Sooner or later every working professional -- including entrepreneurs at the top of their game -- may struggle with feelings of inadequacy or undeserved success in their role. Although it likely has no basis in reality, this kind of imposter syndrome makes it especially challenging to advance in your career as you will end up questioning and doubting every decision and action you make.
Sometimes, self-doubt can become so overwhelming that you may start sabotaging yourself so that reality matches how you feel inside. To help you overcome imposter syndrome before this happens, and keep you on a positive career path, these six entrepreneurs share their best advice below.
1. Realize we all experience the same thing
"Any ambitious person is going to encounter imposter syndrome at some point," says GEM Advertising partner and chief strategy officer Peter Kozodoy talking about the importance of accepting that this is a widespread issue among working professionals.
"Once I saw that literally every other ambitious person out there has gone through it, I was able to finally relax and assure myself that the feeling was perfectly normal," Kozodoy adds. "Seek out the stories of people you admire -- once you do, you'll learn that everyone experiences imposter syndrome, so it's nothing to worry about."
2. Practice daily positive affirmations
Impostor syndrome does not go away, Optimum7 co-founder and COO Duran Inci agrees: "You could make a hundred million dollars a year and feel like a fraud."
One way of fighting this issue is to replace the affirmations that call you a fraud with positive ones and repeat this practice on a daily basis. "Once a day, look into the mirror and say, 'I am a good business person/vice president/X' and specify your accomplishments," Inci advises. "This trains your brain to look at your success with pride rather than fear."
3. Focus on your accomplishments
Focusing on your success and accomplishments is crucial when it comes to overcoming imposter syndrome, thinks Klyn Elsbury, a leading high performance coach and keynote speaker. The first step is recognizing that you are much more than the part of you that feels like a fraud.
"When I experience imposter syndrome, I focus on my accomplishments and recognize that my work helps others," Elsbury explains. "By focusing on where I have succeeded, I notice that success is a part of me just as imposter syndrome is, and that realization that I both am and am not, deters emotions that don't serve my goals."
4. Focus on someone else
"When I feel this way, I'm focused on myself -- what will they think of me, how come I can't get this done, my work isn't up to par," says OptinMonster co-founder and president Thomas Griffin, explaining some of the questions and doubts he struggles with when experiencing imposter syndrome.
To get out of that situation, Griffin chooses to focus on helping others instead: "By trying to help someone else, it gets me out of my head and reminds me of what I do know and that I am good at something. Plus, I'm helping someone else overcome their obstacle."
5. Refute your thoughts in writing
Many times, a visual aid can help those affected by crippling self-doubt to regain their confidence. Putting your thoughts down in writing and seeing your logical arguments in black and white can be a highly effective solution, according to WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi.
"These thoughts are often irrational and based on unrealistic expectations -- for example, believing you can't be 'real' if your work isn't easy or natural," Balkhi adds. "The key is to sit down and rationally refute these thoughts."
6. Separate fact from fiction
"I overcame imposter syndrome by separating who I was and what I was capable of and what I thought I needed to be in order to be successful," Marquet Media, LLC founder Kristin Kimberly Marquet says, explaining the importance of grounding yourself in facts and reality to fight these feelings of inadequacy.
"After I learned what was real and what wasn't, this helped me put my qualifications in perspective and eliminate those thoughts. It took quite a bit of time, but this approach worked," Marquet concludes.