My Struggle with “Imposter Syndrome” Part 1

This weekend I attended the “Global Leadership Summit”. It’s a two-day event with host sites all over the world, focused on making better leaders. Speakers from different industries and professions give lectures on a number of topics like taking risks, empowering your crew and civility. One that stuck out to me was about being your authentic self.

I had heard this lesson before, from past GLS speakers, various other times too. It just struck me harder than it had in the past. I try to keep things positive. We all have problems, and most of us keep those to ourselves, or share them with our closest friends and family. On social media we all post our “highlight reels”, but we hide our ugly “behind-the-scenes footage.”

As I reflected on this week’s lessons from the GLS, I asked myself, “Am I authentic at home?” Absolutely, like it or not, Halley gets the realest version of me. Next, “Am I authentic at work?” Most of the time, I think I have a pretty good relationship above me and below me on the hierarchy chain. I share what’s work appropriate, building relationships but keep the order. “Am I authentic on my blog?” No, I don’t think I have been. So far, I’ve shared the highlight reels of the process, but not the behind the scenes stuff. I want to change that, and open up some about my biggest struggle, “imposter syndrome”.

For those of you that haven’t heard of this term, my definition of “Imposter Syndrome” would be, “feeling like you don’t belong to a group that you’re in, because you think aren’t good enough to be in it”. Imposter Syndrome can strike any part of your life. You can feel like an imposter at work, that you “faked” your way through the interview and aren’t good enough to be there. You can feel like an imposter at home, and that while you have a title of husband/wife/dad/mom that you aren’t deserving of it. Or in my case, you can write a book, and still not feel like an author.

The writing process was incredibly difficult for me. My self-doubt and fear of embarrassment stopped me from writing so many times. I didn’t want anyone to know I was writing, because, “What if I have to explain what my book is about, and they think it sounds stupid?” If something would slip, and they heard I was writing, I wouldn’t share my story with pride, and excitement. I’d water it down, with a “bleh” attitude about it, hoping my own disinterest would prevent any follow-up questions. Months later, when the book was finally finished, I wanted to ask my two best friends to proof-read my draft. Two people who aren’t just my best friends, they are the best type of best friends. The ones that love you because you are family to them, and it took me WEEKS to muster up the courage to ask them to read it.

When you get into the pit of Imposter Syndrome, it’s really hard to climb out of it. I started reading a lot of books. I read more in the last year, than I had since my Harry Potter craze. An array of books from entrepreneurs, celebrities and authors that shared similar stories of how they went from where they were, to where they dreamed of being with all the speed bumps and anecdotes along the way. I prayed a lot too. Any time I got into a situation involving writing, I’d pray. I’d pray for confidence in myself. I’d pray for courage to talk about it. And I’d pray that whoever I was talking to really liked my idea, and if they didn’t that I’d have the belief in myself to keep moving on. I still pray for all those things. I’m still not out of the pit of Imposter Syndrome, but I’m climbing. Some days, I make a lot of progress, and other days I slide backwards. It’s a challenge, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

In the title you probably noticed that I put “Part 1.” I want to do a “Part 2” where I share what books I read and what they did for me. That’s next week’s blog. I hope that sharing my story helps you, or someone you know with any of your own battles with Imposter Syndrome. I want to close Part 1 with the most impactful sentence I read that helped me along the way. It comes from the autobiography Tough S*** by Kevin Smith. While our intended audiences are very different, Mr. Smith and I have a few things in common. We are both over-weight nerds with a passion for comics and telling stories, so I read his book. I’m paraphrasing from memory so please forgive any errors, but early in his career, Mr. Smith had a similar dilemma as I did. The young man wanted to be a filmmaker, he shared this with his older sister who told him. ‘Then you are one, now figure out how to do it.” Therein lies the cure for Imposter Syndrome. If you want to be something…then you are one, now figure out how to do it.

Have a great week!-Rob

3 thoughts on “My Struggle with “Imposter Syndrome” Part 1

  1. Thank you for your words and your vulnerability, Rob. You are a rockstar. When I found out you were writing this book, I was so excited for you. I’m glad that you’re all in. I also appreciate your willingness to tackle the subject of Imposter Syndrome. I think most people struggle with this self-doubt way more often than they care to admit. I too am working to overcome this, sometimes crippling, disorder. After ten years, I decided to chase a passion and am very close to achieving it. I hope to share the results soon. Thanks for being you, dude. Keep up the hard work.


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