Mastering Self-Efficacy and Over-coming Imposter Syndrome
Self-efficacy is the unrelenting belief in your own abilities to achieve whatever you set your mind to. Studies have shown that entrepreneurs possess a higher level of self-efficacy than non-entrepreneurs. What sets the business founder apart from the non-business founder is not access to resources or capital. Instead, it is the sincere confidence in one’s qualifications, capabilities, and intelligence to achieve the maximum level of performance. What I am describing here is not narcissism. It’s not self-absorption or arrogance. Pure self-efficacy has nothing to do with expressing your superiority to others but rather is an internal affirmation that you are good enough.
Successful entrepreneurs who possess a deep sense of self-efficacy typically see obstacles as opportunities hone their skills and view setbacks as a set-up for greater accomplishments. They don’t avoid challenges and refuse to dwell on disappointments. They understand their limits but take on difficult tasks to push beyond their limitations. Focusing on negative outcomes and internalizing them is not a trait that would describe them.
Unfortunately, not all entrepreneurs are created equal. Many first time entrepreneurs experience what is known as “imposter syndrome.” New entrepreneurs are more susceptible to experiencing imposter syndrome because they’ve never mastered the ability to internalize their accomplishments. They live by the misguided belief that their inexperience may be viewed by others as fraudulent. As an entrepreneur, if you don’t believe in yourself, it will be challenging for anyone else to believe in you or your business. Overcoming imposter syndrome is vital for the survival of your career. Below are a few steps to help you get started.
1. Perfection is overrated
Often times in the life of an entrepreneur you will find that the pursuit perfection is the enemy of the good. Delaying action because you are waiting for the perfect time to launch your business, gain a new skill, or reach out to a potential client is lunacy. The perfect conditions for taking action in your business may never come. It is better to let go of your ideas of perfection and resolve to take action.
2. It’s okay to pat your own back
If you have worked hard, made sacrifices, and exerted effort into launching or growing your business, do not be ashamed to accept the accolades that come with success. Stop feeling like you don’t deserve to celebrate your accomplishments, simply because others have not achieved your level of success. If you put in the work then you should reap the benefits of your labor unabashed. You stuck your neck out there to become an entrepreneur and do something that many other people would never attempt to do. That is no small feat. You will need to remember your successes when you go through the lean periods, so live it up.
3. Flip your perspective
If the imposter syndrome has you questioning your legitimacy as an entrepreneur, flip your focus away from yourself and towards the value, you bring to your business. This will take some of the pressure off because it’s about how you can help grow and expand your business and not you as an individual. Sometimes it’s better to let your work speak for itself. This is not an excuse to get lost in your work. It is an opportunity for you to take the spotlight off of yourself and get work done.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
You are not Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, or Mark Zuckerberg (insert a titan in your industry here) and that’s okay. You do not need to be either of them in order to be happy and successful. You have no idea what their lives were like before they achieved success and what their lives consist of now that they are household names. As an entrepreneur, you have a perspective and set of experiences that are unique to you. Why give up your identity to be like everyone else? Spend some time away from all forms of media and take inventory of who you are and your unique perspective. No one will be as good at being you, then you.
5. Credentials aren’t everything
Learning abstract concepts and theories in school is commendable, but it does not mean you are ready to apply those concepts in the real world. When a doctor graduates from medical school or a lawyer graduates from law school, their diplomas show that they know a lot about their respective industries. But if you needed surgery or a lawyer to defend you in court, those sheets of parchment would mean nothing to you without practical experience to support them. Credentials and accolades can only take you so far. While they may be helpful in some instances, they are not the standard you should measure yourself against. One of the most effective ways of developing self-efficacy is by mastering experiences. Each time you meet a deadline, launch a product, or handle a crisis you form a deeper sense of your ability to handle whatever may come.
6. When All Else Fails. . .
Keep going! The simple truth is that sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. No, I’m not advocating defrauding the public or anything nefarious like that. What I am referring to is seeing yourself as you want to be, not as you currently are. New entrepreneurs sometimes have to up-sell their abilities to get their foot in the door and that’s okay. You will never see how far you can go if you always stop before you reach your limits. Letting the fear of failure limit your capacity to achieve more is wrong. When a reporter asked Thomas Edison how did it feel to fail 1,000 times in his attempts to invent the light bulb, Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” How many steps will you take for your next business?