The Imposter Syndrome: What Does it Mean? How to recognize it, treat it and move through it.
We all have our good and bad days, but being your own boss can really be challenging as you don’t have a manager to point the finger at when things get tough. You have to be able to face all demons that come up, all insecurities that come along the way, so you don’t stay stuck but move your business forward. One of the main things that come up when growing your business is the Imposter Syndrome. Feeling like a fraud, a fake, ready to be "caught" at any time. But there's a cure. In this blog I'm going to help you with tips on how to battle this Gremlin of a feeling and show you how you can embrace it to help yourself and your business thrive even more.
My Own Gremlin Week
Last week was hell for me: migraine. An all-paralyzing migraine. I had to move work stuff around, manage home with the kids, and just felt like I was in survival mode.
I also felt like I was letting down you, my coaching clients and my online audience. But I kept going the best that I could, because I didn’t want let you down, and I didn’t want to let myself down. Thank goodness, I got help from unexpected corners. And that really gave me hope. That we can lift each other and help each other thrive.
I'm Not The Best
You see, I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best at what I do: coaching. That has never been my intention. I simply LOVE helping others, especially photographers. Because it fuels my inner drive of why I stepped into this coaching role. And I also want to show you that when things get tough, giving up is not an option.
The fact is that, no matter where you are in your journey as a business owner, there will ALWAYS be hurdles. They may be far or near, but the fact that they exist, can’t be denied. So, maybe today we can take a closer look at those hurdles and how you can prepare for dealing with them.
Feeling Like An Imposter
One of the main hurdles my coaching clients bring to the table is feeling like an imposter. They feel like it’s not in their place to be successful, earn a lot of money with their craft, or stand in the spotlight.
This is what I call one of the many Gremlins that rear their ugly heads when we are on a journey of transforming our lives and our businesses. It is called the Imposter Syndrome.
I have had a severe case of an Imposter Attack this week when I watched the press conference on tv, and I realized that my studio had to stay closed for a long time. “How was I going to survive?” I thought. And immediately the thought came to mind: "What if I fail? What kind of Photographers Coach does this make me? Am I the right person to “teach” and “help” other photographers?"
Facts: The Imposter Syndrome Affects Everyone Of Us
We ALL suffer from feeling inadequate, sometimes even the most experienced teachers in the world. All worldwide known geniuses like Mozart, Einstein, suffered from feeling like an imposter.
What Are The Symptoms Of This Syndrome And What Does It Feel Like?
- Feeling inadequate
- Worry that you will not live up to expectations
- Feeling someone will catch onto you, exposing you
- Feeling like a fraud (it's also called the "Fraud Syndrome")
You must know that growing as an entrepreneur, as a human being, you get really good at certain things. You call this your niche. But as this niche evolves, you are developing a magnifying glass for your work that lets you see only the weak spots in your work, all the things you did wrong, all the blemishes get highlighted.
But you must understand that this is normal human behavior. Like I said, we ALL suffer from feeling not good enough. I do too!
By realizing this we can also flip the perspective on the syndrome and call it a GIFT. Feeling like an imposter is a sign of something shifting, evolving, growing in a new direction. I could even put it in a stronger way: without the Imposter Syndrome, you would not be growing OUT of your comfort zone and improving our businesses.
Some Tips To Handle Imposter Syndrome
Each time your business and or your mindset grow you peel off another layer of the onion. Some say: another level, another devil. And that’s true. When you grow you step outside of your existing comfort zone, this syndrome comes to the stage. ALWAYS! Your emotions take you for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster and tell you to stay where you are, stay safe, you aren’t good enough. They can even go full Dooms Day on you and have you question everything you have done, turn back everything into its original state, staying low and putting your business on hold. “Who am I?”, “Why am I capable?”, “What am I doing?”, Why am I doing this?” And the list of doubts raging through your head goes on and on.
I’ve had coaching clients go through emotions of feeling undeserving of their success. And I’m not talking about the success in their dreams, but the success they have already obtained. Some people sabotage their success, because of the Imposter Syndrome. I know I have in the past.
And the funny thing is that you KNOW you can excel at your work, creating gorgeous art work. But you keep doubting yourself. If you need help with Overwhelm, here is an article that might help you.
What Are The Options?
Well, you can stop, give up, or give in to those emotions… or you can go on the offensive... Read this article if you want to learn how to move through fear.
What Can You Do To Battle Imposter Syndrome?
Take an objective look at what you’ve done so far. Make a list of all your accomplishments. What steps have you taken? What choices have you made? How many hours have you put in to become this expert? How many times have you felt like giving up, but you actually pushed through? You see, from what cloth you are made? You are one tough cookie to deal with. Because you have determination and an inner drive that no-one can take away from you. You have put in the work. So own that!
Are you someone who gets a compliment and then immediately bends it into something less valuable? When someone praises you on your hard work? Do you accept these good words and actually resonate with that inner feeling of having put in the hard work?
Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Yes, you can acknowledge yourself. This isn’t about being selfish or egotistical. This is certainly not about you being better than everyone else. Hell, I’m not even the best. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about me helping others forwards in my own way, in my own little universe. And then they, in their turn, will be able to move forward too. We are all small links in one bigger chain. It’s about paying it forward.
If I, as a coach, and you as a photographer, can help others and bring them to the next level (not the top!), but to the next level, then our skill set has its own value. I for example feel really proud when my students/coaching clients outgrow me, spread their wings and leave the coaching nest. That means I’ve done my job. Read Lieselot's testimonial here for example.
Let me say it like this:
You Will Never Ever Have To Be The Best At What You Do In Order To Help Others.
Your experience, knowledge, skillset can help them along the way. You ideal client is someone that looks like you a few years ago. You will help them with the same problems you faced yourself a while back, you know what solutions they are looking for. So you can guide them. You are their perfect teacher.
Your businesses and your unique voice, passion and experience can serve your clients. And you deserve credit for that.
Accept that you don’t have to be the best, but that you will become pretty darn good at what it is that you do.
Your Fears And Doubts Will Never Go Away: And That's A Gift!
Every time you experience inner development, business growth, mindset shifts, the Desperate Daves (that what I call my doubts) will creep back in and try to keep you safe. But invite them in. Think big, so they will come! See them as a major compliment for your hard work. Shine a light on all those negative talks your own Desperate Dave whispers in your ears and thank him. Thank him for guiding you in the right direction. The direction of growth, with the HELP of your negative feelings.
We all deserve it, we are all capable of it. If I can do it, then you can do it. If I, a mom of 2, working parttime, having no degree or whatsoever in photography, having no business degree of any kind, can do it, then you can do it too. In your own authentic, artistic and unique way. That is what I’m certain of. Stepping into your zone of genius is a gift to the world and it would be such a shame for you to not share it with others to help them grow.
This time especially is the perfect moment for you to reflect on how you can move through your doubts and fears and serve others.
If you think you need help with moving your photography business forward please let me know. You can book a discovery call with me to find out what strategy could help you develop and ENJOY the photography business of your dreams.
Want to talk with fellow photographers about this? Come and join my Thriving Photographers Crew on Facebook.
(Psst, you can pin this article to your “Marketing for Photographers” board on Pinterest!)