We’re covering everybody’s favorite subject: Imposter Syndrome, and we’re going to be talking about it through the lens of action.
One important thing to remember, action cures fear (and Imposter Syndrome).
Action cures fear is one of my favorite business quotes ever, and it’s from the book The Magic of Thinking Big. One of the reasons it’s one of my favorite quotes ever is because it can be applied to so many things. It can be applied to basically anything you’re doing in your business, but I’m talking a little bit about Imposter Syndrome with it, and I want to backtrack a little bit because the timeline of this article started several months ago.
Curing Imposter Syndrome With Content
I wrote an Instagram post as part of a seven-day/one-week commitment to showing up every day. I normally do not post on social media every day, but I challenged myself, and this post was part of it, and the hook for the post went like this, “Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the curb with….content.” Then I talked a little bit about how showing up online is both easy and hard. It’s easy because, well, you know, all you have to do is show up, and it’s hard because what can you say that hasn’t been said before?
That right there is kind of the crux of content as a whole, right? We all feel like we’ve talked about everything we know, and since we don’t know anything more to talk about, it makes us feel a bit of an imposter.
So let’s take another backstep here. There are probably many layers of Imposter Syndrome. But let’s talk about just two.
When Imposter Syndrome feels like crippling fear
There is the Imposter Syndrome that feels like crippling fear, when you are first learning something new you move away from that blissfully unaware status into that status where you are aware of how much you do not know and everyone goes through this.
Some personality types might be able to handle it and move past it a lot more quickly than others. But everybody goes through this. You start learning a new skill, a new topic, a new method, whatever it is, and you feel like you know nothing. But as you learn, as you kind of move through any program that you’re taking, or any certification that you’re doing, you start learning more, yes, but because you’re not applying it, it still feels like you don’t really know it. All that book knowledge is great, we do need it, it is important to our world, right?
But until we’re applying it, we don’t really know it, because it’s all those what-if situations that really prove your worth in this. That’s why Imposter Syndrome is such a big deal, because as you are up-leveling your skill set, you need to uplevel your actual action as well. A lot of people haven’t had the chance to do that.
When Imposter Syndrome feels like a need to grow your confidence
Now let’s talk about last week’s podcast episode with Patti Haus, she briefly touched on this. She said that when she was working on her authority project, that it really built her confidence in saying, “I will not say no to any visibility opportunity that comes my way,” she had to show up with something to say. Because of that, she realized how much she really does know, not just about her skill set of copywriting, but about teaching it about becoming a leader in that skill and it gave her the confidence to move forward, and showing up is so much easier for her now.
I love how she touched on that because it leads into a post that happened just a couple weeks ago in a Facebook group I’m in. It’s for a program that offers a three-part certification to become an online digital marketer and I have completed that certification. But a woman who is moving through that certification right now was talking about how she felt like an imposter, that she is doing all that book learning and knowledge, but she doesn’t feel like she’s got the proof. She doesn’t have the testimonial, she doesn’t have the case studies. So this is what I wrote in that Facebook post to the woman who felt like an imposter. I said, “A lot of the time, as you write or talk, you’ll realize which areas are easier for you, which are more of a struggle, this may help you specialize.”
How Creating Content Builds Confidence
Now, here’s what I didn’t write: most of all, all that writing and talking will teach you something very important: you know what you’re doing. You’ll end up creating a framework for how you work.
As a side note, friends, this is how I developed my Brandscaping framework, which is the six questions you need to answer for a fully fleshed-out brand. It’s also how I developed the Be Seen method that I feature in Content Lab. I developed both of those frameworks by showing up, by posting to Instagram three times a week, by showing up on my podcast once a week for years. Nothing I have ever taught was developed overnight.
Some of it was coming from some of those a-ha moments, sure. But even those a-ha moments have to be applied; you have to take the action to hear the fear, apply them, see how they work with clients, see how they work in your own business.
Then once you know how they work, you can make little alterations to that framework, you can fudge the blueprint a little bit, you can alter the method, but you have to do that by taking action. Sometimes that first part of the action is either talking or working through it with content, because you can’t get someone to hire you without telling them what you’re going to do for them.
What Happens When You Start Showing Up
When you start talking and writing and showing up on video talking about what you do, certain things are going to happen.
