Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: A Tactical Guide To A Common Problem

On paper, you look great, you’re a business owner or hold an incredible role in your company, you’ve put in time into developing your skill and mastering your craft and you might even have made a bit of money too. While all those things are nice and important to have, you have something else that’s even more valuable. It’s the investment called you.

Finding ways to increase your value monetarily while doing the things you love may be the most important thing you do. Maybe you pursue more training to qualify for a raise. Maybe you find a way to turn your contracting into full-time work. Maybe you’ve started a company that employs people and is making serious cash and you’re looking to launch a new product. 

These things all involve doing something new for you, but when you head down this path, you start hitting this snag where you’re near the edge of your ability. Then, the voice inside your head may start saying things like:

 •  “I’m not qualified to be in this room and launch this”
 •  “Who is going to buy this from me and why would they?”
 •  “What makes you think you can actually achieve what you said you would?”
 •  “The people around me are going to see right through what I’m trying to do here and they’ll find out”

Welcome to Imposter Syndrome or when clinically defined by the American Psychology Association as Imposter Phenomenon:

“The situation in which highly accomplished, successful individuals paradoxically believe they are frauds who ultimately will fail and be unmasked as incompetent.”

This is something I’ve personally dealt with as I’ve levelled up time and again in my career. The first time was when I opened a gym the last time was this morning when I was about to head into a meeting with people far smarter than me.

In this article, I’m going to share with you the tools I use to navigate imposter syndrome that I’ve taken from my coaches and others out there who overcame this irrational but commonplace trait for all humans. 

1. It’s Normal & It Happens To The Best Of Us

Just like stress, anger, sadness, angst and frustration we all experience these things at different times and different intensities. The key point to realise here is that you’re normal and that just like other emotions that come and go so will this feeling of being imposter. 

One of my favourite discoveries involved the American author and poet Maya Angelou. She shared that, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

If you didn’t check out her Wikipedia page despite winning three Grammys and being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, this enormous talent still questioned her success every time she put pen to paper. 

The same can be said for Presidents and Prime Ministers (including our Prime Minister) of the world. Everyone is going to second guess themselves despite their past achievements but knowing literally some of the world’s top performers are facing this day in and day out makes the battle feel less onerous on my end.

When I’m feeling particularly worried I do this: 

1. Go to google and search “Imposter Syndrome” + “Favourtie author or business celebrity” 

2. I’ll then skim the results and read through how they have handled the situation themselves or read about the relative articles that come up when the two words are combined 

By doing this I’ll often pick something up to add to my “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Tool Kit”. I’ve done this for roughly six of my favourite authors, thinkers and idols and each time I’ve come away with a new perspective on the subject and possibly a new way to tackle it. 

2. Learn To Reduce The Emotions That Sway Us

I’ve been meditating for a while now as a way to reduce the emotional swings that come with trying to improve yourself. I’m at the point where I now have safely clocked up over 200 hours of actual meditation time. I can also tell you that for all the beneficial outcomes that have been scientifically shown for those who meditate I am still far from perfect.

 •  I still get pissed off at trivial things.
 •  I still get frustrated when I’m late for most things.
 •  I still get sad when I lose someone near to me.
 •  I still get anxiety and nerves when I’m about to try something for the first time.

What meditation has given me though is a way to observe those feelings as opposed to indulging then.

 •  When I get pissed off now I don’t stay angry for hours it is just a fleeting glimpse.
 •  When I get frustrated with being late I don’t madly rush anymore and cause myself further stress I just accept the fact and move forward.
 •  When I get sad now I don’t stay glum for days but now focus on the positives of when that person was alive.
 •  When I get anxious I now am able to observe my exhalation and calm myself.

Meditation is the practice of controlling your emotions for the better and this has been shown by the reduction in the size of the brains emotional reactive centre the amygdala.

This habit has significantly changed my life for the better. If you’re new to meditation my first impressions were that it’s a bit “woo-woo”, there was just no way I could see myself sitting for 10 – 20 minutes and being silent to listen to my “thoughts”. 

The way I overcame this was using the app Headspace. This is essentially guided meditation and is the gateway drug to better meditation software. Here is how I incorporate meditation into my days:

1. I have an iPad with the app installed so go install it if you don’t have a tablet just install it on your phone (the reason I use an iPad is that there is a chance I’ll start scrolling on social media so I just install on this device instead)

2. I then have my alarm set for 15 minutes before anyone else in the house is going to get up

3. The iPad is situated upstairs and set beside my kitchen bench which when I wake up every morning go upstairs to get a glass of water after using the toilet – my cue is to grab the iPad after finishing my water

4. I know I’m able to sit down for 15 minutes without distraction because I know I’m not going to be disturbed and it allows me to meditate 

Meditation has allowed me to navigate a lot of the ups and downs that come with being self-employed and employing others. I can honestly say that the biggest mental asset I’ve developed in the last four years is cultivating the ability to not be pulled around by my emotions. 

Imposter Syndrome is again the feelings that you’re not “enough”. I still will feel like I’m not enough and I’m nervous but these emotions are fleeting as opposed to crushing and meditation has been the tool that’s allowed me to navigate this.

3. Learn To Journal

This is a quote from Eugène Delacroix and one I’ve loved when reading about philosophy 

“My mind is continually occupied in useless scheming…They burn me up and lay my mind to waste. The enemy is within my gates. I am taking up my Journal again after a long break. I think it may be a way of calming this nervous excitement that has been worrying me for so long.”

That is what journaling is about, putting down the shitty thoughts on paper and trapping them there.  

We all carry around destructive thoughts. 

 •  About the things that went wrong
 •  The people who hurt us
 •  The mistakes or mistakes were yet to make that we’re embarrassed about 
 •  The promises we made and then broke, or that were made to us and then broken by those we trusted
 •  The love interest who had no interest 
 •  The business partner who screwed us over
 •  The feeling that we’re not enough or don’t deserve what we have

These things are cumulative and they’re a part of the narrative that is Imposter Syndrome. By simply capturing these things on paper we can ease the burden of carrying them around on repeat in our heads. 

Here is how to introduce journalling:

1. Buy any journal that has a 365 daily entry pages (here’s one I found on Amazon)

2. Literally write down whatever it is your feeling that is a negative emotion or simply an emotion that you don’t want that is circulating in your head on the paper 

3. Then place the name of one thing you want to do that day for someone else in your life – for me this looks like “Buy Leah flowers” or “Buy a cup of coffee for the person two spots in the line behind me and watch their surprise from a distance” 

This technique has saved me days of self-doubt and consternation because when I’ve captured it on paper it just doesn’t seem to be as big as a problem. The latter focus of doing something for someone else changes the self-talk of “me, me, me” to how can I be better for others. 

Remember at the start of the article how I mentioned that “you” as in who you are and what you learn is your most important asset, these techniques and tools are designed to make you a better you.  So have a go even if you’re not someone who is struggling because ultimately this will make you a better you regardless of your personal confidence. 

You can get more actionable ideas like this in our email newsletter. Each week,we share the frameworks, methods and mental models we've used to build multiple 7 figure businesses.

Leave a comment