Has this phrase ever crossed your mind?
“One of these days, everyone is going to figure out that I am a fraud.”
Well, have you? Good! I know I have. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Emotional honesty is worth some self-kudos.
Good? “You’ve got be kidding,” you might be thinking, “That’s not good. That’s messed up. And it makes me crazy.”
Yup. It is messed up. I know a lot of smart people like you that have had exactly the same thought. Some might attribute their success to luck. Others to someone’s help or an accident. There’s a name for it – it’s called the Imposter Syndrome. The Syndrome (not really a syndrome by the way, but a great name) is experienced by many people, especially high-performing people. Psychologists have studied it. Books have been written about it. It’s a real phenomenon.
Sometimes the Syndrome is a great friend. It drives you towards excellence, keeps you on your toes, pushes you forward. You might seek more education, read more books, attend more conferences. Good, right?
Here’s the thing. The Imposter Syndrome is also holding you back. It’s a nasty little voice. And it lies.
You know what you know, you have achieved what you have achieved, and, with the hard work you already do, you will continue to grow. You’ll be fine.
But you want to be more than fine. You dream big, have big ideas.
Imagine this for a second. What would it be like if you weren’t driven by a fear of being found out? What if you acknowledged that fear, and then stepped right over it. What would be possible on the other side?
That’s called courage, and I know you have it in you.
The Imposter Syndrome stands between you and innovation
First, go watch this video right now. It will take you 5 minutes and 55 seconds and you will be glad you did.
Twisted, right? The Imposter Syndrome actually stomps all over your ability to create amazing, innovative things. Imagine what that nasty Imposter voice is saying to the people on your team, too? What does that mean for your team’s ability to innovate? Yikes.
Repeat this mantra ten times
Innovation requires failure.
Failure requires risk.
Risk requires courage.
Courage is knowing fear and moving forward anyway.
What’s to be done?
We’ve named the voice. We’ve talked about how it stands between you and innovation. How can you really cultivate courage to overcome the voice and dig deep creatively?
My favorite way to gain courage? Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance is the notion that whatever is happening now just is – it’s not good or bad, it just is. When we accept ourselves just as we are, both the light and the dark, we become more content, more relaxed, and more powerful. We captain our ship – our ship doesn’t captain us.
Here’s something really simple you can do to build courage and take on this voice.
First, take Dr. Pauline Rose Clance’s Imposter Test and discover how big this voice is for you.
Second, notice the voice when it happens.
Today, notice when this voice makes an appearance. Don’t try to scare it off or shut it down. Be curious. Invite it in. Sit down and have a conversation.
Third, talk to the voice.
Remember – it is not literally telling you that you are a fraud. You aren’t. Not even close. There’s another message there.
Ask the voice, “What are you trying to tell me, [name of voice here – I call mine Saboteur]? What do you want for me?” (Examples: You running up against something challenging and I want you to be safe.)
Fourth, thank the voice and tuck it away.
Now that you’ve noticed the voice, invited it in, and gotten curious about, thank it and send it gently away. It will probably be back, but, hey! Now it’s an old friend.
From here, now that you’ve named and talked to that voice, what’s possible? Is there a project that seems more doable? A relationship you want to strengthen? Could you apply this to your team? Do you have space for new ideas?
Tell me below what you learned!
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