One, occasionally, you’re going to stumble over your words. Sometimes I say blanket statements that aren’t quite 99.9% true, they’re only 95% true. You will stumble over your words, and when that happens it’s okay. It’s a natural and normal part of the process.
But here’s what else is gonna happen, when you show up, you’re going to realize you can tighten up your framework. You can cut out the extraneous things, you can add in some of those missing pieces that makes it easier for people to accomplish the results that you are promising. It’s one of the reasons why I re-developed the Show Up System. I cut out some things that were making it too difficult for people to apply to their business in that DIY fashion and I added in a few things that turns out really do matter to the process. And now it’s a 2.0.
You are allowed to change things; you are allowed to put something out today and in a year say, “Hey, I can make this better.” You can also sunset a product that you no longer believe in. We all move through the process by taking action and sometimes that action means that something is no longer serving us. Sometimes that action means something is serving us, but it could serve us better, easier, and more efficiently with a couple tweaks. Sometimes we develop a whole new process around something.
All of that is the natural progression of taking action, and really walking the walk, talking the talk and doing what we’re talking about. All of that comes from you putting yourself out there with your written or audio content. When we put so much pressure on ourselves to know everything right away and all the time, it is not natural. We don’t wake up learning to walk, it takes time for us to get there.
Even corporate employers, they’re finally starting to realize this. A couple weeks ago, I read a New York Times article about the increase of training for hiring employees. If I recall, it was about IBM, and how (one) they’re not requiring college education, for jobs that really don’t need college education. I mean, hello, there are plenty of people who are brilliant at what they do that didn’t go for a four-year degree. But also (two), they’re doing more on the job training, and sometimes extensively. If I recall, don’t quote me on this but, one of the training programs was a nine-month program.
They’re hiring people, putting them through this program and then having them work. They’re realizing that they can teach the skill sets, but they can’t teach the mindset. They would rather hire a great employee who just doesn’t have the skills yet and train them in those skills because it gives them a better quality employee and they would rather help their employees move through that awkward learning phase and become a great employee, rather than trying to scour the resume stacks for someone who actually has that skill set.
The Growth Mindset Moves Past Imposter Syndrome
Did you catch that? At the heart of this is always going to be mindset.
So yes, we can all learn a skill set, but without the right mindset, Imposter Syndrome is probably going to hang around to stay.
When I wrote about the Brandscape method, I paraphrased a story that Dr. Carol Dweck talks about in her book, Mindset. She retells the tortoise and the hare parable from her perspective of fixed and growth mindsets. She said that as children, we were given a choice between the talented but erratic hare and the plodding but steady tortoise. The lesson was supposed to be that slow and steady wins the race. But really, did any of us want to be the tortoise? No, we just wanted to be a less foolish hare. I love how she tells the story. It was a concept I’d never really thought about when it comes to building a business and building a brand and creating a visibility strategy.
When I read this, it was like one of those click moments in my brain. I was like, you’re right. That parable doesn’t actually teach kids that slow and steady wins the race. It teaches kids that slow and steady only wins when the talented people slip up, that talented people will always win unless they stop trying because, “after all, everyone knows you have to show up in order to win and that those with a growth mindset, realize they can always become better with grit and work.”
That right there is the key. You can always become better with grit and work, AKA action cures fear.
Action Plan to Cure Imposter Syndrome
If you are struggling with Imposter Syndrome, I highly, highly encourage you to take some time, start writing or talking about what you do. If writing is not your forte, Facebook Lives, Instagram lives. Maybe you’ve even been approved for LinkedIn lives. If writing is your forte, do the same things with posts, write blog articles.
All of those things are going to force you to organize your thoughts. You’re going to end up in some sort of framework or method around the things that you do, and that’s going to become something that you can teach. It’s going to be something that you can offer as a service, and it’s going to be something that you build huge confidence in and around, just because you’ve gone through the effort of doing it.
This is the kind of information that I wish I’d had 6, 7, 8 years ago. It would have helped me leapfrog so many things, because in the doing of it, I learned a lot. But it took me a while to get that going because I had those same thoughts. I actually sat there as well and was like, “Who wants to hear me talk about this? So many people know more than I do. What can I say that hasn’t already been said?”
If those are thoughts that you’re having right now, you are not alone. I have been there, every one of my clients has been there. We can all join together and move past this but only if we’re sharing the information. So send this post to a friend and give them that opportunity to uplevel their own business.