Impostor Syndrome is a term I had never until I got into the web design/Divi community and while at first, I dismissed it thinking it was something that didn’t apply to me, I soon realized I absolutely had these feelings.

Over my decade of experience in web design to date, I’ve learned some valuable ways to combat and overcome imposter syndrome which we’ll explore here.

First, the Wikipedia definition:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

And as mentioned in the episode, here’s the Harvard Business Review definition that I really like:

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.

Here are 5 ways to overcome imposter syndrome:

Side note: doesn’t mean you won’t feel it but these will help combat it and pull you through it.

  1. Nobody’s an expert – Feeling like you’re an imposter because you’re not yet an expert? Join the club! Nobody is an expert in web design because things change CONSTANTLY. There’s no way for someone to know everything.
  2. You know more than you think – It’s amazing when you start talking about a subject, whether design, development, sales, etc, and realize holy cow, I know a lot more about that than I thought! It doesn’t take long to acquire A LOT of knowledge which will help you combat feeling like a fraud. I guarantee you already know way more than you think!
  3. You don’t need to know everything – I’m very open in saying “I’m not sure, let me find that out,” whether it’s with clients or students. It can make you feel like a fraud, when you don’t know something BUT THAT’S OK! That’s why there’s this lovely tool called Google. We’re in an age where we really don’t need to memorize or “know” much when we can get an answer in seconds!
  4. Reflect on your successes – Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let a celebratory opportunity go by. Whether it’s reflecting on a completed project, landing a new client, fixing and issue, etc – make sure to not let those opportunities to reflect on successes slip by. 10 negatives always outweigh 1 positive so you need to cherish those moments and reflect on them. It’ll help with overcoming imposter syndrome.
  5. Enjoy the process – Perhaps most importantly, especially when starting out is to learn to enjoy the process of learning, growing and experiencing everyday. I firmly believe it’s the true key to happiness at least in work/career. Though I’ve experienced some success to this point, I haven’t “arrived” and I don’t think I ever will. You won’t either. Learn to enjoy the process and it’ll really help you in avoiding imposter syndrome.

So there you go! If you enjoyed this episode and post and have any thoughts, please share them by leaving a comment below!

In This Episode

00:16 – Introduction
02:25 – What is imposter syndrome
07:08 – Use other’s failures
08:27 – 1) Nobody is an expert
11:37 – 2) You actually know more
13:45 – 3) Don’t need to know all
15:47 – 4) Reflect on successes
18:45 – 5) Enjoy the process
21:39 – Recapping

Links mentioned:

Episode #010 Full Transcription

Josh 0:16
Hey, everybody, its Josh here. Welcome to Episode 10. In this one, we’re going to talk about overcoming imposter syndrome. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with what that term is, or what it means we’re going to talk about how it’s defined what it is to see if it’s something that you have experienced in the past, or maybe you’re experiencing now. And more importantly, in this podcast, I’m going to give you five ways to combat it and overcome it. And this is based off my experience as to someone who didn’t know what that term was, but realize, wow, yes, I absolutely have struggled with imposter syndrome. But I feel like in my decade of experience with doing websites, I’ve learned how to kind of combat it and overcome it. And I’m excited to share that with you in this podcast. Now, this one is a solo episode. So it’s just me, I actually had several interviews lined up for the last week of November.

Josh 1:03
But as a lot of you know, my daughter was due to come in early December, my plan was to get a bunch of interviews recorded and schedule them out through the rest of the month here. But she decided to get the party started a little early. So she was born on Monday, excuse me, November 25. And she was very healthy mama did great. We were all in the hospital a couple days. And we’ve been enjoying some time at home with newborn snuggles and stuff like that. But I’m kind of getting in the back of swing of things here now. And I’m going to be popping in a couple solo episodes with upcoming interviews as I need to get those rescheduled so on to this term called imposter syndrome. And again, more importantly, how to overcome it.

Josh 1:40
This is something as I mentioned that I had no idea what it was I had never heard it until I got involved in the web design community and more specifically the Divi community. And I saw this term going around called imposter syndrome. And when I first heard about it, I’d kind of dismissed it because I felt like it wasn’t something that really applied to me. But then I saw some definitions, and I heard people talking about it. And then I realized, holy crap, this is absolutely something that I have struggled with, and that I felt very early on like big time when I got started in web design. And I still feel it to this day and I’ll explain how and kind of why sometimes I still feel it. So let’s look at the official definition of imposter syndrome courtesy of Wikipedia.

