I’m so bad at this.
Everyone else is much better at this than I am.
I’m never going to make any money.
My writing sucks!
I just don’t have the skills for this.
Have you ever had those sorts of thoughts? I know I have. In fact I still have them pretty much every day.
Did you know though that this isn’t just you doubting yourself, it has a name: the Imposter Syndrome.
What is the Imposter Syndrome?
This is a psychological condition defined by a couple of clinical psychologists called Dr Pauline R Clance and Suzanne A Imes all the way back in 1978.
What it means is that even though you might be successful already (or not) you have the self-doubt that you’re not good enough and a fraud and that at any moment you will be found out.
It’s not just you!
I was at a conference recently where a speaker, Sonja Leix, talked about the Imposter Syndrome.
The most powerful thing that I took away from this talk was when she asked the audience of hundreds of people if they have ever felt this way.
Then 80 to 90% of the audience, including me, raised their hands. It was a powerful moment, to realise that most people feel the way that I do.
This simply affirms that we all self-doubt and wonder whether we are good enough in what we do.
Marketing makes it worse
When you learn how to make money online through internet marketing, there’s one major rule: take action.
This is a great rule, because it truly does separate the wheat from the chaff. By not taking action you simply won’t get anywhere.
Another unwritten rule is: fake it till you make it.
You’ll hear that rule from a lot of different corners in this profession. For some people it works, however it’s not always the best advice. It’s used though to perhaps give people a sense of just going ahead and taking action.
Even if you don’t fake it till you make it, you’re bound to have thoughts about giving up because you’re not good enough. Add in that mantra and it makes it 10 times worse.
Why is it a bad thing?
Self-doubt in any form can really ruin you. Combined with the fact that you want to start your own business and career? It’s a recipe for disaster.
Continually thinking you’re not good enough will stop you from taking action:
- You’ll stop researching
- You’ll stop writing
- You’ll stop taking risks
- You’ll stop trying!
All because you don’t think you’re good enough to succeed.
Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome
Knowing that a vast majority of people in different fields feel the same way and knowing that the marketing industry can and does make it worse, how can you overcome it?
You never will, not completely.
It’s more than likely that if you have these sorts of thoughts, you always will. However, it can be managed.
There are ways that you can confirm and re-affirm that what you are doing is good, great and amazing!
Be aware of negative thoughts
Whenever you try to change something about yourself, awareness is the first key to it. Realizing you’re having these negative thoughts means you can squash them then and there in order to continue on with your day in a positive light.
Don’t look for perfection
I don’t know about you, but I look to make everything as perfect as possible, then fail and then blame myself for that.
Accepting that perfection is a dream and that whatever we do can’t stand up to our preconceptions can help ease the imposter in your ear.
Keep faking it
This won’t work for everyone, but keep faking it! Repetition of anything can help you learn something, and the same thing happens with mantras. Reaffirming that you are a success and you are good enough for this will eventually make you believe it, thus easing this problem.
You’re not lucky – accept your successes
The worst thing about the Imposter Syndrome is when you have a real and valid success and you put it down to it being luck or a fluke.
It was you doing something so well that it was successful. Own this success.
We all fail – reframe your failures
Successes are amazing, even if we sometimes fail to accept them.
Failures though? Yeah the Imposter feeds on failures, spinning the negative thoughts in your head at 100 mph and bringing you so low.
When failure strikes you need to be strong and accept those failures. Not only that but you have to, you simply must dissect those failures to find out what went wrong and why. Not only should you do that, but you should find out what went right and why.
A failure is rarely something going 100% wrong, but usually it’s a knock on effect of many small things, or simply just bad timing.
Forget about the big boys (and girls)
There are so many people in this industry that tout their success, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What this means is that a lot of people see a figure in the community and look up to them.
It’s a great thing to respect and admire someone, but the Imposter Syndrome twists this.
What happens is that you start to look at the person’s successes and achievements and compare them, not to your successes, but to your failures!
This skewed logic is highly counterproductive and can hasten the spiral down to negativity.
You have to remember that, and this is especially so on the internet, we all put forward our best public face, our best successes and achievements.
No one really goes on Facebook and says “hey I lost a client today because I made an error”. No, we quietly go past that, but if we have a success we announce it to the world.
Keep admiring people, keep looking to them for inspiration, but just remember that they too have failures and issues and problems and doubts. They are after all only human.
Find a community
Perhaps the biggest contributor to pushing your Imposter down and locking it away, is to find yourself a community.
When I was in the wilds of internet marketing, failing and losing money, I came across Wealthy Affiliate.
It was only by having access to your peers, to share success, and failures, to bounce ideas and thoughts off can you really get a sense of your own skills and achievements.
There’s a moment that is just amazing, when you realize that actually yes you do know what you’re talking about because you’re helping a member of the community and others are saying, “yeah, what he/she said is absolutely right”.
You won’t get that without a community.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone suffers from this condition, but enough do to perhaps say that it’s just part of being human.
Knowing what it is that’s causing these self-doubts is perhaps enough to realize that yes, you are good at what you do and yes you can succeed.
That, combined with a decent community of like-minded people is maybe just enough to control this demon, even if you can never truly get rid of him.