Stop Pretending

How Financial Advisors and Planners Can Defeat Impostor Syndrome

It’s ok to admit it.  Sometimes you think to yourself, “Who am I that people are trusting me with their investing?  There are lots of other advisors out there who know more than me.”

Or maybe that voice sounds like this, “I’m going to be found out.  Everything I’ve done so far is just luck.”

That voice you’re hearing is commonly known as impostor syndrome.  It is a feeling of inadequacy that constantly works to undermine your confidence.

It’s a concern felt by newer advisors who are still developing their skills as well as experienced advisors who question the validity of their apparent success.

This stream of negative self-talk will often result advisors feeling stuck or unwilling to take action. Psychologists will often refer to it as a limiting belief.

So what can you do?  It can be helpful to think of it as a battle between the limiting belief and an empowering belief.  Here are four steps to defeat impostor syndrome for good.

Step One: Know your enemy

Your first action is to admit that impostor syndrome is inhibiting your success.  What are some behaviors that you are or aren’t taking because of your belief?  Maybe it’s a call that you didn’t return.  Perhaps it’s the nervousness you feel when preparing for a meeting.  However it manifests itself, identify it and admit that you want it to stop.

Keep in mind that you want the behavior to change, but you don’t have to deny the good points of the belief.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know as much as you can.  In fact, that belief can foster a habit of consistently improving your knowledge and skills.   But since you can’t possibly know everything about everything, don’t let your desire for more knowledge hinder your success.

Step Two: Find a better belief

Look for something that can replace your limiting belief.  It should be something you believe is 100% true.

For example, you can say, “I will do everything I can to help this person.”  Or you can think, “I may not know the all the answers, but I am completely confident I’ll be able to find them.”

Another option is to use the adage, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” to remind yourself that no one cares about your client’s financial life as much as you do.

Or just be you!  I guarantee that there’s absolutely no one better at being you than you!

Step Three: Gather evidence

Start compiling stories and examples of where your better belief has been proven.  Write them down in a journal or “brag book” to document how you helped a client.  Think of all the times that you made a significant impact on your clients’ lives.  Even better, identify all the situations where your better belief triumphed over your feelings of an impostor.

Step Four: Reinforce the victory

Negative self-talk is just that: talk.  What matters are your actions.  You’ve just created a list of all the times where your actions to serve a client made a difference to them.

Put that list in a spot where you can review it on a regular basis, particularly when that voice starts to creep back into your head and tries to make you doubt your ability.

Here’s the best thing about defeating the impostor syndrome.  You can stop pretending.  Rather than trying to be someone you’re not or living up to an impossible standard, you can be authentically you – standing firm on your better belief, knowing that you can take action to serve your clients.

In All You Need is Love, John Lennon sang, “There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known,” but “you can learn how to be you in time.”

Be you and kick that impostor out of your head.

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