Remove the Fake Mask: How Imposter Syndrome Holds You Back

If You Feel Like a Fraud, Imposter Syndrome is Keeping You From Success

Success begins when you turn yourself inside out. When you feel like a fake, you’re sure that everything you do is seen by others as getting away with something you don’t deserve.


You are not alone. This feeling of being a fake is felt by 70% of the world’s population according to Wikipedia. Successful people often feel as though they will be discovered as imposters.

| People who have reportedly experienced the syndrome include Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks,[15] screenwriter Chuck Lorre,[16] best-selling writer Neil Gaiman,[17] [18] best-selling writer John Green, comedian Tommy Cooper,[19] business leader Sheryl Sandberg, US Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor,[20] actress Emma Watson, [21] and entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes [22].|



Entrepreneurs depend on their self-reliance but are often troubled by the feeling that they will be discovered. High achievers are particularly prone to these feelings of self-doubt. Entrepreneurs, like you, work hard to become successful but can sabotage success when these feelings of being a fake keep you from going big.


Imposter Syndrome can be a big component of that X Factor, those hidden fears that hold back your success.


What is Imposter Syndrome?

This feeling of being a fake was first termed Imposter Syndrome in 1978 by a team of psychologists who recognized the inability of successful people to internalize their accomplishments and who live in fear that they will be exposed as a fraud.


The Signs of Feeling Fake

Each individual experiences Imposter Syndrome in different ways. Take a few moments to review the five most common experiences to figure out if these symptoms are part of your work day.



Do you wait… and wait… until each job is perfect, fiddling with details to get them exactly right? Do you keep double and triple checking what you have to offer before you tell the world?


Almost perfect is not good enough for perfectionists. Waiting until something is perfect before taking action is a sure sign of perfectionism. The all-or-nothing attitude keeps you from getting your work out to the very customers and clients you want. You need those clients in order to achieve success.


Rather than learning from a process, perfectionists tend to set a goal and see anything less than achieving the goal as a failure. Or, a perfectionist may criticize almost everything they do as well as criticizing the people around them including employees and vital contractors.



Because people with Imposter Syndrome do not recognize achievements, they can work long and unnecessary hours burning the midnight oil and eating up weekends because they want to compensate for that feeling of being a fake.


If you find yourself frequently late at night doing that “one more thing,” it may be a sign that you are overworking.


Undermine Achievements

From ignoring sales reports to canceling a meeting with an important client, Imposter Syndrome keeps you from acknowledging your accomplishments. If you avoid reviewing your sales reports because they might not meet your expectations you are not facing the reality that success comes in increments. Even worse, thinking that someone may not want your product or service before you meet with them is another way entrepreneurs can self-sabotage what could be a profitable interchange.


Fear of Failure

You may decide not to try something new because it may not work rather than exploring the possibilities of enhancing your business. You may set a goal and then not follow through thinking that it may not work rather than exploring the possibilities of working to accomplish the goal. That sense of perfectionism is insidious and prevents you from starting new projects.


Discounting Praise

The Imposter Syndrome can make you feel as though you don’t deserve sincere compliments and praise. Instead of saying thank you, you will respond to praise by diminishing the work you’ve done. Because people who feel as though they are fake can’t acknowledge their achievements, they struggle to accept honest praise for work well done.

First Steps to Feeling Real

Fortunately there are a number of actions you can take to overcome your feeling of being a fraud. Working with small steps will help you shift your thinking from negative beliefs to knowing your positive traits.


  1. The first step to conquering that feeling of being a fake is to know that you feel that way. Begin to notice each time you have that feeling. Some people find keeping a diary helps track the instances. As they track they become more aware.

  2. Keep a file of your awards and achievements, even the small ones. Each time you notice you start to feel fake, take a look at all the things you have accomplished.

  3. Stop comparing yourself to your competitors or your role model. Your success path is your own. If you want to make comparisons, take a look at how you have progressed since you started your business.

  4. Know that being wrong doesn’t mean you are a fraud. Everyone makes wrong choices and bad decisions. Acknowledge that you were wrong in this instance. Then, look for ways to create better solutions.

  5. Give value in your business activities. Rather than criticizing or complaining about yourself or others, focus on creating solutions and giving praise. Acknowledge gratitude for the steps you have taken. You’ll discover you have a more positive attitude overall.


No one action flips the switch. As you create of history of positive actions, your mental attitude begins to shift. Over time you’ll discover that you have fewer and fewer feelings of being a fraud. You’ll emerge as who you are - a successful entrepreneur.


Remove the Mask


Because Imposter Syndrome can show up in so many ways, it is challenging to isolate the way it affects your career as an entrepreneur. That’s where Business Success Solution can help. As a therapist turned business coach, I work with you to get out of your own way and achieve the success you deserve. Together we work to dispel the fake myths you hold and turn your actions toward positive self-image and success.


I help you match the actions that will benefit you most with your specific feelings that hold you back. Entrepreneurs gain success from the inside out. You will discover the more positive steps you take to overcome your feeling of fraud, the more success you’ll experience.


I’ll help you create the mindset that allows you to thrive as an entrepreneur. Get free of hidden doubts and decide to thrive.