I still occasionally suffer from imposter syndrome and it can stop me dead in my tracks.
Just as an example, who am I to be charging people six figures to coach them, when they are doing things I have never done? Running companies, employing hundreds of people, spending millions of dollars?
But when I look at it more closely, the question, really, is who am I not to be doing that?
I have so much experience that my clients do not.
I have thirty years of personal development work.
Twenty-seven years of regular meditation.
Twenty-five years of coaching and mentoring, the last seven full-time.
I have coached several of my clients through investments and exits. Time after time I have helped them grow their businesses simply by getting out of their own way. By helping them to see through the unhelpful stories they are making up about themselves.
Like, for example, their own imposter syndrome!
So why do I still freeze up?
What Is Imposter Syndrome, Really?
My experience is that Imposter Syndrome is a feeling, a fear, that I’m not up to the task that have in front of me. That if people REALLY KNEW the real me, they wouldn’t be asking me, or paying me, to do that task.
Put another way, Imposter Syndrome can show up as a thought or series of thoughts any time I have any concerns for hesitation or fear that what I am doing might not succeed.
It’s an instinct that keeps us out of danger by keeping us entirely within our comfort zone.
If we allow it to, it keeps us small. If I listened to my Imposter Syndrome, I probably wouldn’t be writing on LinkedIn. Because you might laugh at me or ridicule me or disagree with me or not like me, and all of those things feel incredibly risky.
But I have learned that there is another way to use Imposter Syndrome.
As a pointer. As a gift. And there are at least two gifts that Imposter Syndrome can give you.
The First Gift—The Gift Of Growth
There is a reason you sometimes feel like an imposter, a fraud. Like you don’t know what you are doing.
You feel this way because you actually don’t know what you’re doing.
If you are running a company or even trying something new, you run into things that you don’t know how to do. Things that, to be successful, you have to figure out how to do.
Your Imposter Syndrome lets you know when you are on this edge. If you are a leader, if you are a high achiever, if you a lifelong learner, you will face this edge often.
It means you are continuing to stretch and grow.
If I’m not feeling this, regularly, I take it to mean that something is wrong.
What would it mean for you, for your potential growth, if you were to do the same?
The Bigger Gift—The Gift Of Insight
Another way of thinking about Imposter Syndrome is that the identity that you have taken on does not fit the task you have taken on.
It makes you uncomfortable. There might be skills you can learn to increase your level of comfort. Books you can read, certifications you can get. But there will still be that moment when you have to apply what you have learned. Providing feedback to someone on your team or implementing a strategy.
And these real world things will test you until your identity adapts to them. Until you begin to feel more comfortable and the story you tell yourself begins to accommodate the new learning.
In the gap between your old self and new self there’s an opportunity to see that any story you tell about the self (about the fact that there is even a solid self to begin with) is made up.
A convincing illusion.
I was just talking with a client about this. That the meaning he is giving to the upcoming sale of his business, about whether one multiple is a success and another a failure, about what one multiple means about himself as a success or a failure, is all made up. Even what he says other people are thinking about him is made up.
There is freedom on the other side of this.
Not that it is meaningless. “Meaningless” is a story, too.
But that we are free to live into whatever assumptions we want to make about life. We are free to define our own journey. We are free to take on whatever stories we want to tell ourselves and to experience those stories in their full resonance.
I would love to hear what this might mean for you.
How To Go Deeper
More and more corporate people are coming out of the spiritual closet and seeing their work as a vital personal journal to both abundance and meaning.
This is what I write about. For founders, for original thinkers, at all stages of this journey.
The world needs YOU, in all your brilliance and imperfection.
If you are a founder wanting to scale and sell your company, there are three shifts in identity that can help you do so with twice the impact and half the stress. Take a look at this video.
If you want to build a coaching business where you get to be yourself, help amazing people, and replace your corporate income in the process, here’s a video where I share the top three mistakes I see coaches make when trying to build a sustainable business—
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