Chances are good that there are people reading this who feel like they are imposters. You might find yourself in a roundtable at the International Hoof-Care Summit or a farrier clinic thinking, “I’m not as smart as these people. I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve to be here.”

It’s called imposter syndrome and, believe it or not, it’s relatively common. As many as 82% of people have feelings that they haven’t earned their achievements, according to Dr. Dawn M. Bravata’s research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“Many people think that feeling like an imposter is unique to them,” Susan David, PhD, co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching, tells Mass General Brigham Hospital. “It’s something that many people go through, including very high-functioning and competent people.”

Men and women handle imposter syndrome differently.

Men generally tend to feel greater anxiety and perform poorly when confronted negatively about their abilities. They often surround themselves with those who are less competent, avoid risk and don’t challenge themselves.

Women generally try harder and perform better when facing the same negativity. They are more likely to feel insecure about how they execute the task and second guess themselves. Women tend to move toward their fears, achieve their goals and yet remain consumed with insecurity.

Beating Imposter Syndrome

How do you overcome it? Psychologists suggest several tips.

  1. Talk with trusted peers. Discussing your feelings reduces the sense of shame and loneliness. Honest, positive feedback bolsters your view of yourself.
  2. Celebrate successes. People with imposter syndrome often dismiss their achievements. When someone congratulates you, don’t downplay or deny your success. Thank them and reflect on their compliment. Keep a log of your achievements and the compliments you receive. Most importantly, regularly review and reflect on them.
  3. Avoid perfectionism. No one is perfect. Recognize mistakes as learning opportunities for growth rather an exposure of your failure.
  4. Share failures. When was the last time you learned from success? We learn from mistakes and failures. Sharing these moments provides opportunities to compare your situation with others, learn from them and create sensible expectations and goals.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone. When you’re serious about hoof care, the farrier industry welcomes you. It bends over backward to help you improve. Farrier events such as the International Hoof-Care Summit, the American Farrier’s Association Convention, the National Alliance of Equine Practitioners Conference and the many local farrier clinics help establish relationships with those who are trying to improve.

Augusta Mae Wott of Fremont, Ohio, finds that a welcoming, learning environment like the Summit affirms what she’s doing well in her business while breaking down barriers that stifle growth.

“As I sat through lectures, I realized I knew a lot of the information and had applied a lot of it in my work,” she says. “Talking and collaborating with other professionals, I realized I had experiences and ideas to bring to the table. I was given permission to ask questions and not feel like I needed to know all the answers to hold the title of farrier. Even the top farriers in the industry don’t have all the answers. We can all learn something from each other.”