Josh 2:25
And it’s such imposter syndrome also known as imposter phenomenon phenomenon, or imposter ism. Fraud syndrome or the imposter experience is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. And I’m doing quotations in that an important word that’s highlighted there is internalized fear, because it’s absolutely something that generally, we all just feel ourselves. Nobody else is feeling that. Now, if you google imposter syndrome, I also really liked the first article comes up, which is from the Harvard Business Review, and I will link this in the show notes for this episode. But it defines imposter syndrome like this. Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evidence success. imposters suffer from chronic self doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence, that override any feeling of success or external proof of their competence. So I really liked that summary of imposter syndrome, because I feel like that resonated a little more with me.

Josh 3:34
So as I mentioned, in the beginning, I felt this big time. And most notably, it’s probably, it’s probably very clear as to why I would feel like this. And you would feel like this or anybody else would feel like this in the beginning, particularly for web design, as I’m sure this can be felt with any industry. But with web design in particular, I think this is very common, because quite frankly, there’s just so much to learn. When you get involved with web design, you may get pretty good at design, but then you find out Oh, there’s SEO, there’s copywriting, there’s security, there’s domain stuff, email stuff is all these things that are involved with web design. And when you’re just getting started, you can feel like an imposter. You can feel like a fraud because you just don’t know as much as a lot of other people do.

Josh 4:22
But again, we’re going to talk about how to combat combat that. And I will say I still feel this to this day, it’s still something that I struggle with not as much, but it’s still something that creeps in every once in a while. And I think for me, quite honestly is it’s when I’m trying new things like when I started this podcast, I absolutely felt like a bit of an imposter because I’m not a podcast. Well, I guess I’m a podcaster now but when I started I’m like, you know I’m doing courses. I’m a web designer. I this is something brand new, so naturally I don’t know quite know what I’m doing. I’m going to feel like an imposter. And I felt this even more when I started doing courses. So I had I build up my web design career as a web web agency owner for nearly a decade. And when I started doing courses, and I started giving that knowledge back and experience of what I’ve learned back to other people, I kind of started to feel like, like, what the heck am I doing doing courses, I am a designer, I am a business owner, like, I’m not a teacher. And I really kind of had those feelings of doubt, and fraud in the beginning, because I knew there are people who are doing it a lot better.

Josh 5:25
But what I’ve realized, and what we’re going to cover here in these five points is that you can combat these feelings you can overcome them. It’s not to say that these things are going to make imposter syndrome go away completely, because again, they do creep up into my life. Still, even with the success that I’ve had in web design and courses and everything I’m doing now, I still often feel like, gosh, I kind of feel like a fraud, like there are just designers that are way better than I am. There’s developers that are way better than I am. There are podcasters, who speak way better than I do, you know. So it’s very common. And I will say there’s a couple of things I wanted to hit on. Before we dive into these five points.

Josh 6:03
The first thing that the first time, I really felt like this was, as I mentioned, in my first episode of the podcast, I told you my story about how I got started, and I started doing some classes at the community college for web design. And we started creating a contact form and styling it and I’ll never forget this, this was a huge moment in my life in my career. And we were in class and we were styling this contact form. And then I asked about how to actually send the contact form to a client or something like that, you know, to actually work because we just styled it, we didn’t actually talk about submitting it. And this dude, this douchebag in that class, who was very savvy, very smart, very advanced, I don’t even know what he was doing in that dream weaver class. He basically made me feel two inches tall and said something to the effect. Well, it’s done with this and this and you have to do some PHP and all this stuff. And he’s like, he basically told me like, duh, you idiot, this is how you would have to do it. And it made me feel very small. It made me feel angry, and it made me feel more Most importantly, like an imposter.

Josh 7:08
Now, I say that to say two things. That was very important for me because it was my first feeling of being a fraud of an imposter syndrome, because I was like, What am I doing here? I don’t even know how to let me know what he talked about what that what he was saying. But it also lit a fire in me to be very understanding of people just getting started out in web design. And I think that douche nugget, who said that was also the person who lit the fire in me to be a teacher, because he made me realize, you know what, like, I’ve never I think even walking out of the class, I remember thinking, if I’m ever successful in web design, I’m not going to be that guy. I’m going to give what I’ve learned back to people who are just starting out, and I’m going to share what I know. And I’m going to help build people up, not tear them down, particularly when they’re just getting started. So I don’t mean to get on a soapbox, because who knows where that dude’s at these days. But in any case, regardless of whatever, you know, comments he made, they did light the fire on me to do what I’m doing today. But they did cause those feelings as an imposter syndrome. And again, I still feel those today, but not as much as in the early day.

