“What were you thinking complicating your life like this?”
“Who do you think you are saying you can help entrepreneurs?”
“Why would anyone want to work with you?”
These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head when I started to consider shifting my coaching services from supporting expats in transition, to providing mindset coaching for entrepreneurs.
But the truth is, they’re also the same thoughts that ran through my head just this morning as I was taking a break from my workday to attend an online yoga class.
I put my mindfulness skills to use as much as I could throughout the class, gently drawing my attention away from those thoughts and back to the here and now. They most certainly didn’t disappear, but I also didn’t let them stop me from taking some much time away from my computer.
Somewhere between the sun salutations and lying on the mat in Shavasana, I remembered this blog you’re reading now. I’d been meaning to write it for weeks so I could share with all of you my experiences with imposter syndrome as I made a pivot with my coaching services.
It suddenly dawned on me what had been fueling my procrastination with sitting down to write it.
I wanted to tell you all about how I struggled with imposter syndrome in the past, not that I’m still struggling with it now.
As a business owner with a public presence, sometimes I think it’s wise to wait until you’re no longer struggling with something before you share it.
Otherwise, there’s the risk that you’ll be leaning on your audience for support that they shouldn’t need to give you. Or that you’ll share things you’ll later regret once you’ve had time to process and digest.
However, when it comes to imposter syndrome I don’t think that’s the case.
One of the most helpful things I’ve found for dealing with imposter syndrome is accepting that it may never go away.
I spent a lot of years of my life feeling ashamed for feeling like a fraud, for having imposter syndrome sort of thoughts. For me, a huge game changer was when I finally gave myself the freedom to feel the imposter syndrome thoughts, and instead shifted my focus to making sure these thoughts weren’t holding me back from doing important things.
And one important thing to me is sharing regular content with my audience, including this blog post, so here I am sitting down to type with imposter syndrome by my side. Also, one of the best ways to combat imposter syndrome is to shine some light on it.
So here it goes…
Shining a light on my own experience with Imposter Syndrome as an Entrepreneur
When I was deciding whether or not to pivot my coaching services, it took me a while to realize that imposter syndrome was lurking. For quite a while I just simply thought “this is not a good idea.”
While reflecting on the idea I came across something I’d posted in a Facebook group for coaches three years ago where I first shared the idea of my pivot. In the comments a coach who I know and respect a lot told me she didn’t think it was a good idea.
When I came across that comment again last year, I started to wonder if my doubts were not a case not of imposter syndrome, but my inner wisdom saying “Run away! Run away!” (I should have known better because my inner wisdom always talks in a calm voice, not a panicked one!)
I decided to do some more digging.
First, I told my husband about my confusion. Sometimes when I reach out to him for help with business-related things, he is a great sounding board, other times (like when I ask him to help me with technology stuff or marketing ideas) we just end up fighting and I remember why we are not in business together.
Thankfully, this turned out to be the former situation. I explained to him how I was feeling.
He responded immediately saying, “That is definitely imposter syndrome.”
I trust his perspective because he has been an entrepreneur himself and is also quite open about his own struggles with imposter syndrome. He knows firsthand what it feels like and just how sneaky it can be.
Reframing Imposter Syndrome as “Growing Pains”
My suspicions that imposter syndrome was lurking were further confirmed when I listened to a podcast by another coach who is doing mindset work for entrepreneurs and she spoke about how imposter syndrome is inevitable every time you embark on something new in your business.
Her description of these as “growing pains” really resonated with what I was going through, and what I’d seen my clients experience whenever they were experiencing imposter syndrome too.
People talk a lot about how great it is to step outside of your comfort zone, but there’s not enough talk about how our brain’s want us to stay inside that comfort zone. I like to think of the comfort zone as “the safety zone” and our brains are designed to make sure we stay safe. When we step out into unchartered territory and grow or change something in our business our brain’s response is to say – “Run away!”
It may even do some gymnastics to try to trick you into getting back into your comfort zone. Telling you things like “You’re not ready,” “That’s a bad idea,” or “Who do you think you are to do such a thing?”
Those phrases might sound familiar because they are the exact words imposter syndrome uses to talk to us! It’s painful to hear that stuff, but if you reframe it as a natural part of the growing process (and not proof you’re headed in the wrong direction), it can really help you to feel more comfortable – even when you’re outside of your comfort zone.
This all also helps explain why I’m still facing imposter syndrome – this pivot with my business is still very new and there is still a great deal of unchartered territory to wade through (aka fertile ground for imposter syndrome!).
Another thing that really helped me deal with my own imposter was taking a hard look at the facts.
One way I did this was by conducting some market research so I could make sure that what I was envisioning was something people wanted (the answer was yes!).
The other was to recall all of the clients I have helped over the years who are entrepreneurs. When I did this I realized that imposter syndrome was coming up not so much because I doubted my abilities, but because by doing this company pivot, I am putting myself in a vulnerable situation by sharing what I really desire.
For many years I secretly whispered, “I sure hope my next new client is both an expat AND an entrepreneur…” Instead, I am saying, “Hello world, bring on the entrepreneurs because they are the clients who I can best support!”
Telling the world what you want is scary!
But so is spending years of your life wondering what life would have been like if you hadn’t let imposter syndrome hold you back.
So, now that I’ve shared my own experience with imposter syndrome in my life and business, I have some questions for you–
Where is imposter syndrome holding you back right now?
And how could things be different in your life and business if it wasn’t?
If you’re like to chat these questions through, book a free 45-minute call with me so we can explore where you’re stuck and discuss how my coaching program can help you to overcome imposter syndrome so that it’s not holding you back from taking action in your own business.