Written by Ann Dosen
According to Harvard Business Review, “imposter syndrome” is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.
Normally, I’m a pretty confident person. I’m laid back; I assume everything will work itself out. I don’t concern myself with what other people think. I just do my own thing – in my personal and professional life. If you know me, you probably agree.
However, last weekend, while on vacation, I texted Sarah the following message. “I’ve never experienced this before, but the whole drive here I was having ‘imposter syndrome’ thoughts. Like, who the hell do we think we are trying to pull off [3 BIG THINGS WE HAVE IN THE WORKS]?!?! I’m freaking out a little bit.”
Thankfully, Sarah came back with, “Dude. We are hard core and brilliant. Believe and know your worth.” Unfortunately, even though her words were encouraging and made me chuckle, I was still scared.
Have you ever had this feeling? It’s almost debilitating. There I was, happily driving down to Florida, minding my own business, jotting down ideas about our upcoming projects, when suddenly, I was petrified and thought, “That’s it, we need to cancel everything. We’re going to fail.”
I finally understand the quote, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re too small.” I could have easily called Sarah right then and told her we need to put two of our projects on hold so we can focus on the third so we don’t screw it up. Not to predict the future, but I’ll tell you how that would’ve worked out…
In a few weeks, all my excitement and ideas about those two projects on hold would be all fizzled out and we likely would never come back to them.
If this happens to you, I don’t know how to tell you to get past it. In my case, a couple of tasty cocktails and the beach helped. But I also took a great deal of time to put my thoughts and ideas on paper to work through my fears. I read articles, watched YouTube videos, and listened to podcasts related to the skills I will need for these three projects. Learning more boosted my confidence. I’m continuing to make that a priority.
(Side note: do you ever notice that when you’re learning something new, like a language or topic, your whole brain feels more awake?)
What is the point of all this, other than to admit my character flaws and shortcomings to over 13,000 adoring fans?
1.      Sarah and I have at least 3 super awesome projects that terrify me, but are sure to be spectacular; so stay tuned for that.
2.      For at least the past two years, I thought what Sarah and I were doing was innovative, challenging, pushing the envelope, ground-breaking… I now know that we haven’t even scratched the surface. Push yourself to think bigger. Take on projects and challenges you never thought possible – especially ones you’re sure you’ll fail at. Because guess what? We all fail eventually. But just think of what you can accomplish if you just say “yes” and keep going.
3.      When you feel that fear, that “imposter syndrome” telling you you’re crazy for thinking you can pull this off, shut that b*tch down and push through. If nothing else, you’ll learn something about yourself. Let that fear fuel you and make you better. (Side note to my fellow millennials – does anyone remember graffiti art with “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”?)
4.      Find yourself a partner that believes in you. There will be times you don’t believe in yourself and you will need to lean on someone else when that happens. Then, when they are having that feeling – because it will happen to us all – you can be there for them to return the favor.