Josh 8:12
So here are the five ways to overcome imposter syndrome. Again, just as a side note, these will help you combat it, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be completely gone forever. Those feelings may come into play, but these things will definitely help. Number one, nobody’s an expert. This is perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned when combating imposter syndrome. Because it’s very easy. Again, when you’re starting out to feel like you’re a sham. When there’s people who are a lot better at designing than you, they’re better at developing, they know more than you. And you’re just learning one step at a time. It’s very easy to feel like that. But if I can encourage you any way to this is like the biggest thing that has helped me realize that imposter syndrome is just internal. And that’s that. While Yes, there are a lot of other people who know a lot.

Josh 9:02
Nobody knows everything, particularly in web design. It’s funny because people tell me all the time like Well, you’re the expert people tell me that in the Divi community and my students will will come to me for expertise. And while yes, I do know a lot about certain subjects, and I’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge in my decade of running a web design business and growing it. I certainly don’t know everything, and I’m constantly learning myself. And that’s one thing that has really helped me is that while Yes, there are people who have a lot of expertise in areas, no one is an expert through and through with every area of web design. Again, just think about it. There’s so many things that are involved Divi itself if you’re a Divi user or whatever theme you’re using or whatever platform you’re using. It updates constantly so there’s really no way like I don’t even know of the lead people with Elegant Themes are technically Divi experts because it changes so frequently, like there’s added they’re adding features all the time. So You know, there’s people who know a lot, but particularly when it comes to all the aspects of web design, there’s, again, SEO content, there’s design, there’s development, there’s all these different things. There’s no way one person is going to know everything about everything.

Josh 10:12
So just remember, nobody’s an expert. And again, it’s funny because like, clients will tell me, they’ll ask me questions about like, SEO. And they’re like, well, you’re the, you’re the SEO expert. And I’m like, I never ever claim that I’m an SEO expert. And I’m not even a design expert, or I’m not even gonna say I’m a web design expert. Because yes, I know a lot. But I don’t know everything. And it’s just funny. People just assume that you’re an expert, when you’re doing something. And sometimes that can lead to imposter syndrome, big time. Because if you’re viewed as an expert, but then you don’t know something, then you can feel like oh my gosh, I’m a fraud. And I really struggled with this, when I started doing my Josh stuff when I started doing tutorials, and giving out knowledge, because people would say, like, Well, how do you do this? Or this? And I’m like, I have no idea. I will, I’m gonna have to find that out as well. And some people, no one ever accused me of being an imposter. But I definitely felt like that, because I was like, should I even be giving out what I know as tutorials, if I don’t know this, so nobody’s an expert.

Josh 11:13
Things are constantly changing, there’s no way somebody is going to know everything. So if you ever come across some douchebag, like I did in the in the class, in the old days, just remember, they have some internal problems going on, and they’re taking it out on you. That person doesn’t know everything, either. So nobody’s an expert. That’s probably the the underlying thing that will really help you with feeling like an imposter, particularly in your early days when you’re learning. Now, this is a big one, too. You know, more than you think I actually heard this from a recent episode on the podcast with Stephanie Hudson. And she said that and it really resonated with me, and it made me think about that. Yes, you are absolutely right. It’s amazing how much you know, when you don’t even realize how much you’ve experienced and how much you’ve learned.

Josh 11:58
And prime example of this is, I’ll give you two one is when I started doing courses, again, I was at the point where I was like, should I even do courses, like, I feel like, you know, I’ve learned a lot. But like, for example, when I was doing my CSS course, I was like, there are people who are way better at CSS and I am. However, I’ve learned a lot. And I feel like I know enough now to do a really good course from start to finish for beginners. And I realized, like, once I started writing all that course out, I was like, holy crap, I have learned a lot like I do know a lot about CSS. And I felt kind of proud of myself when I started writing out that course, because I was like, dang, I, I didn’t realize I knew this or, you know, I did have to learn some things. And I was putting that course together, I learned about some things that cleared up some areas for me. But I realized, like, wow, I actually know a lot. And every course I’ve created, I realized, wow, I actually know a lot more about this subject than I thought, because it’s like, when you get going on something, you access these, these files that are in your memory banks. And you never know how much you know.

