Feeling Like a Fraud is BS…OR Is It

Do you ever observe someone in your field of expertise explode with charisma and knowledge in front of you as they suck you into theirBusiness team presentation/webinar – whatever they are presenting at the time.

You may think to yourself, I could do that.

Maybe in time as my expertise grows, I’ll be able to produce or provide similar services or products.

You educate yourself, practice, step out and make solid offers to potential clients and BAM…success happens!

Things start happening, you’re busy as hell, clients are happy, it’s all good.

Many of us want to leave our mark on the world, so we try to inject ourselves into situations/groups/clients that we hope will help maximize our skills and success.  

Yet, as the business grows we begin to doubt that this is due to our own innate ability to provide awesome services and products, maybe it’s just dumb luck.

Do we at times put too much pressure on ourselves trying to achieve success?  Or, when we have achieved a certain level of success, we don’t feel like we’re deserving of it and we get in our own way of receiving what is coming next?

As a result of the carnies discussion for this months topic, I discovered how much this thought process had a name and how much it has affected my attitude, energy at times, and eventually the bottom line.

This post is part of this months Word Carnival topic “The Impostor Syndrome. Feeling like a fraud? You’re not alone“. Make sure to visit here and check out what the other fabulous carnies have to share.

You Are Not Alone

“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.’”

– Maya Angelou

It’s always reassuring to know that you are not alone.

I am a work in progress, but aren’t we all. There is nothing like learning something new and growing from it. In this day-to-day grind, regardless if it’s running a business, or growing a career, we have to seize the opportunity to learn at each juncture  – positive or negative.

I did not realize there was a name (Impostor Syndrome) for these symptoms “(from Geek Feminism Wiki):

  • not applying for jobs, promotions, and other employment opportunities
  • not submitting papers to conferences or journals
  • disclaiming or understating their experience/skill when speaking or writing
  • nervousness about talking to others in their field, especially if those others are perceived as highly skilled/experienced
  • feeling like a fraud
  • worrying that someone will find out their lack of qualifications and fire them
  • having higher stress
  • overpreparing for tasks
  • attributing successes to chance or luck”

I have experienced everyone single one, what about you?

Listen to Others

At first I thought this was the type of thing that only happened when I started my business. Stern businesswoman pointing finger

I had to “fake” that I knew how to do certain things that I was offering.  I knew that my competition offered it, I knew that I had the skills to perform the tasks, but I really had not done all of it; so I faked it.

At that time, I did not have the doubt, in fact it was just the opposite.  I figured with the experience that I possessed and my skill of learning new things quickly, I could accomplish what was before me; and I did.

I continued to gain new clients, new projects and all was progressing.

Oh, oh…confidence level is low…what the hell?

It wasn’t until after the business had grown, at the time I could not take on another opportunity, but the doubt crept in.

I worked hard to turn that doubt around to a positive thought and told myself it was time to up my rates.  My skill level had improved and it was time to believe in my worth. Things were more consistent but I knew I was not charging my worth, I struggled with it.

During a business meeting with a group of women that I respect highly and love, there was a discussion about my rates.  They were shocked and it felt like appalled too…I was not charging enough.

That slapped me in the face, it brought a hard reality to light and I was devastated; uplifted because it was necessary, but devastated nonetheless.

I suppose like anything else, the first step is to accept reality. That was hard.

As I researched for the carnival, I find out there is a name for this doubt that keeps kicking me in my ass.  On top of it, I have more that one of the symptoms!

Support Always Helps – Give Yourself Credit

As I said earlier, I am a work in progress.  Through the coaching and conversations from my closest friends, I have learned to hold on to their positive energy. Step the hell up and keep it movin’.

At times I doubted them too.

One of my very first clients told me 7 years ago, when I told her about a conference I was attending, that I should be teaching at the conference versus learning from them.  She has always been more supportive than I have given myself credit for.

After I attended the conference, $1500 dollars later, I discovered she was right.

It’s one thing to accept that this is reality, it’s another to accept that this is my life and I am in control.

I am a firm believer that thoughts become reality and it’s key to make sure that those that I surround myself with, who are whispering in my ear, are there for the greater good.

