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How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

If you have ever felt that regardless of your achievements, you didn’t deserve to make all that progress, then you experienced what is called imposter syndrome. This condition normally strikes when you try to get out of your comfort zone, such as when you are hired by your first coaching client. The feeling of self-doubt can paralyze you and even make you shift into self-sabotage gear (canceling the coaching appointment, etc.). Imposter syndrome can stand in the way of your success as a coach, so it is important for you to do what is necessary to deal with this feeling each time it manifests. The following measures can help you to deal with imposter syndrome.

Acknowledge Your Fear

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is by acknowledging what you are fearing. Research indicates that seven in ten Americans have ever experienced imposter syndrome, so there is no shame in putting a label on what you feel.

The moment you put a tag on this feeling, you free your mind to deal with the situation logically rather than emotionally. By acknowledging imposter syndrome for what it is, you put yourself back in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Related: How Words Can Change Your Brain

Identify the Truth

What you feel and what the reality is may be totally different things. For example, the feeling that you didn’t deserve to get the coach certification in record time doesn’t mean that you cheated your way through the program.

As you feel like a fraud, think about the situation and unearth the truth behind it. For instance, think back to the long hours of study that you invested in the coach training program in order to complete it at the top of your class. That alone is proof that you did what was necessary to succeed and that it wasn’t a fluke.

Every time you develop imposter syndrome, acknowledge it and realize the truth about the situation. This habit will enable you to overcome that feeling quickly, and you will use the same techniques to help your coaching clients to fight this silent monster.

Confide in Someone

Another helpful way to deal with imposter syndrome is by opening up to someone about how you feel. Remember, 70 percent of all Americans experience this from time to time, so you aren’t alone.

Pick someone you trust, such as a coach, a mentor or a trusted colleague and share with them how you feel at the moment. The coach will help you to look within and discover that you deserve all the success that you are currently enjoying and that you are qualified to take that big step before you right now. 

In the same vein, a mentor will open up about how they were in a similar situation and that mentor will share the steps that he or she took to overcome that imposter syndrome.

A trusted colleague is also likely to open up about situations when he or she also felt imposter syndrome creep up and how the situation was resolved. The saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” will come to life as you will borrow the coping strategies that the person you confide in used or is aware of.

See Imposter Syndrome as an Opportunity

When life gives you lemons, don’t hesitate to make lemonade! A fantastic way to overcome imposter syndrome lies in recognizing it as an opportunity for you to move forward and rise higher. How?

As already mentioned, imposter syndrome rears its ugly head when you are placed in uncomfortable situations, such as when taking on a new responsibility or a bigger challenge. In such a case, sit back and think about what exactly about that situation is causing you to feel unqualified or a fraud. If it is a kind of intimidation about working with a celebrity as a coaching client or starting your assignment as a newly hired coach for a Fortune 500 company, take note of the details of your uncertainty and regard those points as areas for growth that you need to work upon. An example may include mentally preparing to talk to high-flying company executives when you were used to handling less prominent clients.

When you identify areas for growth each time you feel imposter syndrome coming on, you will be firmly on your way to fixing any gaps in your skillset or competencies, if such gaps indeed exist. This is in no way intended to justify your feeling of being a fraud, but it just serves as a way for you to pinpoint any aspects that you need to improve upon so that your success as a coach can be guaranteed going forward.

Set Realistic Goals

The thing about imposter syndrome is that it drives its sufferers to push themselves insanely hard in a bid to avoid being “unmasked” for the fraud that they think they are. Unfortunately, this push to do more can result in taking on more than you can handle, and then that feeling of inadequacy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Avoid walking down that path of pushing yourself to attain unbelievable outcomes. Instead, set for yourself goals that are within your ability to achieve. For example, rather than setting a target of growing your coaching business to a six-figure one within three months, why not aim to  double the number of your clients each month so that the tangible progress that you make boosts your confidence and proves that you are worthy of all the accolades that you are getting?

The shot of confidence that you get each time you attain a goal will lift you higher and you will start feeling that you qualify and even deserve to take bigger steps in your career as a coach.

Visualize Success

The bout of imposter syndrome that you are currently feeling may be arising out of a negative thought that you have about your competence. What better way to vanquish that feeling than by holding a positive thought and visualizing yourself succeeding at the task that you are about to undertake?

Imposter syndrome will hold you back from moving forward, so you are better off replacing it with positive feeling and images of your success. The army teaches special ops operatives to visualize the perfect execution of a mission long before it happens, and elite athletes visualize their top performance before competition day. Learn from these elite performers and kick your imposter syndrome to the curb by visualizing your success each time you step out of your comfort zone.

It is important for you to realize that imposter syndrome will not go away just because you have gained some experience as a coach. Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein and many other great achievers struggled with it, so you should expect it to manifest from time to time in different aspects of your life. Keep refining your coping mechanisms and you will soon be a master of exorcising imposter syndrome as soon as it shows up!

To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins and Team PCU

Ready to level up your coaching and leadership game? Want to make a big impact in the lives of others? Add more power to your purpose with our 12-week online Performance Coach certification course. Apply here: Course overview & Application!