Two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, describe a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement,” and coined it "Imposter Syndrome."
They also claim that while these individuals “are highly motivated to achieve,” they also “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.”
So you're telling me that moments of self-doubt and insecurity have a name??
I started working on Food Tribe last year because I was interested in combining my passions of food, entrepreneurship and social welfare; it was about starting a journey to figure out how I could turn the things I loved into a career, driven by a desire to leave the world a better place by ending hunger. No big deal, right?
In theory, starting a company is easy. You identify a market, find the opportunity, offer a value proposition, and go to market.
In practice: LOL.
Starting a business is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It never ends. There's always work to be done, skills to be learned, and stones left to turn. When you combine that with the stresses of daily life - bills, family, work - and it can become overwhelming.
That's why Impostor Syndrome has been particularly annoying. I'm very rarely the best at anything, but I'm pretty competitive at most things. If something interests me, I learn about it, and I try it out. After a while, I get better.
Launching a startup isn't that easy though. It's not always easy to measure progress, which can get pretty discouraging. It helps to be able to visualize the journey because you know there's an end in sight.
Startups don't work that way though. You have to be flexible and willing to pivot. You can't be sensitive to criticism, or unwilling to change.
You also have to balance that with keeping your vision and being tuning out the noise and opinions of others.
Basically listening to everything and nothing at the same time. Easy, right?
During the most stressful times is when my internal "Impostor" starts dropping seeds of self-doubt, frustration, and fear:
"If you were really serious about Food Tribe, you'd be pursuing it full-time."
"You don't have the background or expertise to make Food Tribe a profitable company, capable of generating recurring revenue."
"Ending hunger? Who do you think you are?"
What makes dealing with the "Impostor" so tough is separating him who I know that I am: confident, motivated, intelligent, and resourceful.
I've learned that by including friends and family on my journey, has been the best way of keeping the Impostor at bay.
Celebrating little wins with others - filming a web show, completing an accelerator, getting Food Tribe's first feature - helps remind me that while I may not have conquered the world today, there's always tomorrow.