How Do You Manage Imposter Syndrome?

I chatted with a talented coach a few days ago. He’s between clients. He felt as if he was stagnating, not learning anything. He said, “This is one of those days, where I wonder if I have Imposter Syndrome (where you doubt your value). Do you ever feel that way?”

Of course, I do. Not often, but often enough. I said, “I combat that feeling by shipping something.”

He said, “Ooooh.” That’s the long “oh,” when you get a transforming idea. I often follow that “oh” with a face-palm.

I suspect Imposter Syndrome might be a result of staying in Old Status Quo or in Chaos too long. (Too long is personal to each of us and relative to our situations.)

I use the pressure of shipping something (a blog post, a client discussion, a talk) as a forcing function to take a stand. While I want to be “right” or “perfect” or whatever, I know from experience that if I ship, I will learn. The faster I ship, the faster I learn.

That’s when I learn that I’ve addressed a concern other people have.

I never know what people will connect with. I thought people would connect with many of my posts from the last few weeks (May and June 2020). Maybe. I can’t tell from the comments. (This blog doesn’t appear to have the readership my other blog has. Although, this one gets more comments! Thank you for your comments.)

I can’t know in advance what I write or say will connect with people. That’s why I use shipping/publishing as a way to put more work out there.

The more I ship, the more response I receive. The responses help me know if I’m headed in the right direction.

Let’s consider other alternatives to moving past Imposter Syndrome.

More Alternatives to Living With Imposter Syndrome

These ideas require writing. I find that when I write things down, I see them differently than when I speak them. You can journal for your self. You don’t have to publish for the world.

  • Write a story about when you succeeded with some work. Personal or professional. I say “story” because it’s about the situation and what you did, not the outcome yet.
  • Write a story when you “failed” with some work. Now, write down what you learned. The “failure” isn’t the issue. What you learned is the issue.
  • Review your past year, month by month. (I do this for my work. You might use another vector in your life.) For each month, write down something you accomplished.

When we feel as if we’re imposters, we don’t see what we have accomplished. These three questions/prompts help us see what we have done.

When I see what I’ve done, I now have the internal grit to do the next thing. I might have to choose something specific to do. Then, I can start delivering on that thing. I often choose a writing project, especially now that no one’s traveling much. I have much more time to write. (Which is a great thing.)

You don’t have to live with Imposter Syndrome. If you’re like me, choose something to learn, practice, and ship. If you’re not like me, make sure you assess your life, so you can see what you did accomplish. You can then create new choices for yourself.

That’s the question this week: How do you manage imposter syndrome?

9 thoughts on “How Do You Manage Imposter Syndrome?”

  1. Seems so obvious, but it took you pointing it out to make it so: do some small increment of the thing where you lack confidence, learn from it, repeat, repeat, repeat.

    1. Which means it wasn’t obvious to you! I did my job today :-)

      I think I need to do a post on starting with that first step and the courage that takes. For me, that’s the hard part. That first step.

  2. Julio Gonzales

    I definetly going to try shipping something. In an unaware manner I was doing that with a topic I’m going to offer on my company next month. I feel kind of scare and all the questions about it “If it would be valuable for the participants”. “What could be really valuable for them from what I have to offer”. So I think I’m inmerse in the sydrome right now. Thanks for sharing

    1. Julio, excellent. I have at least two categories for my fear: one is where I don’t think I know enough. In that case, I say any of these: “I’ve only tried this once,” or “I read this and it makes sense. Want to join me in an experiment?” I sometimes say other things, but I clarify what I know.

      In the other case, I too-often say, “Who would want to hear from me about this? other people have said this. Maybe even better.” That’s when I know Imposter Syndrome has kicked me in the teeth. That’s when shipping something helps me. I might say to myself: “I can ship this and see if anyone’s interested.” Or, “I can get this off my chest and not worry about its impact on other people.”

      I’m sure there’s a third time I get that scary feeling. (Probably a 4th and 5th time, too. Hehehe.) Doing it, not dithering, helps me a lot.

      If you read this blog, you’ll see there are plenty of posts that are good, but don’t connect with people. There are some that connect a lot. And, I’m sure there are some that are not up to my normal writing standard. However, since I ship every week, I am more likely to write a few that connect in some way with at least some people. My deliberate practice (which includes publishing) helps me overcome Imposter Syndrome.

      Have a great time with your presentation or whatever it is that you share with others this month. You don’t need luck. You made your luck by committing to shipping.

  3. “Imposter Syndrome (where you doubt your value). Do you ever feel that way?” Ooo yes. I would also consider another dimension: humility. I mean a little bit of this doubt helps, maybe, in not being arrogant , to revisit what is known.

    ” I use the pressure of shipping something (a blog post, a client discussion, a talk) as a forcing function to take a stand.” I have a personal blockage with this. Maybe because of fear that what I would expose is not ok, or properly prepared, or a platitude. Hmmm. I know I might be wrong.. Hmm. Is not easy.

    1. Marius, one of the “problems” with public speaking or writing is that some people will disagree with you. Some people will think you’re wonderful. Some people will think you’re stupid.

      First, you can’t control what other people think or how they choose to react. You can only manage your reactions. Second, the fact that they do disagree is because you shipped. You wrote/spoke in public. You took a stand. You said what you believe/experienced/whatever.

      Creating those words is the hard part. Publishing might be the next hardest part. Criticizing is easy because there’s already something there.

      Yes, it takes courage to publish your ideas. The more I practice, the better I am. That might work for you, too.

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