Josh 13:00
Now, the other thing I was going to mention is like with clients, a lot of times if I’m on a sales call or a meeting or something, they’ll ask me questions, and I just go right back to those files in my mind. And I didn’t even realize that I had those. So like, one client might ask me about something and I just zip over and start thinking about how I did this on a previous project, or if it is something I’m not sure of, I just let them know. And it’s been amazing. Like I again, it’s just, you know, a lot more than you think. So even if you’re just starting out, take it one step at a time, one day at a time. And every day, you’ll learn a little bit more, and then after no time at all, you’ll be surprised at how much you actually know. So number two is that you know, more than you think.

Josh 13:45
Number three, speaking of knowing things is that you don’t need to know everything. Now I just said when I was in a client meeting that a lot of times, I would, you know, refer back to previous experience or go back into the memory banks. However, if a client has ever asked me, you know about something, whether it’s SEO related or domain related or design or development related, if they asked me something that I don’t know, I am not shy at all to say, you know what, I’m not sure. Let me find that out. prime example of just a few months ago, we’re working with one of our clients who has, so we redesigned his site that had like, a ton of blog posts. So there was a lot of permalink and design stuff or URL stuff going on. And he had some old URLs that were showing up on Google that he wanted to delete. Well, I’ve never done that before. So he was I think I referenced him earlier. And the example of like, well, you’re there as SEO expert. And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m not sure. But what I said was, you know what, I’m not sure about that. Let me find that out. And then I researched it a little bit. And then we found out a way to get into Google Search Console and remove those links from Google.

Josh 14:53
So you don’t need to know everything. And that’s the beauty about technology now. And this little word called Google, you can just google everything, you really don’t even need to memorize that much. These days. I’m not even gonna get on my soapbox about tests and, and traditional academic stuff, because there is this tool called Google. And you can google anything you need to know at any point. And you can learn a lot very quickly. So you really don’t need to know everything. Again, you’re not going to be an expert on everything, because things move so fast in web design. So that should really help you out as well. Number three, you don’t need to know everything. Use Google, if anybody comes to a situation with you where you feel like you should know but you don’t just be upfront about it. Just say, you know what, I’m not sure about that. Let me find it out, and then actually follow through and find that out, and then give the answer of what you find out and it’ll go a long way for you.

Josh 15:47
Number four, this is a really, really important one. And it’s to reflect on your successes. And in the Was it the? Was it the second definition? Let me look back through? Oh, yeah, yeah. So a chronic sense of self doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence, that override any feelings of success. So, the reason I wanted to highlight that, again, is because regardless of how many website projects you finish, and how many clients you get, and how many projects go, Well, one negative can overpower 10. positives, it’s just the way it is. And a lot of times, if you’re not intentional about reflecting on your successes, you can, you know, those can be brushed it aside, and you can completely neglect that, you know, you’ve earned a lot, you’ve done a lot, and you have learned a lot. And if you reflect on your successes, whether it’s the completion of a project, whether it’s a client that just loves your work, whether it’s Blanding, a really good a new job reflecting on that will help you overcome imposter syndrome because it almost builds up like this tank that kind of combats, feeling like a fraud.

Josh 16:57
So ways you can reflect on your successes are pretty easy, you can literally just sit back and just meditate on it for a minute and say, you know, turn your email off, turn your phone off, and just think about, wow, I just landed this project, that’s freaking awesome. Or we just finished this project that is freaking awesome. Or I just had the check command. Like, there are a little ways that you can do that you can also I know one thing that my wife and I did for a while before we started having kids and this became a little more difficult is we would go out to like dinners to celebrate the success of a website launch. We still do that in some ways. Now we just do them less frequently. But there’s all kinds of ways you can kind of celebrate your wins and reflect on your successes. And again, those will help combat imposter syndrome. So the big thing is, you just you don’t want to focus on on on all the negative things because those things are going to come email is going to, you know, be be filling up with problems and client issues and website issues. It’s just the way of the industry.

