Get All Access for $5/mo

The 3 Biggest Secrets Entrepreneurs Keep Which one are you suffering from?

By AmyK Hutchens Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Looking in the mirror at the end of the day can be a painful endeavor for entrepreneurs. It's that raw moment when they drop the "fake it till you make it" smile. They let their anxiety seep through their pores, and wonder out loud just exactly how much stress, frustration, life lessons and wrinkles they will physically endure before they hit their target numbers or shake hands with their next investor.

Related: Confident Entrepreneurs Deftly Overcome Impostor Syndrome

It's that raw moment when entrepreneurs -- and this may include you -- come face to face with their secrets. These are the secrets you'd prefer no one else discover. And here, you may feel isolated, but you're definitely not alone.

The reason is that everyone keeps secrets, and entrepreneurs are no exception. In fact, there are three specific secrets entrepreneurs share that prevent them from achieving greater success, faster: imposter syndrome, self-criticism fixation and comparison condition. When not addressed, these afflictions truncate success. When they are overcome, however, not only do they unleash potential but help entrepreneurs meet and often exceed their goals.

1. Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome occurs when entrepreneurs experience feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt that persist even when a closer look indicates that the opposite is true.

Entrepreneurs often have the internal mantra, "I do not belong here. I'm not worthy of being taken seriously, and everyone will soon discover that I'm a fraud." Unfortunately, many successful, smart, talented entrepreneurs believe they are neither good enough nor have enough to play in the coveted sandbox of "innovator and game changer." These entrepreneurs end up behaving poorly in an attempt to cover up their fears.

What's more, those that fear being "caught" may avoid taking risks that could reveal their perceived inadequacies, or they'll settle for less, not believing they deserve better than mediocre results, mediocre talent or average opportunities. Those fears undermine their success by manifesting real-life mistakes and self-induced failures.

When entrepreneurs replace their feelings of inadequacy and paranoia about being discovered a "fraud" with a healthier, more realistic assessment about their strengths and contributions, they build self-confidence. When they focus less on their skill gaps and more on how best to leverage their gifts and talents, they create new value.

How might your own self-doubts be inhibiting your ability to lead?

Related: 5 Things Entrepreneurs Caught in Comparisons Should Remember

2. Self-criticism fixation

A self-criticism fixation occurs when entrepreneurs are so hung up on their past transgressions that they can't believe in their future excellence. Entrepreneurs are notoriously hard on themselves for early mistakes and failures. They often allow their perceived regrettable moments to cripple their potential or truncate their ability to successfully execute their next idea.

These hang-ups influence whom they hire and fire, how and when they make decisions and which relationships and partnerships they prioritize. They define themselves by mistakes instead of assessing the knowledge they have gained from past missteps and identifying how they turned that knowledge into wisdom to avoid subsequent, similar mistakes.

Letting go of resentments and grudges against ourselves is perhaps more difficult than letting go of others' trespasses against us. Yet, it's imperative for entrepreneurs to do exactly that. The point is not to avoid accountability, it's to accept responsibility for the lesson. Once entrepreneurs realize that business and life are long learning curves, they can more readily let go of past mistakes and more expediently and effectively bring fruition to their next big idea.

If you were to love your followers as you love yourself, should your followers be warned?

3. Comparison condition

Comparison condition is one of the worst forms of entrepreneurs' self-abuse. Many entrepreneurs are so busy comparing themselves to other businesses and other entrepreneurs, living in a world of "should haves" and "should bes," that they lose focus on their own path to success. When entrepreneurs compare themselves this way, they end up taking detours, trying out other people's paths. They dilute their talent and ultimately lose their mojo.

When that happens, they drift too far, often burn out and lose their followers. In contrast, staying on your own path is integral to focus, productivity, performance and results. It's hard to charge full-steam ahead when you're always looking sideways.

What have you done when a case of the "shoulds" hits you? How have you adjusted the internal conversation to be healthier and more supportive of your own ideas?

When entrepreneurs are willing to expose the secrets they keep -- if only to themselves, and then work through them -- they can positively and exponentially transform their business success. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs say they pay a high price to chart a new course. And that price may well reflect on the secrets they keep.

Related: 6 Actions You Can Take Every Day to Build Your Self-Confidence

AmyK Hutchens

Author. Speaker. Trainer. Business Strategist.

AmyK Hutchens is an international, award-winning speaker and author of the Amazon bestseller, GET IT: Five Steps to the Sex, Salary and Success You Want. AmyK shares with entrepreneurs, go-getters and influencers how to be Master Communicators.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

Your Business Will Never Succeed If You Overlook This Key Step

A comprehensive guide for startups to achieve and maintain product-market fit through thorough market research, iterative product development and strategic scaling while prioritizing customer feedback and agility.

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Leadership

How to Spot the Perfect Executive for Your Company

Hiring senior talent to run a team is a crucial moment in the story and trajectory of a company. Whether you need to hire senior talent now or are looking to gather insights for the future, it's important to be prepared for a gap in a crucial leadership position.

Side Hustle

This Former Disney Princess Lived 'Paycheck to Paycheck' Before Starting a Side Hustle at Home — Now She Makes $250,000 a Year

Victoria Carroll's income was "sporadic" until a friend encouraged her to take her talents to Fiverr in 2018.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.