ever feel like you’re pretending to know more than you do?

Recently, we’ve noticed an interesting term bandied about in networking circles. It’s called imposter syndrome. We don’t like to miss anything, so we decided to do a little research.

Here’s what we learned.

Impostor syndrome is “the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications.” (Yes, Imposter Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It. Abigail Adams, Time Magazine, June 20, 2018).

While it smacks of insecurity, it’s not very unusual. According to Melody Wilder In her Fast Company article “The Five Types of Impostor Syndrome and How to Beat Them”, “70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their career.”

If these figures are accurate, 7 out of 10 people feel they put on a good show. They’ve internalized the negative connotation that the word imposter implies – fraud, charlatan, cheat. Actually, Fake It Til You Make It sounds a whole lot better. So does Act As If. But they’re all the same — Act Confident Til You Really Know What You’re Doing — Pretend and Hope No One Notices.

The idea that 7 out of every 10 people you know believe they’ve achieved success or recognition due to luck is hard to fathom. Especially if you fall into the 7. Maybe we need to rethink how we’re thinking.

The fact is that insecurity comes quite naturally to many of us when faced with something unfamiliar — particularly if you’re a perfectionist or micromanager.

Any time you learn something new, there’s a learning curve. The more you learn, the more you understand, the more your confidence grows.

One day you realize you know this topic pretty damn well. You may not fashion yourself an expert or a specialist, but you know you can deliver a product you’re proud of.  Imposter no more!

If you’re starting a business or beginning a new career, you will face hurdles. Odds are, you’ll also need to stretch and learn on the fly.

Technology changes at a maddening pace. You can’t be expected to be on top of everything in your field. But you can learn. You can attend seminars and workshops or take classes. You can network with people in your industry who may specialize in areas you don’t or who’ve found a smarter way to handle a problem. And you can ask for advice. Or help. Yes, it’s what smart people do!

For example, a web developer might belong to a developer’s forum where members share common problems, discuss solutions and evaluate themes, upgrades and plugins. A newcomer to the group might feel intimidated by members who’ve been around for a while. This can lead to the they-know-more, they’re-experts – I’m not mindset. Their advice to you? Do your best and learn as much as you can. In the meantime, act as if you know what you’re doing. It’s probably what they did starting out.

How to beat the imposter blues.

If you’re not 100% comfortable with your knowledge on a particular topic or issue, you may find yourself faking it till you are. Or you may BELIEVE you are faking it while actually knowing a lot more than you give yourself credit for (never end a sentence with preposition…apologies to my English professors).

See if this make you feel any better:

  • No one starts out as an expert. It’s something you achieve with study, effort and time.
  • Just because someone calls themselves an expert doesn’t make it so. Don’t let a label make you feel insecure.
  • Everything we learn is new. That’s what learning is all about. Becoming knowledgeable on a topic — whether your goal is to be an expert or simply good, really good — takes work.
  • Unless you feel you know something inside and out, you may still doubt your expertise.
    Perfectionists often feel like imposters. This comes from never being satisfied. But you can learn how to lighten up.

Maybe it’s time to work on your self-confidence and stop worrying about what you don’t know. Glass half full time.

Jeff Atwood, who blogs at codinghorror.com, “If I’ve learned anything in my career, it is that approaching software development as an expert, as someone who has already discovered everything there is to know about a given topic, is the one surest way to fail.”

I like Atwood’s attitude. It’s humble and honest and celebrates all there is left to learn rather than getting stuck on what you don’t know.

On that note, I think this is a good place to stop.

For some excellent tips on dealing with imposter syndrome, read Abigail Adams’ Time Magazine article, ”Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It.”

Feel free to share any comments if imposter syndrome is something you’ve dealt with. We might use it for a follow-up post on getting ahead.

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How mindful is your marketing?

Aware. Engaged. In the moment. All words and phrases affiliated with mindfulness. It’s all about a sense of “now”. No distracting thoughts about the future or the past. Just here and now and present and in the moment.

mindfulness can make your marketing more effective

Since mindfulness is good for the soul (thank you, HuffPo), we figured it must be good for other things as well. Like marketing.

A stretch, perhaps? Not if you think of it in terms of benefits — in this case, success.

If you were to apply the same techniques to marketing that you do to mindfulness, here’s what you might expect:

  • Improved focus.
    In this case, getting right to the point of what you want your marketing to accomplish. Honing in on the benefits your service provides, the problems your product fixes, the positive results of working with your company.
  • Less stress.
    We all know people who seem to live in a constant state of stress. They complain a lot, probably have high blood pressure and never dial down and relax. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound appealing. When your mind is racing, it’s hard to think clearly. Using mindfulness can help you slow down, allowing you to be more creative and making you more receptive to new ideas. New ideas can drive your marketing in fresh, distinctive ways.
  • Clarity of message.
    The clearer you are about what makes your product or service unique, the clearer your marketing message. We’re all overprogrammed and far too busy. The simplest messages have the best chance of breaking through the clutter. It’s the old KISS adage: Keep it simple, Stupid.
  • The beauty of balance.
    Mindfulness helps you get in touch with you feelings, your mind and your body. Why not apply it to making sure your business is healthy? Sort of a checks and balance tune-up. Doing an assessment of how your business is performing should be done regularly, long before the balance sheet looks bad. If the numbers aren’t where you need them to be, use the results of your assessment to create and drive new marketing messages.
  • Thoughtful decision making.
    At one time or another, we all make bad decisions. The more mindful we are, the less chance there is of this happening. When we slow down enough to look at all sides of an argument, we make better choices.
  • Learning to nurture.
    Mindfulness teaches us to find inner peace. Taking the time to think about what’s important in our lives is a nurturing first step. Incorporating that into our lives takes work. The same is true for your business. A successful business requires nurturing if it is to stay successful. Staying on top of the competition. Responding to your audience and your clients in a timely fashion. Keeping up-to-date on the technology that drives or supports your business. Hiring the best employees you can find, then keeping them happy.
  • Gratitude.
    If you’re a business owner who’s doing well, that’s certainly something to be grateful for. Share that gratitude. Let customers know you appreciate their business. Tell them – in correspondence, on social media, in content development, in every touch point with your company.

Be mindful about customer relationships and they’ll continue to do business with you. After all, who doesn’t like doing business with people we trust and like?

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