The one thing you can do to destroy imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the buzzword for freelancers and “creative professionals.” Every blogger and graphic designer and social media marketer I know talks about imposter syndrome.

Maybe they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Maybe they think their audience is going to expose them to be the fraudulent charletains that they feel like they are.

Why we suffer from this

Everything is transparent. Or at least people would make us believe that it is. Everyone wants to show us what they’re doing. For a while it was people trying to show us how awesome they were.

Then it switched to showing us how real they were. Then it switched to telling us how real they were WHILE showing us how awesome they are.

The truth is that for MOST people, social media is a highlight reel. I don’t post all the logos that the client loved and went with and I hated.

I don’t link out to the websites that have stuff on them that I wouldn’t want on a grade 7 class website.

I don’t show me sitting on the coach wondering if I’ll ever get another client again.

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We show the highlight reel.

And so when we see these highlight reels we think;

“I’m not there. I’ve never been there. I’m never going to be there. I should probably get a job.”

It’s devastating.

How to destroy imposter syndrome

So what can we do if we want to avoid imposter syndrome?

Well, it’s easier than it seems. It’s going to sound simple and dumb at first, but stay with me and work through it.

Stop being an imposter.

I recently read a piece about this time being the era of the generalist; individuals that have a little bit of skill and knowledge across a wide variety of topics and can implement basic strategies across multiple areas, industries and platforms.

I really hope not.

What this brings forward is truly mediocre work. This is where we get the same content on the same platforms. It’s a giant echo chamber where we see the same thing over and over again without any variation whatsoever.

Thus, the imposter is born

For a lot of people, this is where imposterism is born. People feel like imposters because they are. I’ve done this myself. It’s hard to turn down the money when you know you could do an OK job at something.

But try to avoid it.

Build a network of people that can crush it in VERY specific areas. Find someone who is THE BEST Google analytics person that you know.

When you need them, use them. Find someone who CRUSHES, truly madly deeply, SEO. When you need them, use them.

Find the the thing that you’re GREAT at or WANT to be great at. Make sure you’re great at it. Then go be great at it.

But, what if I’m not great at it?

If you want to get started and you’re not great, and you know you’re not great, don’t ruin it for people that are great by telling everyone how great you are.

It’s ok to grow with your clients, as long as they know that’s what you’re doing.

There are alternating opinions on this. I think a bunch of them are wrong, but for the totally right reasons.

You don’t want to lead with, “I suck.”


But worse than leading with “I suck” is sucking, much to your clients surprise.

The rules

  • Don’t tell people you can do something that you can’t
  • Don’t suggest to people that you can do something that you can’t
  • Don’t show people that you can do something that you can’t
  • Hone your craft
  • Practice your craft

Don’t be an imposter and you can forget all about imposter syndrome. Share your thoughts in the comments.


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About Mike Tanner

Mike Tanner is a stay-at-home father of two, creative agency founder at OneRedCat, and coach & consultant with Really Little Wins. He’s a regular contributor to Hustle & Grind, Yummy Mummy Club and CBC, is a board game enthusiast, and his first non-fiction book, Really Little Wins, will be available soon.

Also, make sure to check out Mike’s weekly podcast, Riding In Cars with Cats, where he talks all things entrepreneurship.


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