Being a Boss When You Feel Like a Fraud

Living the Life

Being a Boss When You Feel Like a Fraud

Sep 13, 2016 | Living the Life

Being a Boss When You Feel Like a Fraud

Sep 13, 2016 | Living the Life

This is a guest post from Amy K. Harbison, CPCC, ACC.Amy Harbison professional coach

Does this sound familiar?

You’ve just become a Solo PR pro. You’re initially exhilarated. You’re good at what you do and you’re ready to work for yourself.

The euphoria starts strong, then it evaporates. Your enthusiasm is replaced with a nagging, relentless voice in your head that chips at your satisfaction, and erodes your confidence.  The voice might tell you many things, such as “I’ve never owned my own business. I can’t do this! I’m out of my comfort zone. I’ll be found out.”  Your heart races; and there’s a bit of a butterfly bash going on in the pit of your stomach. You feel a bit wobbly-kneed.

Sound familiar? Six years ago, it happened to me. I became a communications consultant after my position was eliminated during the economic downturn.  When I got my first client, I was thrilled. “I’m on my way!,” I remember thinking. “I’ve got this!” Yet when I had my first meeting as a consultant, I was  swallowed up by self-doubt.  Even though I had more than twenty years of communications experience working with organizations of all sizes, I was flooded with feelings of inadequacy. I imagined my new client looking at me in our first meeting, and all they would see was a bright orange neon light flashing FRAUD!

If you have experienced this before, welcome to the club. The Imposter Syndrome (yes, this is actually “a thing!”) is common for professionals, and is a collection of feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true.  You may have it if you have the following characteristics: trouble accepting praise, discount your contribution and your success, have a fear of failure mixed with anxiety about success, you compare yourself to others, you focus on what you haven’t accomplished instead of your accomplishments. You feel, quite simply, that you are NOT ENOUGH.  

There are three ways to start, with baby steps, to tackle and tame the imposter syndrome. Like any learned behavior, it’s a process and starts with our own self-awareness:

Own your own successes. Keep a list of accomplishments. Keep nice emails, performance evaluations, testimonials, somewhere that you can review every few months. This is evidence of your accomplishments. Realize that your work is not a result of luck; this is skill. Own your expertise.

Practice powerful posing. Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy has one of the most viewed TED talks about how the postures we take can help change our neuropathways in the brain, not only changing the way others see us but also changing our brain chemistry! When people close up, they feel powerless and close up from others. When we take a power pose, standing tall, feet firmly on the floor, arms raised, we feel more powerful; our Cortisol  (stress hormone) levels drop.

Find a coach or other professional who can help you build greater self-awareness and self confidence. A certified coach will provide a safe, confidential, and supportive space for you to stretch yourself, connect to your strengths and values, and hold yourself accountable in service to your greater fulfillment in life.

As entrepreneurs, we often unintentionally stand in our own way with old stories about ourselves. As you develop your professional practice, take the time to do the work to develop your “core” — and see yourself the competent, courageous, creative person that you are.

Amy K. Harbison, CPCC, ACC is the owner of Open Window Coaching, and a solo communications/branding professional. She helps her clients navigate personal and professional transitions related to career, relationships, and retirement.

Learn more at www.openwindowcoaching .com.

Image courtesy of | Goldy

Written By Karen Swim
Karen Swim is the President of Solo PR and Founder of public relations agency, Words For Hire.