Our lives must contain friends, clients, and colleagues that believe in our worth and support us.   We are here to lift each other up when necessary.

Maybe it’s about finding your passion  – check.  Maybe it’s about realizing that this feeling like a fraud is NOT BS…it’s real – check.

Now, what are you gonna do about it?

  • I’m listening to my truth…thankful for the opportunity to participate in this carnival –  for once again, I am learning something new.
  • I’m focusing on those things that are working and keeping me motivated.
  • I’m looking at those negative feelings that are not serving me well and replacing them with the positive feedback (without hesitation) my closest friends shower me with.

Most importantly…each opportunity to remove the doubt must be seized…it’s time to kick the impostor to the curve!



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  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    “A work in progress” – love it! You said so much truth here I would just be repeating it all but one thing you said was really interesting… in the beginning you knew you were doing things you weren’t skilled in, but you were confident you could learn and do them. Only later did doubt creep in – probably AFTER you knew a whole lot more!

    I think partly, the more we learn the more we realize there is to learn. We think wow, if I learned ALL THIS, imagine how much more there is in the world! We start to see things as bigger and we recognize that expertise is more than learning a task. So really, all that doubt is the sign of a good professional. Someone who wants to keep being better, keep learning, keep doing their best. (A work in progress!)

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Carol…I agree with you 100% and so love how you put that..I have always, always worked hard to learn more and more. I appreciate you greatly!

  • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    This is one of your best posts, Michelle! So heart-felt and real. And so glad that you see your worth!

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Tea..I never understood that fear of success people have spoken about…I do now..I appreciate you as always!

  • clarestweets

    The best cure for feeling like a fake is listening and getting in touch with your truth. Most of us got into business for ourselves because we knew we had something special to offer. Time and tide can wear us down but wisdom like this post puts it all back into perspective.

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      I 1st decided to start a business out of survival..I was angry at the corporate world and I never wanted to depend on anyone else again. The passion comes in with the “type” of business and understanding my skill set as well as what I enjoy the most. I want to offer something special to the world…but have not completely uncovered that yet…thanks Clare

  • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com/ Sharon Hurley Hall

    This is so true, Michelle. I especially like your last point about replacing negativity with positivity – it’s the best way to recognize your own value.

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Sharon!

  • SandyMcD

    That line just popped out Michelle, ‘Being a work in progress. Aren’t we all.” Yes! And like any fine piece of work, it takes time, dedication, commitment, focus and yes some talent! What is even more inspiring is that when you’ve done it and some, then you are closer to being on the stage teaching then in the seats learning. The funny thing is that when it happens, you almost can’t remember the journey. Thanks for a lovely post full of encouragement to listen to our truth.

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Sandy, appreciate you greatly!

  • Michelle Nickolaisen

    I love this line: “I am a firm believer that thoughts become reality and it’s key to make sure that those that I surround myself with, who are whispering in my ear, are there for the greater good.”

    The way one of my coaches described it to me is that that voice is like a cranky three year old – if you can recognize it as such, then when it shows up, it’s easier to placate it (give it chocolate or something and send it away, haha), but once you recognize it for what it is, you can more easily acknowledge WHEN it does show up, and make sure that it’s not the one driving the bus, so to speak; and replace its voice with a more positive one.

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      I like that Michelle, it’s those little voices that truly makes or break us at times…I intentionally and consistently work on the positive. I slipped for a minute, but it’s back and feels so much better. Thanks for taking the time and sharing as well!

  • http://www.WTFMarketing.com/ Nick Armstrong

    I actually hate the word “thought leader” as I think it’s overused as a self-applied title by people who are actually not thought leaders at all. I had this funny moment the other day at a meetup when – having said all of 10 words, folks started quoting me on things I’d brought up at past meetups, reaching back at least 3-4 months and I sort of sat there, wowed that my words had had that much impact over time that they were being quoted back damn near verbatim.

    This particular meetup group is one that I frequent because there’s so many brilliant minds there, to have been quoted by them is a real treat.

    Anyway, I like what you’ve said here Michelle! Solid post! :-)

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      I agree with you and what a wonderful compliment…You are unique and I think you do an excellent job putting it out there…Appreciate you greatly Nick!