How to Deal With Imposter Syndrome as a Freelancer or Agency Owner
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with insecurity. Although I realize I am not alone in this, I sure felt alone and imagined that every other agency owner had this figured out, except for me.
I was afraid to charge more and truly afraid to take on larger WordPress design and development projects.
This obviously negatively affected my quality of life, but also, my bottom line. I was afraid of failure and success at the same time.
I was lost.
But I persevered. I kept pushing. I was trying new things, but I was still falling flat and not sure if I was cut out for running a WordPress design and development agency.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up, put my resume together, and get to a “safe” corporate job.
Then I came across a book recommendation on Amazon and my entire view of myself and my agency completely changed. Until then I had no idea that what I was experiencing had a name.
It does, and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.
Boy did everything in this book resonate with me.
Before we get to the good stuff, let me tell you some interesting facts about my old friend Imposter syndrome.
So what exactly is imposter syndrome?
Well according to Wikipedia, Imposter syndrome is defined as:
“A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ’fraud.’
Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”
Well that was definitely me and, if I am going to be honest with you, it still is. Despite the fact that last year alone, I took a client from $750,000 in revenue to over $5.5 million in revenue, and had a client get acquired for 7 figures just 15 months after launching their site, here I am, still wondering if I am any good at this.
For me, it seems that the voice in my head that keeps on nagging and telling me how I am in over my head and someone is going to find out, is 100%, what has been holding me back from being able to charge more for projects and causing me to procrastinate on so many things.
And so I started to research….and I quickly found out that I am not alone.
Not by a long shot.
According to this article, up to 82% of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their life.
When I discovered this, it came as somewhat of a relief, but I wanted to know how to fix it. It felt good that I now had a name for this thing that I have been struggling with and that I was not alone. But, what do I do about it?
What Can You Do About It?
So you’re with me so far, you recognize the struggle with imposter syndrome in your own life and how it is holding you back.
But you still don’t know how to change your relationship with Imposter Syndrome so you can use it to your advantage?
I felt the same way about this struggle which had been holding me back in life and in business for almost 10 years. Then I discovered a book that changed everything for me – Overcoming The Impostor: Silence Your Inner Critic and Lead with Confidence by Kris Kelso.
I reached out to Kris and asked him for the most important aspects to overcoming imposter syndrome:
“Hi Jon. As you know, I wrote a book on this topic recently – Overcoming The Imposter. And as I was going through the process of writing that book and doing the research, I looked back at my career.
I had this really interesting moment where I realized a pattern that changed the way I think about success and failure.
That pattern that I noticed in my storyline is that the moments of my career where I felt the most insecure the most in over my head, the most inadequate or unworthy, where I had the most stress and anxiety.
Those were the moments that something great was happening.
Usually when I’m feeling that anxious, when I’m feeling like an imposter, it means that either I’m around people that intimidate me or I am in a situation where I’m outside my comfort zone and that pain is part of the building process of developing new skills and new knowledge.
Or maybe I’m taking a risk and the chances of failure are high. But so are the chances of learning a lot.
Big risks eventually bring big rewards.
So I’ve realized that those moments that I felt the most anxiety that I wanted to pull back from.
That if I push through the fear, amazing things happen just on the other side of that anxiety.
I’ve learned to actually lean into that to turn anxiety into anticipation.
When I start to feel that stress of ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m in over my head, this may not work out’, I see that as a sign that something great is on the horizon and I’ve got to double my efforts and work hard and push through that stress to get to the reward on the other side.
If you’re going to do this, if you’re going to change your mindset about imposter syndrome, if you’re going to identify that voice of the inner critic, and begin to counteract it, there’s a couple of things that you need to do.
The first is, you’ve got to change your perspective on success and failure.
The change that you need to make and how you think about success is to stop measuring success against other people.
Stop measuring success by comparing yourself to someone else, because the reality is, you don’t know another person’s entire story.
And you don’t know the cracks and flaws behind their story. Like you do your own.
Anytime you compare yourself to another person or you compare your business to another business.
You are comparing the reality of your own life against a polished and filtered curated version of someone else’s.
It’s not reality. It’s not true. It’s not real, it’s a trap.
You’ve got to learn to measure success, by your own definition, measure your progress against your goals and don’t worry about how you compare to someone else.
Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t learn from other people. It doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from studying what other people and other businesses have done.
But when you compare yourself and use that as your benchmark, it’s a flawed measuring system and it’s going to leave you feeling inadequate, almost every time.
You also have to change your definition of failure.
I have a mantra that failure is only failure. If you learn nothing.
You see, failure is a great teacher, failure is a great way to learn.
If you fear failure, that fear is going to keep you from learning the lessons you need to learn in order to succeed.
So you’ve got to look for opportunities, not that you intentionally want to fail, but that you look for a chance to learn something, you look for an opportunity to take a risk, knowing that you’ll either succeed or you’ll learn.
Those are the two options.
The only way you really and truly fail is this, you just walk away with no lesson learned.
So when you change that perspective, and you no longer fear failure, but you look at risk and trial and error differently.
You’re disarming, that voice of the inner critic, that imposter, you’re…taking away the fear of failure as a tool that holds you back.”
These insights from Kris have been incredibly helpful for myself and in my business, but there is a lot more to it than what I can share here.
If you are struggling with imposter syndrome and feel like it is holding you back, I have something special for you that you might be interested in if you are looking for additional help to change your relationship with imposter syndrome.
I have created an entire 8 week course that helps agency owners and freelancers to consistently generate $10,000+ WordPress projects.
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About Jon Taggart
My WordPress agency has generated over $10 million dollars for my clients using this process. It has also allowed me to completely overhaul my rates with the value I am now able to provide to my clients. I used to charge $1,500 per WordPress project and now I am able to consistently convert projects at rates of $5,000, $10,000 and even $20,000+