The imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that numerous accomplished individuals experience.
“Including me,” I think to myself. Then debate sharing that because am I really considered accomplished?
It points to a fear that they do not have the skills, knowledge, or expertise that they claim to have.
This fear can become all-consuming.
Exceedingly smart, hardworking, driven, and capable adults, worry that they are imposters, frauds, and about to be found out.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and author of the women’s business empowerment book, Lean In, publicly shares her personal battles with the imposter syndrome. Mike Cannon Brookes, the highly successful entrepreneur and co-founder of the software company, Atlassian, has a Tedx Talk on the subject.
This fear is very common. Research backs up this observation. It appears that 70% of Americans can attest to experiencing the imposter syndrome. Since it can be hard to admit, it is likely that that number may be much higher.
Yes, it common. We could quickly dismiss the phenomena and conclude that self-doubt is part of the human condition and close the case.
Or, we could explore it more fully.
We could become very curious about how and when it shows up in our own life.
Because what if most of the time, within most people, the imposter becomes so loud that it prevents them from moving forward with the development of inventions, cures, books, business ideas, professional athletic careers, movies, and other worthwhile endeavors that move the human species forward, save lives, serve the underserved, provide jobs, or contribute to research and knowledge.
We could speculate, that the individuals who become the most successful and fulfilled in life – whether this is in their career, relationships, or family – are the individuals who have learned how to face their imposter, greet it, and face it eye to eye.
We could also wonder if the individuals who create the most impact, inspire the most meaning, or serve others in a transformational way on small and grand scales, have learned how to work with this voice and keep moving forward despite it.
I have confrontations with my imposter quite often.
She likes to tell me, “Klyn, you’re not ready.”
She tells me, “You don’t matter, despite occasional bursts of self-confidence.”
I am learning how to soothe her while I continue to tell my story.
Although, soothed, she can never be tamed.
But one day, it hit me. If I don’t treat it as my obligation in life to control the negative imposter that holds me back, I won’t be able to inspire women everywhere to follow their dreams.
Or influence fathers to spend more time with their kids at little league.
Or nudge someone, on the verge of divorce, to stop the process, leave the office early, and treat his wife to date night.
I encourage you all to do the same.
Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. Because in a world of negativity, we need our light to shine. Because I want to see your greatness, whatever it may be, and see you make an impact.