Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Coaching Business

As a coach or consultant, do you ever feel like you’ve got an annoying little devil on your shoulder making you feel like an imposter, who’s constantly nagging in your ear and telling you you’re useless?

“You don’t know what you’re doing!”

“Just wait lady, you’re gonna get found out!”

“Let’s agree, you’re a complete failure!”

Consistent feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and unworthiness can be incredibly debilitating and leave your self-esteem in the gutter. Ever thought you could be living with imposter syndrome?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Whilst most people think negatively from time to time, imposter syndrome is a more persistent phenomenon. The term was first coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 and it was found to disproportionately impact women because of decreased testosterone but more research has discovered men experience it too.

Feeling like an impostor as a new or existing coach can lead to:

  • Underselling your services and being overly “grateful” to your clients, “rescuing” your clients, doing most of the work in the coaching session
  • Putting off getting clients and instead of collecting more and more qualifications until you feel you are “good enough” (often without having identified what “good enough” looks like for you)

At worst, imposter syndrome can block potential, kill careers and limit your life in a profound way. But even experiencing it on a smaller level can put a squeeze on your potential and make running a business or working a job much more difficult.

With stats showing that 70% of US workers have experienced it at some point, how can you overcome imposter syndrome or learn to manage it?

imposter1. Observing our self-talk

Becoming more aware of the damaging way you talk to yourself is a good way to start counteracting imposter syndrome.

A top tip is to ask yourself whether you’d ever contemplated saying some of the hurtful things you say to yourself to someone else…now unless you’re a complete psychopath, the answer is hopefully no.

So, why say it to yourself?

Identify your feelings and acknowledge them, but don’t act on them. Don’t decide to sabotage the rest of a meeting for yourself because you feel like you made an awkward joke to your CEO that no one found funny *tumbleweed*. Don’t give your negative thoughts about the weight and worth that they don’t deserve.

Writing down negative thoughts can be a way to externalize them and push them to the side. You don’t need to think them anymore because they’re independent of you now.


2. Using a new internal language

“I should be richer”

“I should be more successful”

“I should have more magic beans”

Stop ‘shoulding’ yourself into oblivion. Torturing ourselves with a weird abstract measurement of where we think we should be and what we should be doing isn’t healthy.

Yes, we can all probably say “I should be better” and it’d be true, apart from Oprah, who’s obviously perfect, but sticking to a general principle is better than looking at every element of your life and believing you’ll turn into a complete mess of a human if you’re not constantly telling yourself you should be doing more.

Be more positive with the language you speak to yourself. Dwelling on the past and regrets can lead to negative-town – using forward-thinking and positive directional language.


3. Authenticity means not hiding your true self

Being more authentic means that you’re truthful about yourself and what you’re feeling. Open up to others and share your concerns – y’know what they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.

And part of the sneakiness of imposter syndrome is that it makes you feel completely alone and as if you’re on an island of insecurity and no-ones coming to save you! So, let it all out and chat to people you’re close to – I can almost guarantee that others will share the same insecurities and self-doubt sometimes because it makes you human.

Seeking support can help to keep your imposter syndrome in check because you’re not hiding it and giving it more power by being secretive.


4. Own your accomplishments

A key component in the battle to defeat imposter syndrome is to accept your successes, accept compliments and accept that you’ve accomplished something. Every single person on this planet has achieved something, so celebrate in your wins and own your success. 

When you’re going through tough moments and down days, wallowing is really easy, so look back on your accomplishments and remind yourself of times where you have achieved something.

In the midst of imposter syndrome, you start to believe that you’ll never achieve anything again, so make a scrapbook or have a record of your success to remind yourself that you’re a badass.

Use positive feedback as rocket-fuel and don’t be afraid to think “yeah, I’m pretty great”.


5. Even coaches need coaches

Overcoming imposter syndrome by yourself is all well and good, but it can be really tough to muster the inner energy to do it day in, day out. Sometimes, you need an objective eye to overlook things and give you a pep talk when you need it.

A coach is a perfect candidate to join your crime-fighting duo to face-off against trashy imposter syndrome.

Battle it with your coach and chances are you’ll be more successful at it and they’re on hand to remind you and offer you some fresh perspective.

They’ll keep you focused on your goals to grow your business, stop you from comparing yourself and get you to open up about your feelings and failings.


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