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

August Update

Hey friends and family! It’s been a long, long time since my last blog post. I’m sure you’re well aware of how crazy the world has been in 2021. That craziness hit Halley and me from all angles. Work has been wild with staffing deficiencies at both of our workplaces. We’ve been preparing our home for our first child coming this November, and our basement is an active construction site. While the craziness may be legitimate reasons to have abandoned my blog, it’s certainly bothered me to have started something and left it sit for so long. I’ve received a lot of questions so I’m going to answer some of those below.

  1. When is the release date for Super Penguin? Right now it’s a little bit uncertain. Luckily my publisher is very flexible and understanding. The original date was late September/early October, I’m hopeful for a release before the end of the year, or early 2022.
  2. Why the delay? Schedules have been crazy. As I’ve teased before, I have a super awesome illustrator that I’m working with to help bring Super Penguin to life. The opportunity to collaborate with him is going to be worth the wait.
  3. When Super Penguin comes out, where can I get a copy? The best place to order it will be right here at ! There are some other options including select bookstores and the publisher’s website. I’m also planning on doing some book signings at as many book stores, comic book shops, and anywhere else that will have me.

Beginning August 8th, I’m recommitting to a blog post every Sunday. I hope you’ll keep reading and, as always, thank you so much for all your love and support!


What Is “Super Penguin” ?

First and foremost, THANK YOU!

I am blown away by how much support, Facebook followers and subscribers to the blog I’ve already received! Nearly 150 fans already and the book is still seven months away from it’s target release date. As I reflected on that, I realized how few people know what the book is about…so today I wanted to give you some details about Super Penguin, his friends, and the world he lives in.

The story itself, is a typical super hero origin story. An average Joe gets flung into a problem bigger than him, against a villain that is bigger and stronger than him, and he tries to overcome the odds while becoming a hero along the way. What I think makes my story special though, is its characters. This world is void of any humans. Instead animals have evolved and taken over “human stuff”. These animals have jobs, drive cars, play sports, basically they do everything we do…we just don’t exist.

The protagonist is Paul Frost who, during the story, becomes the hero, Super Penguin. Paul is a sportswriter for the Eagle City Inquirer where he also works with his best friend, Annie Freese, a polar bear. Paul begins investigating a point-shaving scandal and as he begins to dig, he soon realizes it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and a city-wide takeover is being planned by the villainous General Talon, a Komodo dragon.

As many of you already know, I’m a HUGE fan of pop-culture, especially the comic book/super hero genre. You can expect to find several references to such things throughout the story. I spent a lot of time, and had a lot of fun coming up with character names. EVERY name in the story is a reference to something in pop culture, the animal, its habitat or a combination of those things.

The number one question I’ve gotten so far is, “Who is the target audience?” Every time I hear that question, I panic a little bit. I ask myself “Was I supposed to write for a particular audience?” because I didn’t. I wrote a story that I had fun writing. In hindsight, I really think this story is for anyone who enjoys action/adventure stories or comic book culture. My hope is that if an adult reads Super Penguin to a child, then they both enjoy it.

I hope this blog posts brings some clarity to what you blindly followed. Again, THANK YOU! Your support means the world to me and is energizing me through this process.

If you want to know more, feel free to email me or comment below!

My Valentine

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a post about my valentine, Halley, and the integral part she played in this story getting done.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Halley found out about Super Penguin one night, and she encouraged me to write about him. This isn’t the exact picture but it would have looked something like this..

I know, I know…it’s awful. I think when I showed it to her, it was meant to be a joke and an example of my lack of artistic ability. I never got the laugh I was expecting, and instead she told me how much she liked the idea. She asked to hear more, and wanted to know about his world and the other characters in that world. I spent the next few months trying to come up with answers. I’d daydream for hours, playing make believe in my head. Fast forward through months of daydreaming, note-taking and writing the first few drafts. Halley surprised me with a gift. It blew me away. She had kept the drawing, and constructed this…

I still struggle with words to describe how it makes me feel. Halley believed in Super Penguin and me, when I didn’t believe in either of those things. Her love and encouragement were monumental in this process. I’m so thankful for Halley, my forever Valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Story Behind the Story

I think what really gets me excited about this whole book-making process is looking back at the journey. Super Penguin isn’t something new for me, it’s been something floating around in my head for nearly fifteen years! Here’s what happened…

I was a junior at Danville High School and I sat in study hall, bored out of my mind. I SHOULD have been working on math homework or studying for my next physics test, but instead I flipped to a blank page of my college-ruled notebook and started doodling. Doodling turned into drawing poorly-drawn animals and stick figures, and those turned into a comic strip.

I showed my friends, and they enjoyed it. In turn, I enjoyed their enjoyment so a cycle began, and, for the rest of my high school career, I became the guy that drew silly pictures to get a laugh from his friends. Super Penguin and Clip-Clop the Unicorn were usually the heroes of these stories but occasionally other characters would join the mix too.

After I graduated high school, the comic strip went away, but kind of like a song that you can’t get out of your head, Super Penguin would pop up from time to time and never really left me.

In 2015, I started dating my now wife, Halley.  One night, Super Penguin found his way into a conversation.  I drew her the same poorly-drawn picture I once drew for my classmates. Halley loved it and encouraged me to turn it into a book.   Being an author was something I’d always wanted to accomplish, but not something I actively went after.  I worked on it some,  but I never took it all that seriously.   I’d use my job as an excuse. I also struggled with low self-esteem, so I assumed nobody would be interested and any attempt at publishing would fail.

Months went by with little to no progress, but then something really cool happened…

I was running one of the McDonald’s restaurants in Danville. My supervisor requested I go with him to a meeting in Decatur, IL, roughly a two hour drive.  I didn’t want to go, but I reluctantly agreed because my boss asked me to do it. I enjoyed my job, but I was never passionate about it, so doing anything extra was a bit of a chore. Oh, and this car ride would take place in January with temperatures in the teens, so I was extra salty.

About an hour into the trip, my boss was in the middle of a rant about “the future of Bitcoin” and, while half-listening, I said a quick prayer, “God, is this really what I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing?” No sooner did the inner-prayer leave my brain, a big truck passed us on our left.   On the side were pictures of Clifford the Big Red Dog and other Scholastic Book characters.  The timing was spooky, an instant message, a gigantic sign from God on wheels. It felt too big and in my face to NOT be a message that I need to be writing. I needed to show the world MY Clifford the Big Red Dog, only he’s a little, black and white penguin with a cape. This car ride changed my life.

After that, I worked on my story when I could.  I started and stopped, started over a couple of times and erased what I had.  I listened to several audio books to pump up my self esteem and sought out ways to encourage myself to keep moving.  I kept chipping away at it over the next few years.

Fast forward to March 2020. I had a vacation planned to Florida but then the COVID pandemic happened.  The world was different and dangerous. I almost cancelled the trip. I prayed about it a lot, and had lots of friends telling me I needed to be safe, but I felt an uncontrollable urge (another message from the big guy upstairs) telling me to go.  I was about 75% done with the book. If I had one week of nothing to do but write, I could finish!  So that’s what I did.

In closing, if you have an idea, work on it. Work really, really hard on it. Whether it takes you a couple of hours, fifteen years, or even longer to complete, make it happen. There’s an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment on the other side. Whether Super Penguin sells 5 copies, 500, of 5 million, I’m super proud of my book and feel so much joy from getting it done. I hope everyone gets to experience that same feeling because it is magical!