Superman still lives on Krypton and the rest of us are just doing our best. - Seth Godin
Do you have imposter syndrome?
Take the test.
Have you ever:
- Felt like a fraud?
- Have the feeling of being unworthy or undeserving?
- Feeling of incompetence, that you don't have the right skills or experience?
- Say things like "What am I doing here?" or "What the heck am I doing?"
- Said to yourself "I'm an imposter"?
If you answer yes to one or more of this, you are likely suffering from what is commonly known as the imposter syndrome.
It's the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Typically affects successful people but in truth, it affects almost all of us at some point. For me it happens when I'm in the growth zone - whether a new role at work or a doing something I've never done before.
Most people talk about fighting imposter syndrome. But there are a growing number of people who are saying you can embrace it and use it to your advantage.
I was listening to a podcast between David Perell and Seth Godin recently and as they were talking about imposter syndrome, Seth said something that blew my mind.
I don't think I'll think about imposter syndrome the same way ever again.
Here's what he said from the podcast:
Of course you feel that way, because you are an imposter and so am I. If you are doing work that hasn't been done before which means creativity or leadership, then you can't be sure it's going to work because it's never been done before.
Instead of denying how you feel you might look at how you feel as a symptom that you are doing something important and generous.
And when that feeling shows up, we can welcome it and sit with it.
The harder we try to make it go away, the more powerful it becomes.
David then added;
Fear is the evidence that we are doing something important.
I find this so profound. Changing my perspective of the feeling of fear around doing something new or exciting.
We can embrace the fear. We can dance with it. This is for me the hardest things to learn because I tell people all the time that I love to grow. But growth is scary because you've never been there before.
I found Seth's blog where he wrote about this, the last paragraph is profound:
Time spent fretting about our status as impostors is time away from dancing with our fear, from leading and from doing work that matters.
Putting this in practice, I will question myself less, embrace the fear and do things anyway. Writing and publishing your work online is scary, but that's the edge of growth right? I want to continue to embrace that fear and do work that matters.
I wrote in another article that being truly ready is an illusion. We start before we feel ready. Don't let fear stop you from experiencing growth.
I found some extra content from Ali Abdaal and the stories he shares about what he learned as he experienced imposter syndrome to be so useful as well. I've linked the video below.
Here are the 3 big ideas pulled from Ali's video:
- "What's obvious to you is amazing to others." - Derek Sivers
- "The spotlight effect" is the idea that we have a spotlight on us and think people are judging us all the time. The truth is people are thinking about themselves.
- You don't have to be a guru, you can be a guide. Someone with similar interests to come along in the same journey.