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How to Knock Out Imposter


Imagine the tension and anticipation as two boxers step into the ring, gloves laced, eyes locked on each other with fierce determination. Each move they make is calculated, each step a strategic decision to outmaneuver the opponent. This scene, filled with focus and precision, mirrors the journey of an entrepreneur embarking on the challenging path of building a business.

A Woman Boxing
Woman Boxing

For entrepreneurs, especially women who venture into the realm of business ownership, the initial stages can feel like stepping into a boxing ring. The opponent? Often, it's not the market or the competitors—it's their own self-doubt and the pervasive imposter syndrome that whispers of inadequacy and fear.

Just as a boxer must observe their opponent and adapt their strategy, entrepreneurs need to focus intently on how they can overcome imposter syndrome. They must prepare not only to face external challenges but to conquer the doubts that arise within. This preparation is crucial; it's about sharpening your mind and spirit to become resilient and adaptive.

The boxing ring of entrepreneurship is fraught with challenges, but it is also where focus is forged and victories are envisioned long before they are physically realized. Here, the importance of preparation cannot be overstated, as it equips you with the tools and mindset necessary to endure and thrive amidst the uncertainties of business.

In the early days of my entrepreneurial journey, the arena felt vast and intimidating, much like stepping into a boxing ring under glaring lights with an audience of doubts and fears watching every move. The most daunting opponent I faced wasn't the competitive market or the steep learning curve; it was "me" — or more precisely, the imposter within me. This adversary whispered incessantly about inadequacies, questioning my every decision and move.

To conquer this, I had to systematize my passion for communication and digital strategy, infusing it with joy and resilience. It was crucial to transform my approach from merely engaging in business to truly living it and loving it. This meant aligning my daily actions with my deepest values and aspirations, ensuring that every task, no matter how small, was a step towards a larger, fulfilling goal.

One key strategy was to stop waiting for the perfect moment or the ideal setup. I started with what I had, which wasn't much — just a dollar store table and a makeshift office space. Yet, it was from this humble beginning that the foundation of Turning on the Lights Global Institute was built.

Each day, I stood in front of a simple mirror, repeating to myself, "My name is Dr. Allana, and I am the president of Turning on the Lights Global Institute." This affirmation might have seemed trivial to an outsider, but it was my way of grounding myself in my identity and purpose, reinforcing my resolve and slowly chipping away at the imposter syndrome that loomed large.

This daily practice was not about combating a lack of external resources but confronting the internal narratives that threatened to undermine my progress. By affirming my role and my mission, I was not only reminding myself of who I was but also who I could become. Each repetition was a strike against doubt, a jab at the shadows of impostor syndrome.

As I gained momentum, the bouts with imposter syndrome became less frequent and less intense. I learned that the key to winning this match was not to deliver a knockout blow in a single, glorious swing but to accumulate small, consistent victories that built my confidence and solidified my identity as an entrepreneur.

This phase of my journey taught me the power of starting—just as a boxer must step into the ring to have a fighting chance, an entrepreneur must take actionable steps towards their vision, however daunting it may initially seem. In the early days of stepping into the entrepreneurial arena, I recognized the power of connecting with others through the medium they frequented most—social media.

I decided to take a bold step in 2015, a move that would later prove pivotal in building my confidence and extending my influence: I went live on Instagram. This wasn’t just any live session; it was a series where I dared to incorporate elements of my personality, blending professional insights with personal anecdotes, all set against the backdrop of Diana Ross's iconic song, "I'm Coming Out."The choice of song was deliberate. It was an anthem that resonated with my generation, and it set the tone, a declaration of stepping into visibility, of emerging from the shadows of doubt and imposter syndrome. Each live session was an act of defiance against the internal critic that so often held entrepreneurs back from their full potential.

The impact of these sessions reached far beyond my expectations. Before long, I had built a community of 23 women who tuned in regularly, their locations spanning from London to various cities across the United States like Boston, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The connection was palpable, even through digital screens, and it spurred a bold idea: to host the first International Women Build Confidence Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The conference was a physical manifestation of the virtual connections formed. When the 23 women and I finally met, it felt as though we were picking up a long-standing conversation among close friends, rather than meeting for the first time. The event was transformative. We shared stories of overcoming personal challenges—divorce, illness, and mental health struggles within families. It was a space of mutual empowerment and recognition of the strength each woman possessed, a strength often overshadowed by personal and societal doubts.

