everything you tell yourself. Most of the voices are just B.S. protective mechanisms trying to save you from a lion chasing you. There are no lions anymore. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you fail or get rejected.

Action: Write out all the reasons you doubt you can help people, then counter it with a list of why you’re qualified to do this work.

3. Create a mountain of evidence for your expertise

Chances are you’ve done a lot to make you uniquely positioned to start your own revolution. Maybe you’ve gone through a major personal transformation. Perhaps you’ve conquered some serious demons like addiction, mental illness or loss and lived to tell the tale.

Your story and your unique experiences add up to an interesting cocktail that lets you speak to a certain group of people better than anyone else. Look into your story and you’ll find the clues that will lead you to your tribe.

Action: What unique experience do you have that no one else possesses?

4. Trust what you’ve learned

Seriously, you’ve done a lot. Start trusting the knowledge, training and resources you currently possess.

Stop the hamster wheel of never-ending info hoarding and researching that’s just covering for your fear of putting yourself out there.

Chances are you have learned a lot already and you’re more ready than you might think.

Action: Print out or hang up whatever certifications and qualifications you have somewhere visible in your space. Even if it’s just receipts of workshops you’ve attended or a bookshelf featuring all the books you’ve read on your subject. Use it as a reminder that you’ve got the goods.

5. Practice receiving

All the accolades in the world won’t do you any good unless you actually give them credit and believe them. If people tell you you really helped them, stop shitting on their compliments by not actually receiving them.

If several people tell you’re good at something, chances are they’re not just lying to you.

Action: Next time someone compliments or thank you, actually fully receive it. Maybe even write down what they said and put it on your bathroom mirror.

6. Be schizophrenic

Well not actually schizophrenic. Just try talking to yourself as if you’re not you. What advice would you give to a client or friend about whether they can lead and help people with their talents and skills?

Here’s something really weird: we’re always less of a dick to others than ourselves. This is kind of stupid because we have to be with ourselves all the time. When someone is a dick to you, you can walk away, but you obviously can’t walk away from your own mind.

So, why not try being less of an asshole to yourself?

Action: What would you say to your client or friend about their ability to serve and lead? Say that to yourself and stop being a jerk to yourself for a change.

7. Publicly claim your leadership

This is the scary part. Yep, I’m actually going to ask you to make this real now.

It’s time for the rubber to meet the road.

All the self-work and inner stuff won’t do any good unless you match it up with some outward action.

You can do this now by publicly offering your products or services. Get out there and tell people what you have to offer, what your mission is and how they can join you.

Action: Publicly share on Facebook/LinkedIn (or wherever you hang out most online) what you have to offer and why you’re stepping fully into your purpose

The final step: there isn’t one

You wish that you could just “get over it” and stop feeling like a fraud. I know. I feel like that too.

But you know what? The more you practice the advice above, the easier it gets. Yes, you will still feel like you have a long way to go, and you always will. That’s part of being human and living in a reality of infinitely expanding knowledge.

You will never know everything there is to know, or have the perfect skill set.

And that’s just fine.

You’re ready anyway.

Start leading.

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"Jonathan gave me two invaluable things: solid guidance on what really works, and the confidence to make things happen."~ Cara Stein

Comment & Add Your Voice

Donna August 20, 2015 at 2:55 pm

THANK YOU! This is all very good and very timely advice!

Reply

Catherine Soliz-Rey August 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I love love love this! Thank you. great takeaways :)

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David Throop August 20, 2015 at 3:42 pm

“Everyone is making it up as they go along to different degrees.”

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David Throop August 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Oops, I accidentally hit submit before I could actually comment!

“Everyone is making it up as they go along to different degrees. ”

That’s the best take-away from the article!

I’ve worked in other industries and was considered an “expert” and often knew that behind the scenes, I was just making it up as I flew along.

The key to finishing any marathon is taking the first step.
Thanks for sharing!

LaMiskey August 20, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Great article. Everyone sees my talaent except me. I need to get schizophrenic!

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Irene August 20, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Timely indeed! I’ve been struggling with this for a while but I’ve finally talked myself into moving forward with my boot camp in spite of my fears and doubts. Your article is further confirmation that I’m ready. Thank you!

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Dustin Lee August 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm

I LOVE this article.

After graduating with a business degree I decided I wanted to be a designer.

So I quit my job and went to community college for a year to study design (I couldn’t afford a fancy design college because I already went into debt getting my “business man” degree).

Then I spent years feeling like a poser. I got bad gigs, struggled, went into debt. I often woke up at night wondering if I was crazy for trying to follow my dream. I felt like an imposter 100%.

Then after many years I caught some breaks. Then I caught a lot of breaks. Then people started thinking I was an expert.

But I still feel like an imposter. But now a bit less.

Thanks for this article, Jonathan. It was the perfect ending to my day!

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Ethan Bridges August 21, 2015 at 10:25 am

“Then people started thinking I was an expert.”

I know exactly what you mean. Oh, this Impostor Syndrome is a darn good topic! It’s funny–you get to a point when you think whether you’re actually good at your passion, you won’t believe in yourself, but in the end, people will look at you as an expert. Eventually you’ll agree with them, because it’s just true–you’ve become really good at what you do!

It will always show up. However you keep it, or delay it, you’ll do that one thing you love, and you’ll overcome this Impostor Syndrome after all. It’s just a matter of time.

Catharine August 21, 2015 at 8:19 am

Love this — and I adore your blog. Wish I had more time to hang out here.

Her Majesty, The Queen Impostor :-)

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serwaa August 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm

This was a really inspiering blog post. Some of the “actions” I already practice like hanging up certifications I get.

Best wishes/serwaa

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Mel August 21, 2015 at 2:48 pm

This really hits the nail on the head. Love, love, love it.

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Mathias August 22, 2015 at 1:09 am

Awesome article! This is certainly something I’ve struggled with quite a bit myself!

My personal strategy to overcome this impostor syndrome is to “fake it ’til you make it”. I basically just behave as if I am qualified until my brain stops fighting it and just accepts it as truth.

Nothing beats a bit of self-deceit in the name of confidence!

Thanks for sharing this!

Reply

Johanna August 22, 2015 at 8:32 am

Thank you, Jonathan!
:)

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Joe August 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm

This is a great article! I’m going through some changes right now where I will stepping into a bigger leadership role, and this is exactly what I needed to read.

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Mel August 28, 2015 at 3:14 am

This is my first time on your blog and I reeeeally love this post! I’ve been wanting to write motivational articles but I’m finding it hard to motivate my own self and has been procrastinating a lot due to fear of rejection. A lot of takeaways here.

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Garret Hunt August 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Some great points in there, Jonathan. I am definitely always harder on myself than I am on others. My favorite point was being an anti-authority; what a great way to frame it.

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