Josh 17:54
But you don’t want to overshadow your successes. And I’ve learned in web design, in particular, to have a very short attention span. When it comes to feelings. I actually just talked about this and one of my Tuesday quick tips on my Facebook. And that is that you’re going to feel things on a much deeper level, whether it’s high or low. So a lot of times, like in the past, I would get done with a website project. But then a client would have a widget go down or something like that. And instead of reflecting on the success of that website launch, I would be focused on fixing this issue and it would be stressing me out. And then the next day, I’d be getting back into email. And then before you know what I completely neglected the launch of that project, and I didn’t get to really feel it and celebrate the success of that.

Josh 18:39
So take my advice, take my warning and reflect on your successes. Number four, it’ll go a long way. And now finally, this, I guess I’m gonna say they’re all important because they are but fifth I wanted I was intentional about ending on this one because I think this is the one that I perhaps want you to walk away with the most and that is to enjoy the process. This is perhaps the best way to avoid imposter syndrome because if you enjoy the process of learning and experiencing your business, experiencing design, experiencing your journey every day, you will be a much happier person all around and it’ll help you avoid imposter syndrome because particularly early on again, you’re just not going to know everything even going through all my courses you’re going to learn a lot but you’re not going to know everything. It just moves too fast the world of web design.

Josh 19:32
So you and I’m still preaching this to myself today this this concept of enjoying the process because I found that feeling happy on a day to day basis. workwise is really all about learning leveling up one step at a time and enjoying the process knowing that you know what I haven’t arrived yet success whether that’s financial or knowledge or where you’re at in business or whatever, like you’re not there yet. I’m not yet I’m doing some really cool things and I love, you know, the trajectory I’m on. But I’m not there yet. Absolutely, I’m not there yet. So I’m enjoying the process. And I really want to encourage you to do the same, particularly when you’re just starting out. Because when you’re just starting out, you’re gonna have to learn stuff, one thing at a time, courses, workshops, trainings, and a lot of other programs out there, we’ll help you get there faster. But it’s still a process. That’s one thing I teach in all my courses is that Listen, this is gonna help you get from point A to point B, a lot quicker, you’re gonna avoid a lot of the mistakes, the mistakes and trials and errors that I had, but your is on you, like you’re going to have to learn this, it’s going to be a day to day process still, and you’re going to find particularly in web design, it has to be that way. Because things keep changing so much.

Josh 20:47
So if you enjoy the process of learning every day of leveling up, and revisiting these five, these four terms before this, being that no one’s an expert, yes, there are people who are always going to know more than you and are going to be better than you. But you know, they’re not going to know everything. If you realize that you know that holy crap, I know a lot more than I think just just do this process every day, for a few months. Learn every day, read blog posts, do courses, do trainings. And then a few months into it, you may feel like a fraud still, but then you might realize Holy crap, I’ve learned a lot and I feel less like a fraud. And that will you’re on a really good path. And then again, you don’t need to know everything. And then if you reflect on your successes, those will all really help you combat imposter syndrome. and enjoying each one of those enjoying the process is huge.

Josh 21:39
So those five again, really quick win number one, nobody’s an expert. Number two, you know more than you think. Number three, you don’t need to know everything. There’s this little tool called Google. Number four, reflect on those successes. Do not let a celebratory opportunity pass you by, make sure you reflect on those successes. And finally, number five, enjoy the process every day, learn, grow, take those terrible times. And those you know, they’re their seasons where bad things happen. And there’s whether it’s life happens or whether it’s a website hack, or whether it’s a bad client experience. Don’t get too down on those use those as learning experience. Enjoy the process, make that to turn turn that into something good. And these will all help you overcome imposter syndrome.

Josh 22:25
So there you go, guys are my top five ways to combat this imposter syndrome. hope you guys have enjoyed this solo episode. Hey, before the outro kicks in here, one thing I did want to say is I had mentioned my Facebook, if you would make sure you follow me at Facebook, you just go Facebook calm and just search Josh and you’ll find my Facebook. If you don’t already like that page, please do and then make sure you follow it. I’m very actively engaged on there and I post a lot of stuff that you’re not going to find anywhere else online. So make sure you like and follow. And actually at the time of recording this I think I’m just shy of 2000 followers and likes so I’d love to cross that milestone here. So if you wouldn’t mind liking me on Facebook, that would be appreciated again, hope you guys enjoyed this episode and I’ll see you on the next one.

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