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What is imposter syndrome? Do you have it?

The dictionary defines imposter syndrome as “a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success.”

If you feel like you have imposter syndrome, here are two reasons why: 

First, you may have a title, designation, certification, or degree that you feel didn’t equip you with the tools you need to truly be good at what you are doing. Maybe you are saying you’re an expert or specialist, but you really don’t feel you have enough knowledge to justify that claim. 

You may be right. The fact is, the real estate industry perpetuates the notion that because you took a short one or two day class, you are ready to be a “specialist.” The fact is, it takes significantly longer than a two day class and more time practicing to gain the experience and knowledge you need to become a true expert in ANY field. 

Solution: Keep learning, keep growing, and keep gaining experience. Take more classes, get a coach, find a mentor, read, study, practice! Go above and beyond what your industry had decidedly “sold you” on what it takes to be a true expert. If there are thousands and thousands of people with the exact same credentials, chances are that credential isn’t top shelf material. Avoid using social media likes and followers as your gauge of expertise. Anyone can get followers, but not everyone with “influencer” status has subject matter expertise or experience. Don’t confuse the two.

Another theory for your feelings of having imposter syndrome might be that you simply lack confidence or are a bit too humble. Maybe you really DO have the expertise to be considered an industry expert and you simply aren’t giving yourself enough credit. 

I had a conversation with a friend and colleague a few days ago. Someone who I both admire and respect a great deal. She is a trained and experienced licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a master’s degree and has been a successful business owner, real estate agent, and senior move manager for many years. She was questioning her expertise AND her value during our conversation. It took her a bit to accept my honest and forthright acknowledgement that she IS AN INDUSTRY EXPERT. She is one of very few real estate agents with the level of knowledge, education, and skill set relevant to masterfully serving the mature homeowner. She is very humble and puts people before property or profits, which is rare in the real estate industry. 

Humility is a great quality – as long as it doesn’t impede your ability to grow and shine in your field. 

People need and want true experts who own their expertise, but who aren’t arrogant or self-serving in the process. They appreciate it when an expert shows up who they can relate to and who appreciates their need to maintain control and autonomy over their decision-making. 

Solution: Take stock of your years of experience, knowledge, training, and give yourself credit where credit is due. Ask your closest family members, colleagues, and friends what they see in you and whether they envision you as an expert or specialist in your field. Tell them to be honest and to explain why they think you are (or aren’t) an expert. They will often see in you the things you take for granted or downplay and should also be able to give you specific evidence that you may not have considered. If they are honest and not simply stroking your ego, they will be able to bullet point all the reasons you are different from the typical agent they have met or know. 

Furthermore, reflect on how many people are asking you for advice or who want to “pick your brain.” This is usually an indication that you have something that most people don’t possess – knowledge and EXPERTISE. This isn’t about “ego asks,” like on social media where people don’t really KNOW you. This is about people who seek you out in person because they have watched you from a distance or someone has told them you are the one to ask.

Here at Seniors Real Estate Institute, we aren’t in the business of giving lip service to the words expert, specialist, and professional.

We know that to TRULY be good at what you do and to master the art of serving longtime homeowners, downsizing seniors, and families with complex circumstances involving people at their later stages of life, we must be on our game. We must have the professional solutions and personal character necessary to help people in situations when everyone else would simply be guessing.

If you have basic training, but feel like you aren’t quite at the “specialist” level yet, we want to talk to you! Chances are, you have what it takes and just haven’t found the right community to help you grow and mature in your professional capacity. 

Too many brokers think you just need the letters behind your name. Maybe for some things that’s good enough. The mature market requires more. The customers we serve need and deserve professionals who are TRUE specialists and real experts. 

Learn more at Seniors Real Estate Institute. 

Our basic course, Success in Seniors Real Estate, is PhD written and led. It is taught only by experienced CSHP’s who have PROVEN they know their stuff. 

We are often told by students that the work required to earn the certification as a Senior Housing Professional (CSHP®) is like getting a master’s degree. We can promise one thing though, once you have completed it, you won’t feel like an imposter!