Transforming Impostor Syndrome: The Silent Ally in Your Entrepreneurial Journey
sent by Siddharth Anantharam | June 23, 2023
sent by Siddharth Anantharam
June 23, 2023
Who am I to be a Coach?
Who am I to be an Entrepreneur?
Who am I to be………..(insert your role)?
This has been an underlying theme behind most of my coaching conversations this past month. Including a recent conversation with myself – as I was hosting The Breakthrough Weekend – the first of its kind 3 day intensive designed to create shifts in how gamechanging entrepreneurs think about their life and business.
In the room was an entrepreneur who is reimagining the future of education, another who is reimagining the future of sustainable tourism and spaces, and a DJ who is creating music inspired by his own flow of life.
As I sat there in that room filled with some of the most brilliant, interesting people I know, I noticed my mind asking, “Who are you to create breakthroughs for this group of brilliant people? WTF am I doing here?”
As this voice crept in, I found my energy shifting and my level of presence and awareness dropping. And in that moment, I had to pause to really feel and process what was really happening inside me.
Some call this the voice of self doubt. Others refer to it as Impostor Syndrome.
And most people think that successful leaders and high achievers never experience this feeling of being an Impostor. But the truth is high achievers experience it more regularly than most others.
When you experience Impostor Syndrome, you feel like everything you have achieved is a result of luck, good timing or both. And that one day everyone will find out that it’s all BS.
At the back of your head is the fear, “What if everyone finds out that you don’t feel fully know what you are doing? Or that you don’t have it all figured it?”
As I sat there in the awareness of this floating inside me, I realized I was falling into the same myths and traps that I had coached some of the most high achieving entrepreneurs I know to avoid.
In this newsletter, I am breaking down 3 big myths about Impostor Syndrome that I had to break out of in that moment. My hope is that this post helps you deal with your inner impostor or to coach your best clients to move past it.
#Myth 1 - Experiencing Impostor Syndrome means I am not good enough right? Wrong!
Most people fall are fighting the fact Impostor Syndrome, without really understanding what it fully means.
When you feel like an Impostor, what’s really happening is that your CONFIDENCE to do something is most likely lower than your actual COMPETENCE to do it.
Impostor Syndrome = Your CONFIDENCE to do something < Your COMPETENCE to do it.
In other words, you rate yourself lower on your creativity, intelligence or ability to perform a particular skill than what others around you would rate you for that same skill. Either because you fear becoming arrogant, or because you are genuinely unaware.
And here’s the truth, surveys from the International Journal of Behavioural Science suggest that more than half of the people you know have felt like impostors at some point in their careers.
Impostor Syndrome is known to be even more pronounced amongst high achievers. Especially because they struggle to explain how and why they perform at the level that they do. They aren’t quite able to “put a finger on it” and so they attribute it to luck.
This is why feeling Impostor Syndrome can serve as a great reminder to do an honest assessment about your unique ability. Recognize your accomplishments and acknowledge the talent, dedication, and consistency that have contributed to your success. Take time to reflect on your achievements, both big and small, and appreciate the value you bring to your field. By embracing your competence, you build a solid foundation for confidence.
Coaching Tool – Reach out to family, close friends, colleagues and mentors / coaches to help them mirror back who you really are – especially your values, strengths and zones of genius. Here are 2 simple questions you can ask them:
#Myth 2 - Impostor Syndrome can be fully overcome right? Wrong!
So as a coach or a founder, the best way to overcome Impostor Syndrome is to become wildly successful at what you do right?. Nope.
The truth is you never fully overcome Impostor Syndrome, you just get better at managing it.
Launching your own startup or your own coaching business can be an overwhelming at first – you are creating a new product in a fairly new market with a limited or no team. Nothing about that combination instills confidence.
The uncertainty of building something new combined with being overwhelmed by the new skills that you are learning can impact your confidence. This is where it helps to build what organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls ‘Confident Humility’.
Confident Humility is having faith in your capability – believing in yourself to achieve a goal in the future while appreciating that you may not have the right tool or may not even be solving the right problem in the present moment.
Confident Humility is what helps us rethink our old knowledge and gain enough confidence to pursue new insights. It doesn’t stop you from feeling Impostor Syndrome – it just trains you to get better at managing it.
#Myth 3 - Feeling like an Impostor is terrible right? Wrong!
Feeling like an Impostor is mostly viewed as a bad thing because at its worst, it can create a continuous cycle of self doubt, crush your motivation and hold you back from going for what you believe in.
But what if you are better off with a moderate sense of doubt that Impostor Syndrome creates? What if underestimating yourself can actually serve you?
A survey conducted to study people who self identified as impostors actually revealed that it improved their performance. It made them work harder, work smarter and stay in learning mode for most of their life.
I am not surprised because I’ve realized that I’ve felt Impostor Syndrome most during the times in my life when I am creating a goal that is far bigger than what I am currently capable of doing. It’s made me a better learner by serving as a cue for me that I needed to improve either my tools or my thinking.
Today, I use Impostor Syndrome as my silent ally to know that I am heading in the right direction, working on something that matters to me and spending time with people who are more brilliant than me in their own rights. This constantly keeps me learning and growing and gives me the fuel to do more, try more and constantly become more.
What if you reframed the feeling of Impostor Syndrome in the same way for yourself?
or for your clients? What if you embraced the growth that comes from feeling like an Impostor?
How would your life and business be different?
Share your thoughts and comments in the thread below.