Impostor. Let’s start with the simple definition. Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
The first time I heard her speak at a UPS conference in Dallas, Texas I thought she was talking directly to me. This powerful real estate mogul told us of a time when she had been called in to visit with another powerful business executive in New York City. The entire ride up the elevator she was thinking to herself. “What on earth am I doing here?” She felt like an impostor.
Have you ever felt like you were an impostor as you spoke in front of a group about your small business? Or as you told your team what their next goal should be? Or as you sat at coffee with someone who had asked you for business advice? After hearing this woman’s story, I knew I wasn’t alone in these feelings. If she (one of the most well-known women in business) felt this way, then there had to be hundreds of us that felt like we didn’t belong in the forefront of conversations about our businesses.
This had me thinking. Why do we feel so unworthy when it comes to talking about our business? After all, we run everything day to day, we make the plans, set the goals, know the numbers, build the dream and employee the people. We are the ones that make the sacrifices to put business over family and sometimes work over our own comfort. Why then should we feel like we don’t belong? I believe this feeling goes deep into the heart of our stories. As business owners we all fail. Every day we make mistakes. Each year while we achieve great things, we fall short of other goals we have set for ourselves. Instead of owning those mistakes and choosing to turn them into lessons learned we feel like we have to hide them, push them aside and only focus on the perceived “wins”. But what if we changed that mentality? What of instead of hiding our “losses” or burying our “mistakes” we chose to claim them as our story! What of instead of feeling like an impostor, we chose to share the lessons we have we learned so others can feel more confident in their business journey?
Next time you are called onto a stage full of men and women who seem to have a much higher position or much more glamorous title than yours, or next time a new start up business asks you out for coffee, remember that your story is your own. Hold your head high and realize that every business battle scar has won you a seat at the table!