Early in my speaking and consulting career, I doubted my abilities. I was concerned I wouldn’t give a good talk. I was worried I would let my clients down. Now, I’m concerned about my ability to write fiction that people will want to read.
When you doubt yourself—even when you have the skills—you suffer from “Imposter Syndrome.”
Imposter Syndrome can prevent you from living your life the way you want. Here are more examples of Imposter Syndrome:
- You downplay your accomplishments when you look for a job
- You are concerned that you don’t have the right to apply for a job, even though you have experience in that area
- You have the knowledge and interest, and you don’t actually write that article or book or give that talk, even though you know you have great information
- You don’t experiment with possibilities (such as leading a project, leading a team, doing anything out of your current comfort zone) because you are concerned you don’t have the ability to do so
Imposter Syndrome can paralyze you.
For me, the worst thing that could happen in my life is that I don’t try something. Cutting off my possibilities before I know anything about what might happen? That doesn’t work for me.
I regularly speak and write. Early in my speaking career, I made a mess of a couple of talks, one of which was a keynote. I forgot my stories and ended 20 minutes early. I decided to turn my keynote into a “town hall” type of talk, and people loved it. If I had been paralyzed by my failure, I would have slunk off the stage.
I once wrote an article for Software Development magazine with misinformation. I corrected it, but not in time for print. That didn’t mean I wasn’t a good writer. It meant I made a mistake. I learned. I didn’t stop writing.
You can, too. You might think, “I haven’t written an article/book until now.” You might think, “I haven’t given a talk until now.”
Recognize when you are capable and you don’t feel capable. If you aren’t capable, learn how. But if you are, learn when it’s your feelings and not your skills.
Dear adaptable problem solvers, the question this week is: Do you ever doubt yourself?
- What Are Your Assumptions?
- How Often Do You Look for Feedback?