The more successful my business gets, the more often I feel like a fraud and have the idea that I don’t deserve it. These feelings are known as the imposter syndrome and aren’t just for entrepreneurs.
The imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don’t deserve your success. It convinces you that you’re not as intelligent, creative or talented as you may seem. It is a psychological pattern in which you doubt your accomplishments and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite external evidence of competence.
An estimated 70% of people experience these imposter feelings at some point in their lives.
Scientists have defined five archetypes:
- The “Perfectionist”: Setting excessively high goals for themselves and experiencing major self-doubt when they fail.
- The “Superhuman”: Pushing themselves to work harder than those around them to prove that they’re not imposters.
- The “Natural genius”: Feeling they aren’t good enough when they have to work hard to accomplish something.
- The “Soloist”: Wanting to accomplish tasks on their own and thinking they are failing if they need to ask for help.
- The “Expert”: Feeling the need to know every piece of information before they start a project and constantly look to improve their skills.
I think I’m a combination of the first and last one.
Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance first studied imposterism, and developed a test to find out of it to what extend you are suffering the imposter syndrome.
If your score is higher than 40, you are experiencing imposter syndrome, and that’s very normal. Calling it a syndrome actually downplays how universal it is.
One of the first steps to combat imposter feelings is to acknowledge the thoughts and put them in perspective, getting aware of the existence of the phenomenon. You can document positive feedback and revisit it every time you’re feeling like a fraud.
For my photo business, the amount of positive reviews I get and the high Net Promoter Score helps me realise I’m building something people really value.
Likewise, for every single blog I publish I’m experiencing this feeling as if the information is inadequate, but the positive comments I receive are helping me getting out of it.
Imposter syndrome is wild because you don't even feel deserving of the victories you've already secured.
— M A S H 🚀 (@Mashstartup) June 14, 2020