Monday, August 22, 2016

4 Practical Ways to Benefit from Impostor Syndrome

are you feeling like a fraud?

So, you’ve landed a new, big-time content marketing client. Exciting times!

It’s the type of client you’ve wanted for ages, and finally, you’re getting your chance. You’ve scheduled your first meeting with her.

And that’s when the voices in your head start up:

  • Who are you kidding? You’re not good enough for this client.
  • Jane Smith — she’s a great content marketer. Maybe you should refer the client to Jane? Jane will do a better job than you.
  • There’s just no point to taking on this project — if you do, you’re going to be found out.

It’s impostor syndrome. Feeling like a fraud. And that’s okay.

You can actually benefit from impostor syndrome with a few smart tactics. Let me show you how.

Why impostor syndrome makes you a better service provider

Most professionals have experienced impostor syndrome at some point. We’re the most susceptible when we step outside our comfort zones (like when we’ve secured an amazing new client).

Here’s the great irony of the whole “feeling like we’re going to be found out” thing: it can actually increase as we get more competent.

Yes, that’s right.

The more we know, the more we become aware of what we don’t know and who knows more than we do.

Interestingly, this is why I believe impostor syndrome makes you a better service provider:

  • It indicates you’re highly competent.
  • Worrying that you won’t do a great job for your client shows that providing great service is important to you.

Who wouldn’t want to work with someone like you?

However, I know what you’re thinking:

“Yeah, it’s great to know I’m not alone in feeling like a fraud. And it’s nice that it shows I’m competent and I care. But that’s not helping me get past those voices in my head. Can you please do something about that?”

Well, yes I can. I have four practical strategies to offer you.

1. Stop making it all about you

Instead of worrying about everything you think you still need to learn about content marketing, focus on your client.

What are her specific needs, and what can you do to meet them?

And keep this in mind: the client hasn’t necessarily requested your services because she thinks you’re the world’s greatest content marketer.

She wants to work with you because you have the expertise she doesn’t, and she knows you can do a better job than she is able to do on her own.

2. Get clear on the deliverables

Fear is the major emotion that propels “feeling like a fraud” — specifically, the fear of being found to be incompetent. And nothing triggers that fear more than uncertainty about what the client expects from you.

First ask your client what made her choose you as a service provider. Then get very clear about the specifics of the project.

Once you have a good handle on your client’s expectations, the uncertainty causing the voices in your head to chatter away will quickly disappear.

3. Reframe the situation to build your confidence

Imagine that a peer of yours landed this same new client. How would you feel about that?

Would you:

  • Feel relieved the client didn’t call you?
  • Feel a bit gutted and wish you had the chance to work for that client so you could show her what you can do?

If you feel the first way, then yes, maybe it’s best to pass this client on to someone else. But if you feel the second way, it’s time to embrace this exciting opportunity!

4. Get to work

Steven Pressfield once said:

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.”

As we established above, the voice telling you that you’re a fraud is fear.

Since you’re a professional, you know what Pressfield knows: nothing trumps fear quite like taking action.

Acknowledge the fear, then set it aside and get to work.

Time to find a new comfort zone

Remember, we mostly only feel like a fraud when we’re asked to step outside our comfort zones. But, as we all know, the best personal and professional growth happens when we do.

So the next time those voices in your head start up and you catch yourself panicking about feeling like a fraud, remind yourself it’s something that can make you a better service provider (if you let it).

Then get busy taking the next crucial step — the one where you do a great job for your client and create a “next level” comfort zone for yourself in the process.

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