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From Self-Doubt to Superpowers

Lately, I’ve been catching up with friends and colleagues in the entrepreneur space to see how last year went, and many of our conversations were eye opening. Most had a difficult year with 2023 leaving a lot to be desired. What surprised me was that most seemed to discount their successes of 2022, and instead, chose to consider the good year a fluke rather than the result of hard work, competence, and determination. They seemed to be struggling with “Imposter Syndrome”.

Imposter syndrome can manifest in several ways, but it is essentially a fear of being exposed as a “fraud,” although there is clear evidence to the contrary.  If you experience it, you may feel like you are “playing the part” of a successful person, but you will constantly worry that your inadequacies will be exposed.  It’s a common phenomenon among people who are high achievers, good at what they do and underscore their deep commitment to their work and desire to excel. Their meticulous approach, fueled by a fear of failure, often leads to thoroughness and accuracy in tasks.

If you experience it, it’s a tool that can be used for incredible personal growth if you manage it correctly.  Characterized by self-doubt and feelings of intellectual fraudulence, Imposter Syndrome pushes individuals towards continuous self-improvement and excellence.  It teaches humility and empathy, qualities that are invaluable in leadership and teamwork.  Leaders who have navigated these feelings tend to be more understanding and supportive, fostering an inclusive and nurturing work environment. Often, those that experience it see the same in others and can help them.  One thing that has stuck with me for several years is a question a friend once asked me, “why are you afraid of your success?”  Why, indeed!

Imposter syndrome doesn’t hold you back; it propels you forward to meet the vision of you that the world has. It’s a sign that you’re pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, venturing into new territories of growth and learning. It’s a reminder that you’re striving for more, not settling for the status quo. In a team setting, those experiencing imposter syndrome can bring a unique perspective, often undervaluing their contributions but contributing to a diverse and dynamic team. Their humility and dedication can inspire others, driving innovation and collaboration.

This blog, and even the entire concept of the Friday Food for Thought is the perfect example.  Really, who am I to provide any type of wisdom?  I’m not that smart, and I’m not a particularly good writer, so why would I think anyone wants to hear from me…. much less every Friday for 8 years?  I question myself on these points often, usually on Monday’s as I start to consider material for the next blog!  Yet, I write it and I hear regularly from many of you that you look forward to the weekly installments, and some have even hit home! I, myself, also benefit from writing it;  it causes me to stretch, expand my horizons and generally makes me a better person.  So, thank you!!!

Embracing the positive aspects of imposter syndrome, can be transformative if you let it.  If you recognize it for what it is, allow yourself to use it as a driver to success it can be powerful.  But, like everything else, it requires balance. Take time to reflect on your accomplishments and allow yourself to acknowledge that it was your hard work and skills that brought you success. Try to see yourself as others see you, if even for a short time before you start to drive towards the next goal.

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.” – Denis Waitley

Have a great weekend.