5 Types of Imposter Syndrome & How to Overcome It

Kelly sitting at her desk

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Harvard Business Review defines Imposter Syndrome as "as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success." Better known as the inner mean girl who convinces you that you suck no-one wants to hear what you have to say.

People with imposter syndrome may feel that they are frauds, who will be "found out" and exposed any minute now. As a matter of fact, it is normal and quite common in entrepreneurs. Lucky us!

Did you know that imposter syndrome often pops up right before you move to the next level in your business/ success? 

If you have ever struggled with feelings of shame, inadequacy, insecurity or vulnerability where your business is concerned, muzzle that inner mean girl and read on!


What are the Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome?

  • Are you excessively critical of your own work?
  • Ever worry that you aren't as intelligent or capable everyone else assumes you are?
  • Have you ever thought something to the effect of, "Who am I to be doing this?" or "What if people find out I don't know as much as they think I know?"
  • Do you question or downplay the success you've already had?  Do you harp on one negative comment instead of the numerous praises and kudos for your work?
  • How about, "I don't deserve this," "I'm not good enough," "I'm just lucky," or "That was a fluke." Welcome to Imposter Island, I'll be your guide!

Ready to kick all those feelings of self doubt to the curb and step into all that you can be?!   *Nods head* (Me too!)

Types of Imposter Syndrome - Which One Are You?

    1. The Perfectionist -  

       You're a high achiever with high expectations of yourself which often leads to anxiety and being stuck.  Give yourself permission to suck.

      You've heard the phrase "Fail fast", but you just can't get yourself to hit publish or send because whatever it is could be improved.  Girl, the world needs what we have to give so I'll count us down...3,2,1...DO IT!  

    2.  The Expert -

       You doubt your work even though you've done it time and again. You keep producing waiting to be found out any day now. Even Maya Angelou struggles, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out." 

    3. The Superwoman -

       You're a doer, you do it on your own and you push yourself to the limit, often over the limit. You're going to earn your stripes no matter what it takes.

      True story: this kind of "doing" almost landed me in the hospital after planning and executing my own conference.

    4. The Natural Genius -

       You have natural smarts and talents, but never wanting to feel "stupid", you stay away from things that are outside your wheelhouse OR spend an inordinate amount of time learning it yourself.

      Yes, I see me you us there frantically searching YouTube tutorials and downloading PDF guides as fast as your fingers can enter your email address into the opt in.  

    5. The Soloist - 

       You feel like if you must do it on your own because asking for help is a sign of weakness. After all, if you can't do it then you must not be the real deal.


How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

It's important to remember that everyone feels like an imposter at some point in their career.

Every client I have ever worked with has struggled on some level with imposter syndrome.  Hell, I'm the poster child for Imposter Syndrome!


1. Stop comparing yourself to others -

Especially if it is on social media! We all know that those gorgeous instagram photos and perfectly curated feeds are NOT real life.

If looking at your feed on social media leaves you feeling worse than when you started it is time to unfollow those accounts! 

2. Fail forward -

In other words, do it dirty.  Nothing is ever going to be perfect.  Timing is never going to be perfect.  Fear of failure will only stall you out as you enviously scroll other people's success. 

If something is going to fail, better to find out sooner rather than later and make the adjustments necessary to improve the next time.  (I'm aware how easy this is to preach and how terrifying to practice!)

Failure says nothing about you as a human, except maybe you are a total badass for moving forward.  Failure is really just feedback.

3. Surround yourself with cheerleaders, not naysayers -

Sad, but true, the naysayers in our lives are often those closest to us.  Your spouse, your best friend, your mother-in-law, your sister. Their negative outlook or critical feedback often comes from their own fear of you changing or growing without them.  It might also be well intentioned to keep you from what they see as a risky decision or mistake.

This doesn't mean you need to ditch the hubby and stop hanging with your bestie.  It simply means you might save the business conversations for those who lift you up, fill you with optimism and cheer on your business efforts. (Don't know anyone like that, hit me up, I'm the wing woman for many women solopreneurs!)

4. Feel the fear and do it anyway -

This is great advice, hard as it may be. Basically, your brain is doing its job to keep you "safe", but it doesn't distinguish between a Grizzly bear chasing you and launching a new product or podcast. 

5. Keep an "atta girl" file -

Screenshot the kudos, words of gratitude, praise and testimonials your customers and clients send your way and save them in a file.  On the days when you feel like a fraud read these and remind your self of past success and the important service you provide.

It might be time for you to hire a coach or join a mastermind group.  Definitely find people who understand the pitfalls of solopreneurship.


You are Not Alone 

You aren't the only entrepreneur sitting in self doubt, procrastination and the fear of being "found out." Working to make things "perfect" only to be left either terrified to start or never putting anything out there since things can always be "better."

I hope this article has helped you to realize that you are not alone in the battle against Imposter Syndrome. You are not the only one who is worried about what others think of them. You are not the only one who feels like they don't deserve the success they have had so far.

Now go hit send on that thing you've been putting off for fear of being your brilliant self!