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Nail fear of failing before it bites

Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoniN

Most women often exhibit traits that can be detrimental to their businesses. They find themselves stuck in situations the Entrepreneur magazine calls the “analysis paralysis”.

It can be explained by those days when you seem not to get anything done, or you worry that even if you took action, it would amount to nothing.

I am a strong believer that women are not their own worst enemies. But because of cultural beliefs engrained in their system, however, they tend to beat themselves to pulp.

In her book, Lean In, Sherl Sandberg says women suffer a condition called the Impostor Syndrome, where an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Simply put, it is the feeling that we women are not good enough or qualified enough to take on a task despite evidence of success and competence. High achieving women are likely to suffer from the impostor syndrome more intensely than any other group.

As a female entrepreneur, you need to know the signs and symptoms of this condition and do away with it before prevents you realising your potential.

You use every excuse in the book

You have a great idea to grow or kickstart your business but it is months since the bulb went on and there are no signs that you will implement it any time soon. Asked why, you give a myriad of excuses including, you do not think the idea is good enough.

You are a perfectionist, that idea will not be implemented if it is not perfect by your own standards. Its time you knew perfectionism and procrastination are very good friends. Unfortunately, perfection is the thief of time.

You are stressed and anxious

When the impostor syndrome kicks in, you always worry that you are bound to fail. Succeeding all of a sudden feels like the biggest burden in the world, bigger than actually putting in the work.

You might go as far as believing that if you do not implement the project, no one will see that you are not good enough to successfully carry the project out.

You become a doubting Thomas in your abilities

A very good opportunity has fallen on your lap. It will pay back handsomely. But you ask yourself, can I really do this? Did they make a mistake in giving me this contract?

Wont I fail them? Your inner critic, who is most of the time the worst of critics that you will ever face, can easily get the best of you especially when you are trying to determine your selfworth.

You compare yourself to others

In any line of business, you are bound to have competitors. Some have accomplished much more than you, not necessary because they are very good but because they have been in the game far too long, are lucky or have taken more risks.

The moment you start comparing yourself to “so and so”, believing they can execute a certain project better than you can, then the dreaded syndrome has hit you.

It is important to understand that we can never be equal. Before you compare yourself to others, it is important to know that your journeys are different. The fact that someone got there first does not speak to your incompetence.

You focus on inability

If failure to complete a task becomes an excuse to beat yourself up then you are also exhibiting symptoms of the impostor syndrome. You bully yourself for not being as productive as you had earlier envisioned.

The weight of tasks not completely weighs heavier on your conscious that the joy of having accomplished a lot that day. The more you take time off to beat yourself up, the less you get accomplished. It is always a self fulfiling prophecy. But do not worry, help is on the way!

Overcoming this monster

According to a recent study on the gender differences in impostor syndrome, women are more likely to increase their efforts against the impostor syndrome that men are. Take advantage of this natural tendency and kick out this monster. The first step is to acknowledge that you suffer from the syndrome. Then take the advise you would give a friend going through this. Give yourself some empathy.

Give yourself permission to fail. In any case, failure is a stepping stone to success, and in this case to say no. You will feel the weight melt off your shoulders. Take praise where you can. If your employees tell you are a very good boss, believe them. Remind yourself of projects you took on successfully.

This will lift your spirits when the pressure gets to you. While at it, create a daily positive mantra to live by. Instead of, “ my company will never sore to the heights of Mary’s”, tell yourself, “my business is thriving because I am doing it my way.

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