What is one of fear’s greatest hits? — Imposter Syndrome. I have coached dozens of people through imposter syndrome and I have a couple of antidotes that I think are going to help you. Stay tuned next on Moxie Talk.
Hey everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder, and welcome to the Moxie Talk blog, where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence.
Today we are talking about imposter syndrome. I call this one of fear’s greatest hits.
What are some of fear’s other greatest hits?
- Fear of failure
These are all things that present themselves when we are afraid.
Now what I find really interesting about imposter syndrome is that every single fear we have actually leads back to a fear of death. When I discovered this I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Oh wait! no way!” and then actually, if you think about it, every single fear you can trace it back to death and maybe in the caveman or cavewomen’s days.
Actually, it was Charles Darwin who presented the theory that makes the most sense about imposter syndrome and how it relates to a fear of death. His theory about this was that anything that would possibly cause us to be ostracized from our clan when we were in our cavemen and cavewomen days would be a threat.
Because we needed to be part of a clan in order to survive, if we were put on the outside as babies, we would die. We needed that clan to take care of us. If you think about imposter syndrome, it is really a deep-seated ancient fear of being rejected, of not fitting in with your clan.
Imposter syndrome is the fear of rejection.
I think the modern-day interpretation of this is really a shame. It feels shameful, you feel unworthy of being part of that clan.
Up to 70% of people experience imposter syndrome.
I have coached everyone from senior vice presidents and major Fortune 500 companies to executives that you would think are powerhouses. You would never believe that these people suffer from imposter syndrome. It is so prevalent in our society today, both men and women.
In the time that I’ve been coaching dozens and dozens of people through imposter syndrome because it is such a barrier – to success, to developing, and to reaching our true potential. Both in the ways we present ourselves and just as human beings.
In my time coaching dozens of people through this I’ve discovered two antidotes that I think are really helpful to push towards that fear, to walk towards that fear, and realize that this imposter syndrome is really just fear presenting itself in yet another way.
Antidote 1: Acknowledge Your Value
The first antidote in my experience is to realize that you are in a service position. You are actually not there to be accepted or liked. You are there to serve your audience.
I had an acting teacher when I took a workshop once from this muckety muck acting teacher in New York City and she said — the minute you start caring about what the audience thinks about you – You’re (expletive!)
I compared this to the same for business, the same for our development as professionals, as human beings – the minute you start caring about what they think of you and if they like you – you’re “bleeped.” It’s true!
How do you make sure that you’re really tuning into doing service? It’s really important to take a step back and to think about:
- How you are helping this audience?
- How you are serving them?
It’s an important step that most of us miss. We spend so much time worrying about – Are they going to like it? Am I going to be seen and recognized and validated? instead of – Am I going to serve them?
As soon as you put yourself in a service position and realize you’re really a vessel to your message, as soon as you start doing this that voice inside your head that says I’m not worthy, I’m not one of them, starts to get quieter. I call this voice K-Crap Radio.
Fear loves to DJ on K-Crap Radio station all day long. It gets louder and louder and louder as we’re getting closer to that high stakes event that means so much to us.
Once you identify how you are going to help this audience, how you are going to serve this audience, then you can turn down the volume on K-Crap Radio and turn off the volume on that script to yourself that says — This is important and I’m doing work that matters.
I recently heard a podcast where Will Smith was talking about superheroes. He said the coolest thing that I think applies to this situation so much which is —
No superhero ever got their superpower from a good event in their life.
Superpowers come from bad events in our life that we have learned to harness for good. Spider-man got bit by a spider! All of these things in our life that of course, we wouldn’t wish it on anybody, we don’t want negative things to happen but life happens.
Most of us, if you think about how you’re helping your audience the why of you? The why you are presenting? That is Your Superpower.
I recently worked with a client who felt unworthy because he didn’t have a Ph.D. or a master’s degree like everybody around him. But you know what he did have? He had the ability to bottom line, baseline anything, make the message relevant, bring it real world and I’ve sat in a room with this guy and everybody turns around to listen to him as soon as he starts to speak.
Yet his inner scripting, his K-Crap Radio was saying you’re not worthy because you don’t have 12 Ph.D.’s. I said to him, “Who wants to listen to somebody that’s just spouting off formulas and data?
What you have, what you bring to the room is an ability to make it real-world for everybody in there and that is your superpower and that is how you are there to help.”
Identify your why
Step number one: Identify your why, identify how you are there to serve that audience.
Antidote 2: Be Yourself
Step number two is to be yourself. Shakespeare said:
To thine own self be true
and I’ve always loved this. As a kid, we also learned the saying that you might as well be yourself because everyone else is taken. Love this too. My new favorite quote on authenticity is by Brene Brown who said,
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we really are.
This idea of thinking we’re supposed to be somebody else is where imposter syndrome comes with.
This means it’s not something you just say to yourself once and you’re like I got it, now I feel worthy. It doesn’t work that way. It is a daily practice of turning down that nay-saying voice and turning up the voice that says be who you are
Be who you are
There is a freedom and a peace that comes to you when you finally allow yourself to be who you are and stop trying to be somebody else. Stop trying to please somebody else.
Now at Moxie when I’m working with clients, I call this your authentic speaker persona but it goes much deeper than that. If this is not necessarily about, Oh well! I’m a funny person so I’m going to tell more jokes or I’m a serious person so I’m going to say something impactful.
This is about walking into a room and knowing not only are you worthy but you belong in a seat at that table. This is about knowing that you are not outside the clan, that what you bring to that organization or that team or that audience is worthy of being heard. Your superpower is not only what makes you unique and different but it’s how you serve that audience.
The Importance of Daily Practice
We’ve all seen so many people that walk into a room and everybody turns and listens, they just have this kind of presence. Most of us yearn for that. I’m here to tell you that that is the result of daily practice.
Most people are not born with this kind of confidence. As life goes on, we unfortunately have teachers and parents and relatives and that say things to us that stick and they’re usually things that make us lose our belief in ourselves. Eventually, if we say these things to ourselves so many times we start to believe it.
However, these people that can walk into a room with this presence have found a way to tell themselves that those voices are the inaccurate voice and that the voice that says you have a gift to share is the accurate one and the one they’re going to listen to.
Look, our time on this planet is limited. I mean we all know this and it’s a really good reminder that
- Why spend all your time trying to fit in or blend in?
- Why spend all your time trying to be like them?
Instead, why not be the best version of yourself – with all your flaws, your quirks, your superpowers, your strength, everything. Why not spend your time finding that authenticity so that you can walk into a room and know you belong?
I’m here to say to you, to everyone—Stay weird, Moxie Tribe. People want the gift that you have. I’m here to tell you it is all possible. Turn down K-Crap Radio, turn up the volume on that voice that believes in you, that knows that you have something to offer and I cannot wait to see where you go.
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