In an earlier post I wrote about how a single thought (Who am I to run a successful fashion business?) had me busting my buns and getting nowhere fast.
This question (who am I to…?) is one of the hallmark indicators of the impostor syndrome according to author and educator Valerie Young*. This is when successful, competent people don’t ever seem to feel competent enough or don’t feel entirely deserving of their success. They don’t own their achievements, their smarts, or their talents.
When congratulated or complimented, impostors will often say or think:
- I was just in the right place at the right time. I was lucky.
- I just work harder than the rest.
- If I can do it, anyone can do it.
- I fooled them again. If they only knew!
- It was only because they liked me. They went easy on me.
As it turns out, being an impostor is hardly an exclusive club. According to Ms. Young, approximately 70% of us feel this way at some point or another.
Impostors are much less willing to take ownership of their success while overly internalizing every mistake, agonizing over every little thing they could have done better. They hold on to the negative and be overly dismissive of the positive, flogging themselves in the pursuit of always doing their best.
There is a dark side to feeling like a fake. There are undercurrents of
- fear (of being found out, of truly not being good enough),
- guilt over perceived imperfections, incompetency and failings (I could have done better, I should have said this), and
- shame (ashamed of perceived inadequacy, at having fooled people)
These are powerful emotions that can wreak havoc on not only your confidence levels but also can be the source of why you’re succeeding, but not nearly to the level you’re capable of (as I experienced).
I’ll touch on this topic in future posts if it resonates with you. Let me know if you’ve ever felt this way and what your tools and tricks to overcome it. I’d be honored if you’d share your comments below.
To your success,
Founder, Front Room
More than clothes, confidence.™
*Sources: Valerie Young, my notes from her keynote speech to Alberta Women Entrepreneur Conference May 2014; and her book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” Crown Business, 2011.