Have you ever heard the term imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is when you tell yourself that you are faking, that you are not really good enough, that you’re not the person that should be providing that service or helping that person, and you should not be the ‘thing’ (whatever the ‘thing’ may be)
Imposter syndrome is something that you will be faced with quite regularly, especially as a conscientious person who cares deeply about both what you do and who you do it for.
Your circle is not the same as your customers
There will be people that you look to that provide a similar service, people that you look up to and respect, people that you look to learn from. And you may be wondering, “who am I to be offering this service and helping these people? I’m nothing but a fraud.”
Imposter syndrome is something that is, as previously mentioned, really common. However, it is only common among those people that actually give a shit, that actually care, that actually do worry about what they’re putting out in the world. Not because they’re scared about how they’re going to look, but because they’re concerned that it might not be good enough for the people that it’s intended to help.
It’s time to step back and think
If you are someone who is afflicted by imposter syndrome then there are a few things that you need to consider, a few things that you need to know and recognise.
First and foremost, a true imposter knows they’re an imposter. So they won’t be questioning themselves, they won’t be having that internal debate because they already know that they’re an imposter, that they’re a charlatan, a sham. And they’re okay with that. They are happy to con people out of their money, their time, and their energy,
But you are not. You are not a charlatan, you are not a sham. And you are, right now, questioning whether you should be taking these people’s money, whether you should be taking their time, whether you should be accepting the trust that they put in you. That right there, that alone should be enough to let you know that you are not an imposter.
You are not an imposter, you are a marvel
You are a conscientious and compassionate business owner, you are a good person who is trying to help people by providing a solution.
That is the most important thing to know about imposter syndrome. If you feel like you are an imposter, and you’re worried about that. Then you, my friend, are not an imposter because an imposter doesn’t care.
It’s all relative, baby!
The other important thing to recognise is the expertise is relative. There may be 100 different people that you know that do what you do. And they will all do so at different levels of expertise. The people that come to you, they’ve made a judgement call. They have looked at the market. They have found you. And they have decided that you are the person that A) can provide them with what they need. B), you are the sort of person that they are willing to get that solution from. And C) you are good enough.
An example of the levels of expertise
The expert, relative to me
A former client of mine from my web development days is a person who runs a model shop. They sell remote control cars, planes, helicopters, drones, you name it. This chap is an absolute expert in all things model related. He is the man to go to. If you have an issue with your RC car, your drone, your plane, or whatever, he can fix it. He can diagnose it, he can do some magic shit that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
I have purchased several remote control cars from him. To me, he is the expert.
One of my friends has taken a keen interest over the years in the remote control cars that I have bought. Because I have done some measure of study on the topic, partly due to the work that I did for the model shop and partly due to the fact that I now own several remote control cars. So I have what I deem to be a little bit of knowledge on the topic. I would not consider myself to be an expert.
The expert, relative to him
My friend that has taken a keen interest would deem me to be an expert because I know more than he does. And when he asked me a question I can answer that question or I can direct him towards an answer to that question. So for him, that’s more than good enough. That makes me the expert in that particular conversation.
He knows that there are many people in the world that know a great deal more about those things than I do. If I couldn’t answer the question for him, or provide the help that he needed then I would, of course, direct him towards one of those people.
The expert you need, not the imposter nobody wants
That doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t care, but there are people in the world that know more than I do. All he cares about is that when he comes to me with his question, I have an answer. I am expert enough for him. But that doesn’t make me some world-renowned expert in fact, far from it. It doesn’t make me qualified to fix his car if it breaks, it doesn’t make me qualified to make any specific recommendations about types of servo’s, batteries, and whatever.
But when he comes to me and he asked me, What are in the model car world, super basic questions I can answer those questions. I can answer those questions with confidence because I have that knowledge. I am expert enough in that scenario.
You are expert enough for your customers, despite your imposter syndrome
In those circumstances, when your client comes to you and asks you for your services, they are letting you know that you are expert enough for them.
There will be people in the world that know more about it than you do, and that’s fine. They don’t need to know more about it than you do at this point. They need to know what you know, they need you to help them. It doesn’t matter that someone else is way further along, It doesn’t matter that someone else has more knowledge, or more experience, because your client has come to you and you have what they need.
That coupled with the fact that they trust and like you mean that you are the expert that they need. They don’t need a person who knows more than you.
They need you
You might need the person that knows more than you, at some point you might need to learn from them, and so on. But your customer, they do not, they need you. They need your expertise, coupled with your personality, who you are, your ethics and so on.
That’s all that matters to them, expertise is a totally relative thing. Not being the most knowledgeable person on planet Earth does not make you an imposter. As long as you don’t claim to know things that you don’t know or aren’t able to find out, then you’re not an imposter.
A true imposter is deceitful
An imposter is someone that lies and pretends; you’re not a pretender, and you’re not lying. People are aware of what you know. They are aware of the level of your expertise, and they are aware of the fact that what you have is exactly what they need in their moment of need.
The only person that questions that, is you. Just like the only person that doubts that, is you. Your imposter syndrome is an internal voice. It is a measure of worry and anxiety, brought about by the comparisons you make between yourself and the people that you have surrounded yourself with on your journey.
Imposter syndrome is normal but you do need to overcome it
That is only natural because you have surrounded yourself with people that know more, that have done more, that have more experience, that has seen more and achieved more. Remember though, you have surrounded yourself with those people so that you can learn from them.
When your customers come to you, they’re not surrounded by those people, nor do they want to be. You’re the person that they need. If you immerse yourself in your customer’s world, you will be able to see that. And you will be able to understand that, compared to them, you are an expert.
Your customers need what you have, nothing more!
You know far more about your subject matter than they do. You know far more about your subject matter than they will ever need. They will come to you for a specific thing, a specific reason. And you will provide that service, you provide that knowledge, or provide that help, and you will do so with confidence because it is well within your capabilities. It is well within your remit.
You are not an imposter. And if you are feeling like you are. Just remember that a true imposter doesn’t care. And they lie, and they pretend that you do care, and you don’t lie, And you don’t pretend. That is the difference.
Overcoming imposter syndrome requires two things
Required element #1 for overcoming imposter syndrome – Resilience
To work through your imposter syndrome requires resilience. Not just to get through it the first time but to cope with the fact that it will continue to crop up throughout your career.
There will be times when something makes you question your worth, value, and skill. This is a normal occurrence but you need to have some measure of resilience to protect yourself from the negative impact that it can (and will) have on you.
Resilience is something I have previously written about, a post that can be found here https://mybizacademy.co.uk/resilience-for-entrepreneurs
Required element #2 for overcoming imposter syndrome – a support network
As a business owner, especially someone who operates solo, you need to have a solid network of people who support you. I’m not talking about teams, outsourcing, and so on (although those things do help too), what I am referring to is the people in your personal life that are willing to listen to and support you.
The people that love and care for you are the people that know you best. When you are being struck down by an imposter syndrome the people in your world are the ones most capable of helping you to lift yourself out of it.
These people, your support network, are what I like to call unofficial team members. They are an integral part of your world but are not employees of your business. I have written a post about your unofficial team members that is worth you taking a few minutes to read, you can find that here https://mybizacademy.co.uk/unofficial-team-members-supporters-and-encouragers
Sometimes we just need to talk to someone who can relate
If you are really struggling to overcome your imposter syndrome then head over to my company website and send me a message. We can have a chat and squash any belief you might have about you being an imposter and get you back on the road to confidence and success.
You can find the contact page of my company website here https://mikethebizguy.co.uk/Contact