You're at a networking event, and the often-dreaded question inevitably pops up. "So, what do…
When you win an award, or receive accolades for a job well done, how do you respond? Do you respond with a genuine “thank you” and acknowledge that you do, in fact, possess the skills and knowledge required to receive those accolades, or do you question why you’re receiving the award in the first place? If you respond with skepticism and doubt, you’re not alone in this reaction. What you are experiencing is something called “imposter syndrome”, and it affects a majority of the population.
As defined by Wikipedia, impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome, or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.
For those of us projecting a personal brand, imposter syndrome can rear its ugly head continually. It holds us back from sharing knowledge and wisdom, it cripples us when creating something to give to our community, and it can hamper your sales when you lose belief in your ability to serve and support your customer.
So what does Imposter Syndrome look like when developing your personal brand? Here is how it can manifest, and some tips to combat the syndrome and get back to believing that you have a service and message to share!
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome – Reframing your mindset
“I don’t think I’m worthy of having a personal brand.” I’ve heard this said, and quite frankly it breaks my heart. Let’s be clear and real, right now. Everyone is worthy of a personal brand. Not just celebrities and entrepreneurs. All of us deserve and have earned the right to an amplified personal brand. If you are a sales professional or intrepreneur (yes, this is a real word, and yes, as a sales professional you are an intrepreneur) you too are worthy of expressing your brand. In fact, this is the area of greatest opportunity for you as an intrepreneur, to set yourself apart from your competition!
“No one cares about my story.” You may have been privileged to hear the stories of those who overcame giganormous obstacles, and now you find yourself comparing your “molehill” to someone’s “mountain. The truth is, we all have life experiences and stories in which we learned and overcame obstacles. Your stories can encourage others, in fact, it may resonate better with others! As someone who has no designs to climbing Mount Everest, I can only apply the climber’s lessons to a certain extent. But if someone was to share their story on how they overcame daily distractions on the road to finishing a large project, now I’m all ears!
“Someone is already doing it.” My friend, here’s the truth bomb – you’re right. Someone IS already doing it. But that isn’t reason for you to stop. I heard it said once, “there are no unique messages, only unique messengers.” The same message can be delivered by 8 different people, and the recipient will hear 8 different things. As a mom to teenagers, I know this to be true. What I advise my son about nutrition as an athlete is interpreted differently than the same message delivered by his trainer. Yes, someone may already be doing it, but your community is waiting for YOU to do it. They’re waiting for YOU to deliver the goods in only the way you know how. There is no education that can be delivered by one cookie-cutter solution (not even cookie cutters…. look at the plethora of baking chefs, classes and courses).
“Someone is doing it better than me.” My friend, get ready for another truth bomb – you may be right here too. But “better” is subjective. Where you are in your story may be just the right place for someone following two steps behind you. You needn’t have the full picture to create a personal brand, you need only a 10% edge to give yourself permission to share your expertise and knowledge with the world. And once you take stock of your personality characteristics, you will quickly identify what areas of your life in which you have a 10% edge to share.
“I’m just making it up!” or “I’m full of bull….” Many of us will feel this when offering advice to others, especially when our advice is about a journey we were on and now we’re helping others follow in our footsteps, only more clearly. It may look like a checklist of things to do, or a direction that one should take, knowing that at times, you didn’t even follow the same exact path. At the time you experience it, it may not have followed a sequential step-by-step process, but now looking back and reflecting on your experience, you see the patterns emerging. This is the life experience and pattern that you can share, saving your community from the trials that you undertook to get to your finished product.
“My success is by sheer luck.” My friend, this one breaks my heart. When we start to see success, we often think that it was by luck or chance that we started to see success, and we negate all the great work we’ve done to reach this achievement. It wasn’t luck, it was hard work, in some cases really hard work. Don’t dismiss this to chance, but rather acknowledge that hard work does indeed pay off.
Overcoming imposter syndrome is a life-long process, my hope is that you also create mechanisms in your toolbox to call it out when it arrives, and know that you have a unique offering to give to your community.
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