Chances are, at one time or another, you’ve felt like you don’t deserve to achieve. Or that you’re not worthy of your accomplishments. Maybe you feel like your skillset isn’t up to scratch. That your clients, customers, or even your boss may soon catch you as being a cheat. Even though you possess all the necessary credentials that prove you’re more than capable to complete the task.

I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. These feelings of incompetence and not-belonging are entirely natural. This phenomenon has now been labeled as “Imposter Syndrome”, and affects people all over the world.

In this post, we’ll explain what exactly Imposter Syndrome is. Plus ways it may be affecting your entrepreneurial journey and things you can do to combat it.


What Exactly Is Imposter Syndrome?

The term Imposter Syndrome, also labeled Imposter Phenomenon, was founded by American psychologist Dr. Pauline Rose Clance Ph.D., ABPP. After recording many sessions with her clientele, she discovered all her clients seemed to be having issues with very similar symptoms.

Feelings included: not being worthy of their accomplishments, that their position in life was just luck, and that soon they’d be noted as a fraud, or cheated their way to success. Even prominent figures such as Albert Einstein were said to have suffered from this negative pattern of thinking. He believed that his work didn’t deserve the credit it acclaimed.

After carrying out extensive studies, Clance and her team concluded that this feeling of fraudulence was experienced by many different age groups, races, genders, and in a variety of different occupations.

To break it down, this so-called “syndrome” makes people feel like they’re an imposter in many situations in life: work, school, and entrepreneurship. If you’re an entrepreneur, this is why you MUST be aware of this phenomenon.


Why Entrepreneurs Need To Be Aware Of It

It doesn’t matter if you are a budding or an accomplished entrepreneur. It is vital that you make yourself aware of Imposter Syndrome before it starts to inhibit your performance and ultimately stops you from reaching your full potential.

As an entrepreneur, you’re probably already dealing with varying amount of pressure on a daily basis. Daily pressures may include getting back to that client, submitting your final draft, marketing your product effectively to make a sale, ensuring your records are kept updated. The last thing you need adding to this list of psychological pressures is the feeling that you may be a fraud. Or feeling that you’re not worthy of success.

Being aware of imposter syndrome will allow you to take precautions against it affecting your day to day life. It will allow you to put mechanisms in place to help deal with these feelings as they arise. This takes the weight off your shoulders and allows you to become a confident, successful entrepreneur.

Don’t allow these feelings of fraudulence stop you from going out and becoming successful. Secure that new client, pitch that new product, or even apply for that new job! Remember, you’re in good company when it comes to people suffering from Imposter Syndrome. Even the bona fide genius behind the theory of relativity, and the famous formula E = mc².

World-renowned author, poet, and human rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”

This is a classic example of Imposter Syndrome. It shows it can even affect people of extraordinary talent and success.


How You Can Combat It

Now you’re aware of what Imposter Syndrome is, you can place some conscious effort on tackling those feelings of fraudulence and unworthiness.

As these thoughts arise, put a mental spotlight on them. Like a security guard would with an intruder trying to break into a building. This will instantly stop the thoughts in its tracks so to speak. Allowing you time to look at the issue from an objective point of view. Noting that it is only a negative thought that doesn’t belong to you and serves no purpose ruminating in your conscious or subconscious mind. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to spot when symptoms arise. Then you can squash them before they infiltrate your daily life.

Another good way to combat Imposter Syndrome would be speaking about it. Talk with your family, friends, and other people who may be suffering from symptoms of this syndrome. Speaking out loud and pointing out the elephant in the room to people who can relate proves to be an extremely therapeutic experience.  It could significantly reduce your anxieties. Knowing that you’re not alone in having these detrimental thoughts can help dramatically reduce the effects they have.

My personal favorite way to confront the effects of Imposter Syndrome is to laugh at the thoughts every time they enter your conscious mind. You can laugh in your head or even out loud if you wish. Laughing at these negative thoughts will help reduce their impact. Making them feel entirely inferior over time. In addition to helping combat these issues, laughter boasts a huge array of other benefits. Another huge benefit includes the release of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin.

Mental health and wellbeing are (thankfully) hot topics of discussion in this day and age. That’s why it’s so important to avoid bottling up how you’re feeling. Be as open and frank about your state of mind as you can. It will help you combat negative thinking patterns such as the ones made present by Imposter Syndrome.


Your Thoughts

For those of you who were unaware of this modern-day “syndrome”, I hope this article has helped to give you some insight into how it could be damaging your success as an entrepreneur. Hopefully, it helps give you a starting point to combat this extraneous psychological phenomenon.

Remember, you’re definitely not alone with this one! So if you have any experiences with Imposter Syndrome, how it affected you, and strategies you implemented to combat the symptoms, let us know in the comments section below. For some more positive inspiration and insights on being a successful entrepreneur, check out my previous post Why Entrepreneurs Must be Healthy.                                  

“The whole trick in life is to get so your own brain doesn’t mislead you” – Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.


Written by Lewis James