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I’ve worked in the online environment for a very long time. My very first “online job” was powered by a dial-up connection, a 14k modem and an HTML 4 for Dummies textbook. It would be fair to say that over the 20+ years I’ve worked in Internet marketing circles, I’ve built up a ton of experience and achieved a great many things that I’m exceptionally proud of. Despite this, I still get the occasional bout of self-doubt.

Impostor Syndrome

I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s called “impostor syndrome,” and while it might not stop us from achieving our goals, it can certainly slow us down.

What Is Impostor Syndrome?

Wikipedia tells us: “Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.”

A Self-Imposed Roadblock

As I travel the country (and further afield), speaking with clients about their content, email marketing and social media activities, I meet countless individuals who suffer from impostor syndrome.

They can normally be identified because they ask a variation of a single question: “Why should anyone believe anything I say?”

My answer is simple.

If you can demonstrate your ability based on previous experiences and highlight successes using real data and testimonials, your position as an expert is well grounded.

Conversely, you should always be suspicious of anyone who is not able to back their story up with real-world experience. Successful people in sales and marketing are often referred to as having the “gift of the gab.” This is beyond insulting. Success can only be measured by long-term achievement, and a slick presentation will only take you so far.

Find a Cure

If you suffer from impostor syndrome, it’s time to find a cure. Take stock of your achievements and the network of people you have worked tirelessly to build around you, and celebrate your success.

How have you overcome a bout of impostor syndrome? Share your comments below.