Jun 27 2013

Imposter Syndrome (cont.): Success ISN’T Chance.

“I’ve just been lucky,” my client, Jerry, responded when we started talking about the success of his financial practice.

Jerry started working with me when he felt he had hit a plateau.  He was afraid to lose what he had built by raising his management and planning rates, and he wasn’t sure what he wanted his next steps to be.

“Jerry, you’ve worked hard to develop your practice to this point,” I affirmed to him, “So what makes you say that it was luck?”

“It’s just that the people I work with haven’t discovered how little I really know,” he replied.  ”I mean, I’ve got all these licenses and certifications, but if they knew how often I was just winging it, none of these people would have stuck with me for so long.”

Jerry was suffering from “Imposter Syndrome“.  While his clients believed in him and gave him glowing testimonials, in his own mind he was a phony, and whatever successes he had were only attributable to blind chance.  The fact that his “luck” was based on how he treated people—as well as on a combination of training, continuous learning, intuition, and life experience—didn’t register with him at all.

Jerry is not alone.  According to an article published a few years ago in Inc. Magazine, as many as 25% of successful entrepreneurs feel like imposters all of the time, and up to 70% feel that way at least some of the time.  (That leaves little more than 5% who are confident that they have earned what they have!)

But I worked with Jerry to change his paradigm—to get him to understand that while it may appear that some people have success that is attributable to chance, his success is attributable to the dedicated effort with which he applies the skills he does possess, and to his obvious care and concern for his clients—it comes from ACTION.

Jerry came to realize that it was appropriate for him to raise his rates.  “I still feel like a fake sometimes,” he told me, “But I understand that the feeling is about my fear that I don’t deserve this success.  I have to look in the mirror and remind myself that I do deserve it.”

For a great discussion on the Paralyzing Fear of being unworthy, refer to my first book, The High Diving Board.  I encourage all professionals to start selling services by “acting as if” they are already successful.  Somehow, many of them never stop feeling that they are only “acting as if”, even long after they’ve actually become quite skilled and knowledgeable, and truly excellent at what they do.

If you think you’ve been riding on luck alone, and you’re worried it’s going to run out, contact me now and I’ll set you straight.  Don’t give Imposter Syndrome the chance to hold back the growth of your business, practice, or person…just keep REACHING…

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