Essentially, the impostor syndrome is a result of unconsciously holding ourselves to an unrealistic standard for business leadership.

I recently returned from the World-Changing Women’s Summit, a gathering of more than 200 business women who share a commitment to elevate business. To say it was an inspiring three days is an understatement, but one lunch conversation really stands out as enlightening. After we settled in with our food, introduced ourselves, and wandered through a number of topics, one woman made an interesting comment. She said that even though she comes to her work with a great deal of experience and education, she can’t seem to shake the sense that she is not quite bringing the value she wants to her clients.

Another woman named the experience as the “impostor syndrome.” This refers to an inner sense of being somehow undeserving of success. And she added, from her experience, it gets worse over time, not better. Her perspective set off a flurry of insights and comments.

Collectively, we summed up the situation as a misunderstanding about the nature of success. Essentially, the impostor syndrome is a result of unconsciously holding ourselves to a cultural standard that reveres professionals who appear to have it all together—no wrinkles or misspellings, confident and articulate, and, of course, no financial stresses. The appearance of success at all costs.

But in reality, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, we push limits, experiment with new ideas, and challenge the status quo. We are forever setting ourselves in motion toward yet another stage of being a work in progress.

Therefore, the antidote to feeling you don’t deserve your success is to take a deep breath and remember what is true: You bring great value to your clients, you consistently give it your best efforts, and your commitment to making the world a better place is admirable.

Being authentic is messy. Wrinkles happen. And hanging out with others who are on a similar journey can help you overcome feeling like an impostor and get on to the business of being you.

Roberta Ryan

Roberta Ryan, owner of Ryan Business Design, is a business coach, writer, and group facilitator with a passion for engaging in the elevating-business conversation. To find out more, please visit RobertaRyan.com.

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