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This is the monster you must master to succeed in life

Somewhere in our ideas there is a creature that feeds on the doubt and judgment we make of ourselves. Where did it come from and how to beat it?

This article was translated from our Spanish edition. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"I am a hoax."


The phrase comes as a whisper almost always at the same time, when I am about to send my weekly contribution to Entrepreneur . What seemed like a good idea has suddenly turned into perpetual doubt. Tangled, the words get complicated on my computer screen and after reading them over and over, I question their reason for being.

The subject, at first logical and attractive, ends up getting tangled and in a desperate act my head asks me to think again. Although I have been writing for more than three hours, I begin to believe that it would be better to put everything back and start over.

Other idea. Another text.

Although it wouldn't do any good. Insecurity always accompanies me when I write about entrepreneurship.

What can I know about the subject?

If I got here it was by chance. By a combination of factors and poorly made decisions. Because of the crisis of 40. Because one fine day, after more than 6,000 working days, I got lost in my own decisions. Because I lost my job and had to start over.

My cruel brain repeats it over and over again: I've never had a startup ; I have not obtained millionaire investments; I am not an entrepreneur .

Before giving up, I pause for a moment and then I remember: what makes me feel like this is not the lack of knowledge. It is the voice of the impostor within me.


It has always been there.

Not just in my head, but in that of 70% of people: the rusty idea that we haven't gotten where we are on our own merit. We feel that luck has helped us. We are the product of chance and that is why we live believing that we do not deserve what we have. The worst thing is that we live in fear of being unmasked at any moment.

A question in a meeting. A comment from the boss. The questioning of one of our subordinates. A problem that we do not know how to solve.

Something will be enough for the small representation of ourselves to collapse and we are exposed to the world as what we think we are: inexperienced and incapable beings.


We live in perpetual fear that someone will discover us and return us to the place we deserve: a dusty corner where recognition does not and will never exist.

Imposter syndrome was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes . Those of us who suffer from it are everywhere: company directors, employees, teachers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, actresses and writers. Even well-known celebrities have said they live in fear that someone, one day, will discover their null talent: Kate Winslet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Robert Pattinson. And if they suffer from it, what awaits us?


The origin of the syndrome is usually in perfectionism. In the idea that what we do should not have a single flaw. Because if it does, if something is wrong, we scourge ourselves and question our ability. When we fail we feel like our entire trajectory collapses as if it were made of sand. In the silence of our heads that voice repeats to us again and again what we already know (and we hope that others will never discover): that we are a deception.

We suffer. We doubt. And fear is the beginning of a vicious circle that drags us and bends us. The road to perdition. Because once it starts to do so, the voice might never stop whispering that we are useless. That we are not enough.

Even though we are Emma Watson. Or Hermione Gragner.

The voice repeats the lie so many times that we end up believing it. And then we freeze. If we have a question, we do not express it. Why? It could be a sign of our incompetence. Nor do we venture into new projects, we prefer comfort zones. We move only in familiar waters and in the end, we harm ourselves. In addition, we work around the clock: at dawn and at weekends wanting to compensate for our imagined incompetence. If we work harder than others, they will never realize our lack of capacity, right?


The problem with the syndrome is that it ends up hurting us. Much more than we imagine. It is a constant suffering that results in paralysis. It lacerates us. It freezes us. It destroys our wings.

That is why it is important to learn to tame it. The impostor is the monster that inhabits ourselves. How to beat it? Every time he murmurs his doubts, we must respond with forceful words.

You have to talk to him and if he doesn't listen to us, yell at him.

Let's say we can. That we are strong. That we have come a long way to get to where we are. That we have worked. That we deserve what we have. And that, despite him, we continue to write the story that we, and not our impostor, decide.

That in truth he is the only deception.