Ever think that’s what you’ll hear when you step out to do something new or different? At times you do hear it. You look at people’s faces and you hear the voice. Except it’s not from the external. It’s not their voice you hear; it’s the one inside your own head.
It’s psychological warfare, an internal battle that can keep even the most capable among us from stepping forward. It’s called Imposter Syndrome - it’s the belief that you will appear as a fraud even when there’s overwhelming evidence that you’re highly capable and competent.
I know this all too well. Before becoming an online entrepreneur, I spent over a decade coaching and mentoring hundreds of students. I taught on leadership principles and how to discover passion and purpose, among other things. Despite my many years of service, the moment I stepped out to do something new, a voice inside my head asked me what I thought I was doing. I felt the pressure that no one would be interested in what I had to say or share. I wondered if I would be considered a reliable source.
About six months later, I officially launched my online course From Job to Joy TM. To introduce my course, I wanted to do a live video. Still, the question lingered “will they listen?” It literally took me 6 months to finally do the video. When I did, I was crazy nervous, sweating, and feeling like an imposter. All the while, my hubs was off camera saying, “You got this, babe.” Ahh...the refreshing sound of the voice of reason.
Isn’t it funny how the moment we’re asked to step from the background and from our comfort zone to do or talk about something we’re highly skilled at, we immediately feel inadequate?
I pushed through and finished that first video. I even watched it afterward, and to my surprise, I didn’t nitpick about all the things I could’ve done better. I extended some grace to myself as I watched and rewatched. I’ve done several more since then, each time the nerves lessening.
I later realized the source of my grace when I came across this quote (Y'all know I love a good quote): “People are the prettiest when they talk about something they really love with passion in their eyes.”
I’m not sure about “prettiest” but I definitely believe we’re our happiest. Though nervous, I was happy doing it and happy that I did it. My guess is that you are the same: happiest when you’re sharing about something you’re passionate about.
If you’re dealing with lingering self-doubt, just know that you’re not alone. Many people grapple with feelings of inadequacy, especially when trying something new. But, you don’t need to remain a hostage to it. You can stop doubting yourself, and it is such a freeing feeling. Below are several steps to help you overcome feeling like a fraud.
Stop comparing yourself. One of the reasons we feel inadequate is because we spend so much time looking around at what other people are saying and doing. You are pretty competent at something. And since you’ll never truly know just how other people work or what they feel when they’re left with their own thoughts, you can’t accurately say if you’re less than. Look at your body of work and consider that only.
Step out of your comfort zone. This is definitely a line I keep on repeat. It’s a constant reminder to put one foot in front of the other. The comfort zone will try to swallow you up and keep you stuck in the mundane. The truth is, no real change will happen as long we remain comfortable.
The cure for fear of discomfort is action. When your feet try to fail you, take a step anyway. Take action even if it’s imperfect. This is the only real cure from staying stagnant. Forward progress, even if it’s inch-by-inch, is better than no progress at all.
Done is better than perfect. My younger self would have scoffed at this phrase, but I’ve since found it to not only be very true but also very freeing. I’m not advocating for sloppy work, but I am encouraging us to not be so critical that nothing gets done. No, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Is there really such a thing? I know we want it and often we wait for it. And therein lies the problem. We wait, and we wait, and we wait. All the while, time (which is of the essence) is passing us by.
So, let’s focus on just getting ‘er done! Seriously. Done is better than perfect.
Extend yourself some grace. I mentioned it before, but often we can be so good at showing grace to others. Yet, instead of treating ourselves with the same level of understanding, we become our harshest critic. As Denzel Washington so eloquently stated in the movie Great Debaters, “Would you punch yourself in a street fight? ...Then don’t do it in a word fight.”
Any time you try something new, there’s a learning curve. Allow yourself time to grow into your new space.
Believe. Do. Repeat. Repetition is good for learning. You can’t try something one time and then be upset if the results you want aren’t there. Doing something repeatedly creates a habit and the results we want.
The more we take these steps to overcome self-doubt, the more powerful we become. We’re all so gifted. Let’s do our diligence to not let imposter syndrome - the doubt and fear that lie to us and tell us we’re incompetent - steal our joy or stop us from moving forward. Not this year! Extend yourself some grace. Step out of the background and into the light. Let the real you shine through! Come! Grow with me.
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