three ways to fight imposter syndrome: a silent killer for creatives and entrepreneurs

The dictionary defines imposter syndrome as “A psychological pattern in which a person doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

You might be familiar with the feeling. It’s the one that creeps in right before you sit down to start writing your book, or moments before you step on stage to deliver a talk. It’s the plaguing thought that whispers, “Who do you think you are?” 

The reality is that we all experience “imposter syndrome” from time to time—some moments more noticeable than others. Imposter syndrome is present nearly every day for entrepreneurs and creatives, but can also present itself for parents, athletes, and working professionals.

But if you’ve ever looked into the subject itself, you know that the ones who overcome this phenomenon each day are the ones who channel “Imposter!” into positivity, and are able to confidently weed out the big lie: you don’t belong here.

Lies and Imposter Syndrome

Brian Tracy is a well-known author and leadership coach. Here’s what he has to say about imposter syndrome:

“Even the most successful people at one point started brand new in their skill, needed guidance from others to excel, and performed at an amateur level. Over time, they learned new skills, overcame challenges, and mastered their craft to get where they are today.”

This quote reminds us how the professional athlete, the successful sales rep, and the well-spoken politician all started as novices at some point. They might not have always known what they were doing, but they started somewhere.

Imposter syndrome can be paralyzing and keep even the most motivated among us on the sidelines—hence the “silent killer” nature of its strategy. But just because it’s a silent killer in our mind, make no mistake . . . there are lies we tell ourselves daily. The key is to talk back to those lies.

Here are three ways to fight imposter syndrome. 

Cultivate Clarity

A clear day-to-day objective and well-defined purpose in life allows you to push forward when you face obstacles.

The time I struggle with imposter syndrome most is when I forget my overall purpose in work and life. When you know what you stand for, and know what you want to create, it becomes easier to move forward despite adversity or negativity.

In other words, when imposter syndrome says “Who do you think you are?” Don’t get caught without an answer. Confidently define who you are and what objectives you are out to accomplish.

“This is who I am . . . “

Remember NO ONE Has it All Figured Out.

As they grow up, it’s natural for children to think adults have everything under control. As children grow into adulthood, we realize “everything under control” is a little bit more complicated.

When you can wrap your mind around the fact that even elite performers are constantly learning, it reminds you to have confidence in your abilities. Former Hall of Fame basketball coach, John Wooden once said, “The best competition I have is against myself, to become better.

John knew that comparing yourself against others success (or lack thereof) isn’t nearly as effective than personal growth each day. Tell imposter syndrome “I’m getting better today, and tomorrow I’ll be better for it.”

Trust Your Training

During my four years of playing college football, nearly everything in my life was regimented—workouts, study hall, class, team meetings, position meetings, practice, film study, etc.

Throughout practice, we went over the same drills until they became second nature. Likewise, in whatever area you wish to succeed, discipline yourself, be prepared, hone your craft, do your work with excellence, and imposter syndrome will fade away over time.

Abraham Lincoln alluded to the power in preparation when he said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Imposter syndrome sucks, and we talk about it with many of our Streamline authors. It’s an honor we get to remind them the world does need the message they have to share. But as Honest Abe knew, there is a way you can get ahead of the problem . . .

And it starts with combatting the lie you’re not enough, defining your personal mission and vision, and sharpening your axe for whatever trees lie ahead.


Alex Demczak

Alex Demczak

Alex is the Co-Founder of Streamline Books and author of The Sale and Thrive U. He and his lovely wife, Erin, live in Columbia, Missouri with their daughter, Kennedy.