THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME:
Back to school season reminds me of one the traps I often see people fall into when going into a new environment: feeling like they’re not good enough and don’t belong there—also known as imposter syndrome.
Before I share my key lessons on how to never let imposter syndrome hold you back again, let me normalize something for you: You’re not special—everybody has days where they struggle with whether they’re actually good enough, whether they’re an imposter, and whether or not they will be able to pull off their dreams.
THE HONEST TRUTH:
My honest answer to those moments of crisis? Maybe you’re actually not good enough—yet. I emphasize the word ‘yet’ because, without it, the vast majority of people get hung up and quit—and that’s what actually holds them back, not the fact they’re not good enough.
So what do I do when I find myself questioning my skills?
- Accept that you’re likely not a good enough leader, artist, writer, entrepreneur, friend—or whatever it is that you’re struggling with—YET;
- Adopt that the belief that only one thing matters: you can GET good at anything. Repeat that in your head over, and over, and over;
- Obsess over the thought that you can get good by actually pouring yourself and all of your energy into acquiring that skill.
WHAT TO DO?
What does that look like in practical terms? On the days that you feel good: go kill it, crush it, create your best work, build your confidence up. On the days you feel like you’re not good enough: go back to step 1 and repeat that process relentlessly.
Trust me, not being good enough is not a death sentence; believing that it’s a permanent state of affairs is. That’s where people really get trapped and fall into a death spiral. They’re so devastated by the realization that they’re not good that they stop trying. But if you’re not trying and not even your ‘bad work’ is getting out there, you’re not getting any better—and that’s how you hold yourself back from achieving your dreams.
Seth Godin has an amazing reflection about this: “Everytime someone tells me they’re a bad writer, I ask them to show me their bad writing. The reality is, most people don’t have it”—they’re so convinced that they’re bad that they just give up and never get better.
So here’s my one takeaway for you:
Giving up, not being bad, is the ultimate dream killer.
Keep repeating to yourself that you can *get* good at anything, obsess over acquiring that skill relentlessly and I guarantee you won’t let the imposter voice in your head hold you back from executing on your dreams.
Until next time, my friends, be legendary,