Calling time on Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome. It’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot these days, by even the most powerful women – but where did it all start and why?

My definition of imposter syndrome is the feeling that you’re not as smart as the next person, not as capable as everyone thinks you are, not deserving of admiration or respect, you feel inferior to your competition or like you simply don’t belong. And it’s rife!

The phrase ‘imposter syndrome’ can be heard ringing out through corporate hallways, entrepreneurial accelerators and networking meetings across the land. But why? Why do we all feel this way? Why are we all so scared to think highly of ourselves? My feeling is that it’s quite a British thing and it’s quite a female thing. We’re conditioned not to let our heads grow too big, not to allow our egos to inflate, not to become arrogant or cocky. But it’s having a disastrous effect and it’s holding us back from our potential. We’re doubting ourselves, lacking in confidence and (regardless of our achievements and evidence to the contrary) we just don’t believe in our own worth. 

The benefits of self-confidence are huge, both for the individual and for business. Self-confident people are more relaxed, more willing to share knowledge and insights, more willing to express and explore new ideas and hold themselves more accountable. A lack of self-confidence can ultimately lead to poor mental health.

Just last week, two women whom I greatly admire both publicly confessed to suffering from imposter syndrome. Recently, when I asked a room full of ambitious, dynamic female founders (at my monthly Edinburgh business club Simply Connect) to raise their hand if they felt they didn’t deserve to share their story because they hadn’t achieved much yet … every single hand in the room went up.

So I’d love to draw a line in the sand. I know it’s hard, I know it’s ‘not British’, I know it takes time, so let’s start today. 

Let’s say no to not feeling good enough, let’s silence the inner critic, let’s draw on our inner reserves and start believing in ourselves – and let’s admit it publicly. Let’s stop worrying about what other people think and work on what we think of ourselves. 

So how do we begin? Let’s simply start celebrating our successes, the small ones and the large. Take the time to notice our own, and others’, contributions, the clever ways we solve problems, offer valuable advice, demonstrate resilience, support each other … and start saying these things out loud. Let’s get vocal and start a positive ripple that will create waves of good feeling, success and even more achievements. 

We’re pretty damn amazing, we’re worth celebrating and the sooner we start the believe that, the sooner it will become true.

Join my free facebook group for female founders around the world Brilliant Business Builders where we welcome you in and encourage you to lift each other up and celebrate everyone’s achievements every single week.