How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome in Your Quilting Business
We’re often hyper-critical of ourselves in our quilting businesses which is why we’ll be tackling how to beat the imposter syndrome in your quilting business.
How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome in Your Quilting Business
WHAT IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
Before we can tackle the ugly monster of Imposter Syndrome, we need to define it. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the imposter syndrome is “commonly understood as a false and sometimes crippling belief that one’s successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill.”
Imposter syndrome is crippling and drains all the joy out of quilting businesses. All of your customers already believe your great at what you do. Now it’s your turn to believe in yourself. I have 5 tips that might help you tackle the Imposter Syndrome beast.
LESSONS FROM MY MOM
When I tell people I was raised in a law enforcement household, people assume my Dad was the police officer because that was the norm back in the day. However, it was my Mom that was the cop.
There wasn’t much of a chance for me to get into trouble because Mom was also a graphologist; she could “read” handwriting. She could look at a signature and just know if that person was lying or concealing something. Most mothers would scan over their kids homework to make sure they were understanding the subject matter. Not my Mom! She could scan my homework and “read” if I’m up to something. This was all normal for me. I thought everyone grew up with a gun-wielding graphologist as a mom.
THE SCOURGE OF NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
I often hear comments from other longarm quilters like:
- “I will never be as good as (fill in the name of your quilting hero)”
- “My feathers will never look like (your quilting hero of the day)”
- “I’m sticking with meandering because I can’t compete with (who’s the quilter you look up to)”
No judgement zone here because I’ve heard these very same comments come out of my mouth. Then one day, after years of confessing to my customers all the “mistakes” I made on their quilts, I realized something that has changed the way I pursue my quilting business.
HAND vs BRAIN
Did you know that handwriting is a brain activity, not a hand activity? My Mom drilled that concept into me as a child. It wasn’t until I started my longarm quilting business that this concept really exploded in my world.
If it is true that all handwriting is a brain activity, then quilting would also fall into that category of brain activities. So, if quilting is a brain activity, that must mean every stitch created on a customer’s quilt becomes your unique signature.
Remember, I was raised in a law enforcement household where everything becomes about law and order. As a quilter, if I’m striving to be like my hero quilter, and I’m practicing to accomplish their “signature quilting”, then Mom would call that forgery, which is a federal offense.
I know, that escalated quickly from being critical of my quilting to forgery. So how did I solve this pesky little problem of hero worship and begin grow in my quilting business?
STOP FOLLOWING THE HEROES
The constant “looky what I did” on social media was really doing some damage to my confidence. What was meant as inspiration, became a relentless nagging of all my inferiorities as a quilter. It’s difficult to reach our full potential when we’re getting daily updates from “experts in the field” of all the things we haven’t accomplished yet.
As soon as I got rid of the daily doses of quilting achievements, I made room to learn and grow at my own pace. I was able to develop my own style. I was able to hone my own signature.
If I need help with something very specific, I know where I can find them.
ADMIRE WITHOUT WANTING TO ACQUIRE
It’s OK to admire the quilting work of other quilters. The damage to our confidence happens when we strive to be just like our hero quilters. I admire their ability and how they make everything look so easy. However, I no longer feel the need to be just like them. If there is a design element I admire in their work, I find out if they’ve used any special tools that will help me achieve a new design.
For example: I recently took a class from one of my favorite quilters. I purchased the practice panel and the ruler required for the class. I followed the directions for as long as I could. Before I knew it, I was zigging while she was zagging. By the end of the class, I had a completely different design but it was still pretty. Looking around the class at everyone’s quilting, I could see everyone’s work was much different than our quilter teacher. That doesn’t mean she failed to teach her quilting elements. It just means everyone has a unique signature and interprets information in their own special way.
PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION
Let’s face it, perfection is very difficult to maintain. Always hitting your mark and appearing perfect all the time is exhausting. It sucks all the joy out of learning and growing in our quilting businesses. It also leaves zero wiggle room for anything other than perfection.
As long as my quilting is better today than I was last year, that’s progress. Even if I’m just a little better, that’s still progress. In my world, that’s called WINNING!
ALLOW A WIDE SWATH OF GRACE
What if I make a mistake? U-turns are allowed. I just grab Jack the ripper (my handy dandy seam ripper), take out my stitches, and start over.
What if I keep repeating the mistake? That is your brain overriding the process and creating an even better design element. At this point, I will purposefully keep repeating my “mistake” and call it a custom design element. Every time I’ve turned my mistake into a design element, my customers are thrilled.
NEVER POINT OUT MISTAKES
Full disclosure, I still have my moments of keeping a tally of all my goof ups. Those days don’t happen as often as they used to. Unless something serious has happened in the process of quilting and it affects the overall appearance of the my customer’s quilt, I never point out all my little mistakes. All that does is gives voice to all my insecurities as a quilter. That old saying of “if you can’t say anything good, don’t say nothing at all” is just as important when speaking of yourself and your quilting.
YOU’RE ALREADY SOMEONE’S QUILTING HERO
Your customers choose YOU to stitch your unique signature onto their quilts. If they wanted (insert your quilting hero’s name here), they would send their quilt to them. When your customer hands you money for your service, they are essentially giving you their vote of confidence because YOU’RE ALREADY the quilting hero.
Happy Quilting, My Friend
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