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How to Overcome Your Imposter Syndrome in your Consulting Business

mindset mastery Jan 30, 2020

One of the most agonizing (and least talked about) experiences that keeps really smart people from building the consulting and coaching businesses of their dreams is the fear of not having what it takes. 

The fear might be not having what it takes to do the marketing and attract clients or even if they landed clients they wouldn't have the goods to back up whatever promises they made in their marketing.

This all-too-common fear is called Imposter Syndrome

The term was coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists, “referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’”

Imposter syndrome simply put is the worry that you have been "faking it" all of this time and you worry now with your own business you will be found out to be a fraud.

The impact of unacknowledged imposter syndrome fears is tremendous. This fear is the primary culprit behind procrastination on getting a business launched, resistance to creating a world-class website and being strategic about marketing and sales.

It's this fear that leads to chasing lower paying work or positioning oneself as a subcontractor or an extra "pair of hands."

And this fear is sneaky. It comes out with all types of logical excuses about money and ethics about marketing. The reality is those excuses are designed to hide the fear that if I actually land the client I want - I'll be caught that I don't know what I am talking about. 

Ready to transcend your imposter syndrome? Here are three ways to do just that:

1. Embrace its presence - it's a sign that you're a person of integrity.

People who struggle with imposter syndrome actually are the real deal. It's the people who don't have the goods to back up their promises that don't seem to suffer. So if you're struggling with this, it tells me something very important about you: You care very much about doing the right thing by the people that you serve. You are conscientious about making promises that you can and will deliver.

2. Transform your understanding of why you have the fear. 

You don't have the fear because you aren't seasoned, talented with a long track record of success. You have the fear because you are stepping outside of your comfort zone. You are moving into new realms of growth and your brain is alerting you to needing to learn something new that matches where you are going. 

But you are confusing it with questions about the value of where you have been.

If you have experience let's say as an operational leader who has guided teams to breakthrough sales and results and now are wanting to start a consulting business, you think your fear is that you don't know if your experience is valuable. But the fact is you and I both know it is. It's just that you may not know how to market yourself or deliver results as a consultant - both easily learnable skills that you can absolutely master. 

If you have been the one for years that leaders come to for advice and guidance on how to take their careers and lives to the next level and now you want to monetize this experience in a coaching business, you don't need certification after certification. You need to look forward at perhaps what skills you don't have and just shore those up and own the ones that you do have which is being an amazing listener and someone who can help others discover their own truths. 

Bottom line - imposter syndrome fear is an expression of the fear of the unknown and that you are actually skating on the edge of your comfort zone. Which is a VERY good thing for a growth-oriented, purpose-driven, high performer like you.

3. Talk it out but only with someone who can help you see the bigger picture.

If you are starting a business, you might find yourself in a community of others who want to achieve what you want and experience all the same type of fears. You have to be careful because if they haven't transcended their own fears they can make yours worse. And you can make theirs worse.

It is hard to turn your experience into your own business. It's extremely vulnerable to have a company that is all based on you and your wisdom (vs. hiding behind a company brand.) THIS is why so many truly talented and accomplished people sub-optimize their potential by hiding behind other more successful consultants as a sub-contractor or fictitious business names that makes it near impossible for a future client to figure out who you are and what you offer. 

It's the vulnerability of being seen and the unknown that you're struggling with.

Not that you don't have what it takes because you do.

I know you do. 

And you know you do, too.

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