What’s Holding Your Business Back? Three Common Blocks

In 20 years of working with women founders, I have found three common “Brand Blocks” that I have dubbed, The Syndrome Sisters. Let’s identify them, overcome them, and move forward — a critical first step in owning who we are and stepping into our power and the full potential of our impact.

Syndrome Sister #1: Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever asked yourself: “Why would anyone want to listen to me?

It goes like this: when women begin to feel somewhat successful, we start to feel guilty that we don’t deserve it. This guilt can manifest itself in a few ways:

We downplay our accomplishments. We highlight our faults and insecurities.
We make it sound like anything good in our lives just happened upon us.

Where does it come from?

To understand the root of it, we need to go all the way back to hunter-gatherer days.The need we women have to remain likeable and relatable is stemmed in a deep-rooted tribal mentality that says we need to “stay with the pack” and “not rock the boat” for fear that we will be ousted from the tribe. If we are too individualistic or different, we are selfish. We must stay in line for the benefit of the whole.

It’s meant to keep us small. It keeps us in a state of wanting to please everyone. It keeps us perpetuating a very old belief system that was designed to keep women “in line.” So we play it safe: if we dare show or even feel pride in our hard work and in our uniqueness, we’re just showing off. When we set ourselves apart too much, we are excluding ourselves from the pack. Better to play it safe and not cause any waves. 

But by feeling like we have to please everyone, we keep ourselves from fully putting ourselves out there and sharing our value with others. We end up diluting our true message to play it safe. All we end up doing is a disservice to those in our audience who need our message the most.  When we willingly participate in Imposter Syndrome, we signal to other women that they should keep themselves small too. We hold us all back.

How can we overcome it?

Let’s instead support each other in owning our power. Let’s call each other out when we downplay our successes in an attempt to be more likeable. Let’s do the work and get to the core of who we are, whom we are here to serve, and what we can each uniquely offer.

Once you discover the truth of your truth, you simply don’t feel like an imposter and don’t need to make excuses for your happiness.

Own it, and know that in doing so, you empower other women to own it too.

Syndrome Sister #2: Perfectionist Syndrome

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m worried I’m going to make a mistake, so I’d rather not do anything.

This is the idea we hold that we are not allowed to fail. And if we do fail, it’s our fault — we should have known better, we should have done better. So we protect ourselves by staying in our safe little comfort zones, never to put ourselves out there again.

Where does it come from?

This is a such a difficult block for women to overcome because it is so deeply ingrained in us from when we were little girls. We grew up believing that little girls are supposed to be pretty and perfect, in our pretty dresses and shiny bows with our perfect hair. This alone signals to our brains, “I should sit still and not mess this up.” We were taught manners and etiquette. Raising our voices or getting a little wild and messy was discouraged.

It’s inevitable; in your business journey, you are going to experience many lessons along the way. But these provide us with valuable information so that we can decide what to do next, and it helps us get clear about what we want the next time around.

Failure isn’t the end of the road but an opportunity to change direction that is better aligned with where you want to go.

How do we overcome it?

When you can let go of being perfect, it allows you to do a few things. You own who you really are. There’s no need to compete. There’s a place for everyone. You realize, it’s not about you, it’s about them. You can give yourself fully to the audience who can really use what you have to give. In other words…get over yourself! And just do the work.

So ask yourself: Without fear of how it might look, what others might think, or how it might take you off a competitive track, is there something in your heart that you know you should be expressing and putting out into the world? Every step on your journey has brought you here, and here is where you are meant to be. With this knowledge, where will you go next?

Syndrome Sister #3: Martyr Syndrome

I’d guess that most women are guilty of this one at some point in their lives. “I don’t have time to focus on myself
(or my own brand or my own happiness). I have too much to do.

Where does it come from?

In addition to women growing up feeling like they can never stray from the pack and never make a mistake, women also tend to place the burden on themselves of taking care of everyone around them. For many women, it is how we feel needed and relevant.

I have to, I have to, I have to… is often repeated internally as you grudgingly do more and more. Reality check: You don’t have to. You choose to. And I’d even argue that you get to. You have the freedom to take responsibility for your actions and happiness.

It’s a vicious cycle of victimhood that we put ourselves in and continue. It’s no one’s fault but our own.

How can we overcome it?

Take responsibility for your choices!
Prioritize what’s important to you that will make you happy.
Find gratitude every day. Shift your perspective. Shift your mindset.
Release the resentment you might hold towards others. Think of all of that time and energy that you could get back to do something more positive?

Surrender the Syndrome Sisters and step into your power.

Can you now see how acting “humble” is really just an excuse to protect your ego, and keep us all small?
Can you now see that believing everything has to be perfect is really just fear?
And can you now see that your choices and your time are yours, and owning how you choose to prioritize them is up to you?

You are the builder of your brand. And you can’t build the best version of your business if you aren’t working on the best version of yourself.

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