Entrepreneurs are the life of the party. They’re the outgoing go-getters who know exactly where they want to go and how to get there. And they never have any doubts about their success. Ever.
Well, perhaps not quite. Of course some entrepreneurs are outgoing go-getters who don’t question their abilities. But there are also entrepreneurs who feel that they aren’t deserving of their success. In fact, these can also be outgoing go-getters: who would have guessed?
Entrepreneurs who struggle to come to terms with their success and feel as though they’re undeserving of it may be dealing with a case of imposter syndrome.
What is imposter syndrome?
The California Institute of Technology Counseling Center describes imposter syndrome as: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.”
Those with imposter syndrome believe they have faked their way into their current position, often putting their achievements down to luck. They often live in fear of being caught out as a fraud by peers, colleagues or the boss (if they have one).
High achievers are more likely to develop imposter syndrome, according to Psychology Today, which makes entrepreneurs particularly susceptible to these feelings.
How can it affect your business?
If this emotional state reflects yours, it can be damaging to not only your own mental health, but to your business.
For example, by being unable to recognise the impact of your own achievements there’s a possibility that your perception of others’ achievements is also be untrue.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you will undervalue the successes of your employees. In fact, those with imposter syndrome are more likely to overrate others’ accomplishments. This might not sound like a problem, but it can mean you aren’t pushing your employees enough in order for them to reach their full potential.
Entrepreneurs have the highest position in their own business, holding the most responsibility. While this is a prime position for those who want to be their own boss, it also means those with imposter syndrome are more likely to worry about failure, as there is a greater loss at stake.
This can mean these entrepreneurs are less likely to take risks that will benefit their company in the long run, putting their business at risk as a result.
How you can break the cycle of imposter syndrome
For those recognising these traits in themselves, there are ways you can break out of the imposter syndrome cycle.
Firstly, you have to be able to acknowledge the symptoms. When thoughts such as ‘that was just luck’, ‘they would have been more suited for this’ or ‘I’m a fraud’ run through your head, you should make a mental note that this isn’t your feeling, but a feeling created as a result of imposter syndrome.
By practising this, you’ll be more accepting of your own thoughts as this perspective will allow you clarity to view your own achievements in their reality.
Once you’ve mastered this step, you may then be ready to speak about these feelings with someone else, whether that’s a family member, a therapist or a friend. Being able to speak out about the issue will help you overcome its effect on your thought process.
Do you feel like your business success has been a fluke? Or do you believe you really deserve the credit you’re being given? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.