I first heard about the ‘imposter complex’ from my thoroughly lovely friend and client @jackiedumaine. Tanya Geisler lays it out here:
For a TEDxWomen talk on Dec. 1st, I’ve decided to talk about – and take down – the Impostor Complex. You know, that beast that wants to shut you down, reminding you of allll the ways you are not ready, capable, qualified, prepared and competent.
Which is perfect, of course, because my own Impostor Complex has a TON to say about why I’m not ready, capable, qualified, prepared and competent enough to deliver this talk. So my material, at the very least, is pretty fresh.
Just recently, I was thrilled to attend Mastin’s Super Soul Sunday event in Toronto. Mastin was generously answering every last question his hungry audience had for him. I asked him how he felt when the call came about going on Oprah with Marie and Gabby. His response:
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a mistake. I didn’t think it would actually happen. I assumed it would be canceled.”
Familiar? You are not alone.
Any time we think that something has happened because of luck, or timing, or because someone made a mistake, we are in the hold of our Impostor Complex.
Is there ANY DOUBT in your mind that Mastin was supposed to be on that show? Is there ANY DOUBT in your mind that he earned it?
No? Me neither.
From the 1000+ hours I’ve been coaching clients, I can tell you with great certainty that almost every single high-achiever has at one point or another felt the weight of the Impostor syndrome, and it sounds like:
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” – Maya Angelou
“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’” – Meryl Streep
And guess what else?
The Impostor and The Authority are are both Illusions
John Lennon said, “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”
Can you see the illusions at both ends of that statement? Loser is an illusion. God Almighty is an illusion. The Impostor is an illusion. The Authority is an illusion.
You are never either. You know more than you think AND you will never know it all.
It’s the very nature of the ego: it wants to want more than it wants to get.
Can you feel the relief and the grief in that?
And while I may not be THE authority, my experience as the Impostor Complex – both mine and those of my brilliant clients – certainly makes me AN authority.
So, as you face your desires for stage, for mastery in the boardroom, for the book deal, for the TV show, for the new business or for the promotion, I want you to know this:
- You are not alone.
- Those belittling voices are not real or right.
- You’ve earned your right to be here.
- You’ve got this.
- You are ready.
When I’m on stage delivering my TEDx talk, I intend to own it. There has been no mistake made: I’ve earned my right to be there. Speaking truth imbued with experience and love, in spite of what my Impostor Complex wants me to believe. It is, after all, a mere illusion.
Your call’s coming too. Answer it with an effusive YES.
I was describing to Jackie my own desire to do a TEDTalk and the trouble I was having writing my book ‘Be Known’; mainly, that people would laugh. Understanding that this feeling is so common that it has a ‘syndrome’ attached to it helped me get beyond my fears. In my experience, if you can name it you can kill it, fix it, fight it, whatever you want to do with it. Watch out for the ‘imposter complex’ in your life!
- Psychology: Imposter Syndrome (clareminnies.wordpress.com)
- Imposter Syndrome: My life as a fraud. (momedy.blogspot.com)
- Day 5. Go Ahead, Murder Yourself. (heidiwriting.wordpress.com)