This gathering was not just a conference; it was a testament to the power of taking action against the intangible barriers of fear and imposter feelings. It underscored the importance of community and support in the entrepreneurial journey—elements that are often underestimated yet are crucial for sustainable growth and self-assurance.

From these experiences, I learned a vital lesson: confidence is built through action. By stepping into the arena, by being visible, and by connecting authentically with others, I was able to transform the narrative of self-doubt into one of empowerment and leadership. This journey of going live on Instagram and organizing a successful conference was a clear round won against the imposter syndrome in the boxing ring of entrepreneurship. It was a round that taught me the irrepressible strength of communal support and the undeniable power of showing up, not just for others, but for myself.

Reflecting on the journey from those initial days of facing my imposter to now, the challenges have been numerous but so have the victories. Starting with a vision and a makeshift office, the road has been paved with lessons on resilience, adaptability, and the power of self-belief. Each challenge, whether it was financial uncertainty, the steep learning curve of digital marketing, or managing client expectations, brought with it a chance to grow stronger and more confident in my abilities as a leader and an entrepreneur.

One significant challenge was expanding the business without compromising on quality or losing sight of the initial mission. It required a delicate balance of strategic planning, resource management, and maintaining a deep connection with the core audience. It was crucial to set realistic goals, not just in terms of financial outcomes but also in the impact we aimed to have. This meant sometimes having to say no to opportunities that did not align with our vision, learning to delegate more effectively, and focusing intensely on the core activities that drove the most value.

Another area of growth has been in learning to trust my own instincts more. In the past, the whispers of imposter syndrome made me question my decisions and led to periods of indecision. However, through experiences and the steady build-up of small wins, I've learned to trust in my unique perspective and skills. This self-trust has been instrumental in navigating the business through turbulent times and in making bold moves that have significantly paid off.

Through it all, the importance of focusing on essential tasks cannot be overstated. It's easy to get caught up in a flurry of activity, especially with the plethora of options and paths available in today's digital world. However, understanding what truly moves the needle for the business and dedicating the majority of resources to these areas has been key. It's about doing fewer things but doing them exceptionally well.

As entrepreneurs, we often face the temptation to chase after every new trend or opportunity. However, the real growth comes from a deep understanding of your business's unique value proposition and relentlessly pursuing excellence in that domain. This focus is what eventually leads to sustainable growth, a strong brand reputation, and the ability to make a genuine impact.

Conclusion: Three Steps to Knock Out Imposter

As we reach the end of this narrative, reflecting on the journey of entrepreneurship likened to a boxing match, it becomes clear that the most crucial bouts are often with our internal adversaries. Imposter syndrome is a formidable opponent, but it's not invincible. Here are three actionable steps to help you knock out imposter syndrome and move forward with confidence in your entrepreneurial journey:

  1. Build Your Self-Confidence: Remember, you are five-star material. Just as you would expect top-notch service in a first-class setting, set high expectations for yourself and how you handle your business. Engage in activities that boost your self-esteem. This might involve joining business networks, participating in workshops, or simply surrounding yourself with positive affirmations about your capabilities. Your self-worth will grow with each small victory, so celebrate them and let them reinforce your confidence.

  2. Get Real About Your Numbers: Concrete data is your ally. It’s easy to get lost in dreams and forget the groundwork. Begin by assessing your current business metrics—be it sales, client engagement, or social media reach. Understanding these numbers will not only ground your business strategies in reality but also highlight areas for improvement and growth. Schedule regular check-ins on your progress and adjust your strategies as necessary to ensure you are moving towards your goals.

  3. Focus on Your Focus: In the words of James Brown, "Get up offa that thing!" It’s time to stop buying into the narrative that you can’t succeed. Narrow down your tasks to the essentials that contribute most significantly to your business goals. Avoid overcommitting—saying 'yes' to everything can scatter your focus and dilute your efforts. Prioritize tasks that align closely with your business objectives, and don’t hesitate to delegate or defer less critical tasks.

By following these steps, you not only challenge the imposter within but also create a robust framework for your business that focuses on growth, resilience, and self-assurance. Remember, every entrepreneur faces doubts and fears, but not everyone decides to fight back. Be the one who does. Take control of your journey and shape it with intent and conviction. The ring is yours; own it and let your business flourish under your confident leadership.

 Dr. Allana Da Graca

President, Turning On the Lights Global Institute.

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