If you’ve ever stopped yourself from doing something you love because of feelings of inadequacy — you have imposter syndrome. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is a far too common trait in many entrepreneurs, despite everything they have achieved. I’ll admit – I’m not immune to it. There are times where I find myself asking questions like “who am I to do something like this?”
This is why I had to have Dr. Lisa Obré-Austin, a licensed psychologist and executive coach, on Her Life, By Design. She joins the podcast to share her expertise on overcoming imposter syndrome and other common mindset blocks.
How to Get Beyond Imposter Syndrome and Other Mindset Blocks
Identifying Imposter Syndrome
When I first started my business, I heard a little voice in the back of my head, saying “Christina, do you really think you can do this?” Even having proved the accomplishments that my past self set out to achieve, that voice still makes an appearance. What’s the deal?
Lisa describes imposter syndrome as “the experience — despite having the qualifications, and skills — that you’re constantly going to be found out as a fraud.” It is a self-crippling, self-sabotaging, mindset block that many highly-achieved and qualified people experience.
As a result, imposter syndrome makes the most competent people feel incompetent. Entrepreneurs often make up for it by overworking, over-functioning, and overproducing. On the more sinister side, Lisa explains how imposter syndrome causes people to self-sabotage. They do so to hide that they are a perceived imposter or to prove to themselves that they are a fraud.
People who suffer from imposter syndrome tend to qualify their achievements as if it never really belong to them. Lisa says thoughts around perfectionism, and the idea of all your accomplishments being a result of luck, mistake, or a relationship, and the inability to internalize and receive compliments are identifying factors of this mindset block.
Imposter Syndrome Happens to Everyone
As an entrepreneur, I know how frustrating imposter syndrome can be. It is one of the most common entrepreneurial roadblocks that many of us face. Even leading figures like Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama face imposter syndrome, too.
According to Lisa, the people who experience it the most are highly-achieved individuals. They diminish their success, erasing a lot of their experiences to become unqualified to be where they’re currently at. This happens when people have trouble internalizing all their achievements.
Understanding Where it Comes From
The seeds of imposter syndrome are sown long before your entrepreneurial journey. Lisa explains that imposter syndrome derives from early childhood experiences. Here are the 3 typical instances:
- The super-smart child who never had to work because of a special talent or skill.
Any time they had to work hard at something, it was proof they aren’t as intelligent as people may think.
- The child who had to work hard at everything if they wanted anything.
Their natural gifts and talents were never identified. They believe everything has to be laborious, not allowing themselves to see their gifts.
Lisa reminds listeners, “in order to be successful, you need to have a skill and you need to work hard. Those two are inextricably linked. Neither one of them takes away your natural talent or your ability to work hard. You need both.”
The third instance:
- Survivors or people who did not have a lot of adult support or influence.
They work hard just to make it through and survive. Oftentimes, these individuals feel like things may fall apart at any given moment.
Lisa digs deeper, discussing how these instances inform our imposter syndrome with listeners. She also exposes the different ways men and women manifest these behaviors in the episode.
Moving Beyond and Conquering Imposter Syndrome
Recognizing the unique ways imposter syndrome manifests and understanding the root of the issue is key to moving beyond it. Allowing this mindset block to stand in the way of your possibilities and dreams should never be an option. Lisa suggests to actively confront the behaviors in order to re-work the narrative. She challenges listeners to reflect on the ways in which they talk to themselves. Ask yourself, is this inner voice allowing you to show yourself in a less than average way?
“Your mind and body are listening. If you talk to yourself negatively, they’re hearing you and they’re responding in kind.” So remember to give yourself some grace.
A great way to do so is to speak to yourself as you would to a child or a friend. We’re our worst critics and we often speak to ourselves in extremely cruel ways.
Lisa advises listeners to take a beat and avoid the automatic response. Think about what you would tell a child if someone said something nasty to them. Chances are, you’ll be telling them to ignore the negative remarks and to believe in themselves.
Confronting Your Fears Around Failure
The fear of failure goes hand in hand with imposter syndrome. Fear stops many entrepreneurs in their tracks even before the process begins, so how do we move beyond this?
Lisa’s husband has a saying, “when you work as hard for yourself as you do for others, you’re going to be unstoppable.”
She acknowledges that “a lot of us with imposter syndrome often know how to work for others but working for ourselves is fraught with so much anxiety. We would trust ourselves to execute this for someone else, why would we not trust ourselves to execute this for us?”
The best way to deal with this is to explore what it is we’re really afraid of. “If you don’t understand what your fear is exactly, you can’t protect yourself in the ways that you need.” Let’s say the greatest fear regarding your business is going bankrupt. Recognizing that will allow you to create a safety net for yourself.
In the episode, Lisa walks listeners through the process of facing their fears. She shares how you can move beyond your fears by acknowledging and understanding them.
Failure is Part of the Entrepreneurial Journey
It’s hardly any secret that all successful entrepreneurs fail… a lot. The key is failing forward and learning from it.
Lisa has been in business for 15 years and has failed at a lot of things, but she takes each failure as a step forward.
“I can point to all the failures and what I did with it and how it changed my business.”
Accepting failure as an essential part of the journey will help you turn them into successes of their own.
“With the right framework, failure can be equal to success in a lot of ways,” Lisa advises, “there’s a lot more tolerance for mistake-making in the world than you realize, so you need to have tolerance for mistake-making in your life.”
Lisa guides listeners through the fear of failure in this episode. Tune in as she recommends tips and tools that’ll help you turn failures into successes.
Exposing the Mindset Blocks in Your Way
Building a business from the ground up is difficult enough on its own. Unfortunately, some of the major obstacles are set in place by the entrepreneur themselves.
Imposter syndrome, the fear of failure, constant judgment, competition, and comparison are common struggles we can all relate to.
Through her work and research, Lisa has become a leading expert in the field. She coaches entrepreneurs through imposter syndrome and the many mindset blocks they face on a daily basis.
Lisa is the co-author of “Own Your Greatness”, a proactive workbook that equips you with the skills and tools that you’ll be able to use on your entrepreneurial journey.
Tune into this episode of Her Life, By Design, as she shares some incredibly insightful information on how you can embrace these mindset blocks, even using them to your advantage.
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Dr. Orbé-Austin’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/drorbeaustin
The “Own Your Greatness” Course and Book: https://www.dynamictransitionsllp.com/imposter-syndrome/own-your-greatness-overcoming-imposter-syndrome/