Am I Good Enough?
I would wager that everyone has asked themselves this question at some point. Or some version of it.
As Founders scale their businesses, in venture-backed terms right around the time they raise their Series A, this question often keeps them up at night. As the business and team grows, the problems that land on the Founder’s desk are more complex — the ones their team can’t solve; the stakes are higher; they own the mistakes and give credit to their team for the wins (at least the great ones do).
As a result, they feel anxious, insecure, and uncertain. This can lead to indecision or poor decisions, self-sabotage, controlling behavior (aka micromanaging), or your team losing confidence in you or a transfer of those feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
This question of “good enough?” is linked with imposter syndrome, a common, crippling mindset found among high achievers. One study found that 65% of professionals suffer from imposter syndrome.
Those with imposter syndrome feel like a fraud. They doubt their competence and accomplishments. They will attribute their success to luck, market trends, or timing.
As I was watching Inventing Anna on Netflix (who isn’t?), I thought about imposter syndrome. What can we learn from her behavior? She is clearly the antithesis of imposter syndrome. At first blush, I was thinking “fake it til you make it” or “fake it til you believe it” but “fake” = fraud. Not helpful.
Play to Your Sweet Spot
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Fact. Yet, many with imposter syndrome, tend to have a skewed perception of their actual capabilities. They don’t see what others see despite evidence of concrete skills and expertise.
Maybe ‘fake it til you believe it’ is really just filling the gap between our negative perception of self and the reality of our capabilities.
The more you play to your strengths, the more confident you feel about your capabilities. It increases those good hormones that fight stress — less sleepless nights! Remind yourself of your successes — keep a list handy, or screenshot a client testimonial, or a great press piece.
Know what you don’t know. The challenge for high-achievers and experts, is the more you know, the more aware you are of what you don’t know. So, learn. Do your homework.
When Anna’s friend Val was asked how he knew she was the “real deal”, he remarked it was in the details. What she wore, knowing the hot spots, what to order, or what wine was the best, not the most expensive. She studied. And she leveraged her strengths.
Stop Playing the Comparison Game
Good enough? “Enough” as compared to what? What we see portrayed in traditional media or the filtered images on social media. Are you comparing yourself to Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, or Whitney Wolfe Herd?
The stories we read are often about the end result, the success story. They don’t talk about the missteps, defeats, and moments of self-doubt and insecurities Founders feel. The stuff Founders don’t talk about because they feel they can’t talk about with their team or co-founders, for fear of being judged or found out.
High performers have equally high standards. Know when to replace perfectionism with good enough! Recognize the self-evaluation standards that are playing into your imposter syndrome.
One study found that 20% of SBE suffer from imposter syndrome, and 45% of those think someone else could do a better job. Successful Founders that have experienced hockey stick growth, fear a market turn that will leave them on the chopping block.
Find Your Posse
Anna hung around with the right crowd. People with access, with connections, and a lifestyle she wanted.
Surrounding yourself with advisors, mentors, other founders, and people outside your company, promotes your growth. You learn from their mistakes, you hear the “dark” side and challenges of building a successful business. The stuff the media doesn’t cover.
Let me leave you with a great Anna quote, “VIP is always better.” You just have to “be willing to do the work”.
Have a growth mindset. Uncertainty leads to feeling that there is something you need to fix about yourself. Maybe, maybe not. Learn what you can and delegate the rest to those who have the skills and experience you need.