Imposter Syndrome

Hey GenZ you can beat this

Being a GenZ entrepreneur is daunting. It’s not just the ‘starting the business’ bit, it’s the ‘are you old enough to be doing this?’ bit. People look at you like they don’t believe you, don’t believe in you. You’re a fraud, a fake, an imposter. Or are you? 

‘You go to networking events and a lot of people can’t believe you run a company and a lot of that is to do with my age. “You run a business? How?” Sometimes I ask myself the same question! 

‘Coming in at the age I came into business at, there was huge Imposter Syndrome that plagued me for years. I’d go into meetings thinking “Oh my god, I’m the only one having these feelings” but no, actually, everyone has it.’

Imposter Syndrome For Real

Those quotes above are from Elle McIntosh, inventor of Twipes, and one of the core crew here at GenZ Insight. In her early 20s at the time, she was battling to produce the first environmentally, fully biodegradable wet-wipes. And people looked at her, and she saw them looking at her. Female, black and, importantly, young enough to get ID’d every time she wanted to buy a drink. 

You know what it is she felt. That she wasn’t good enough. That she would get ‘found out’. That she would fail, spectacularly and publicly. That everyone else knew what they were doing apart from her. That everyone else deserved to be there, but she didn’t – and any moment now they’d find her out. That she had no right to ask for anything because she wasn’t really worthy of it. That what she ought to do is give up this silly dream and do something more suitable to her actual abilities, like grow maggots to sell to fishermen. 

Never Ever Give Up

We all suffer from it. In my past I’ve had to interview some really senior businesspeople, titans of industry from electronics to F1. Every time you start the process, of arriving, security, PAs, PRs, checking, asking me probing questions about the interview, the outlet, the outcome, you’re in a state of stress. And that’s before you’re ushered in to talk on tape to the person themself. 

By the time they’re sat there ready, probably with a PR girl nearby who’s possibly recording while I’m recording, often with the knowledge that you have a precise time slot and not a minute more, you feel like you have no intelligent questions to ask. It was all for nothing. As soon as you open your mouth you’ll be ‘found out’. You should have stayed at journalism college. Better, you should never have gone, what made you think you could do this, you fraud? 

And so it goes on, time after time. But it did go on. I never gave up. Nor will you. You’ll keep going because, you know what, you’re actually doing this. You’re actually starting a company which may amount to something. You’re not talking about it, telling people you’re going to do it, or making excuses as to why you haven’t started it – you’ve only gone and done it haven’t you?

That’s not a sign of a fraud or a fake is it? And here’s the thing – we all think we are not ‘it’, unless we’re sociopaths. So how do you fight back, how do you smash the syndrome?

Syndrome Fightback

Do the work. Learn, get experience, get better, grind it. Every time you doubt yourself, look not how far you have to go but how far you’ve come. Every time you think you’re stupid show yourself the course you’ve just passed or the promotion you just earned. Every time you think you’re in a roomful of experts who know what they’re doing and you don’t, you can try thinking differently: 

•    A famous Middle Eastern opera singer was daunted by her massive Western audience. So she thought: ‘Every morning every person here wipes their bottom with bits of paper.’ 

•    Here’s a liberating thought: nobody cares. Nobody cares about you, they’re worrying about themselves. I repeat: nobody cares. That thought is full of fizzing freedom. 

•    Ask yourself: Is there a single fact to back up this feeling? What data is there to support the notion that I am a fake? There isn’t any is there? 

•    As Doctor Jordan Peterson said: ‘Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.’ 

How else can you conquer Imposter Syndrome? Let us know!

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