Are you waiting for the no-talent police to get you?
In her book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” Dr Valerie Young, cites many successful people who feel like impostors. Mike Myers (you know, the famous comedian and really successful actor) famously said that he felt such a fraud he was waiting for the no-talent police to come and arrest him! If you’re like me, you know that feeling… I’ve spent most of my life ensuring the no-talent police didn’t find me!
If you’ve had a look at the blog content on this site, you’ll notice that over the years, I’ve changed direction more times than some politicians! Being able to step back, I’ve had time to reflect and understand why this has happened, and to be honest there were a number of reasons for this:
- working with computers came easy to me, so social media seemed a natural place to start. I found LinkedIn easy to work with, so I didn’t get that other people didn’t. It felt wrong to charge for something anyone could do.
- I had books I’d written but didn’t promote because I didn’t feel that they were any good. Any good reviews where from people who were just being kind.
- at heart, I wanted to help people who need it most, so would set up packages and everything, but wouldn’t do very much to promote them. If I tried and failed, I’d only make things worse…
- when I did get clients, I felt such a fraud, I would under-charge or even not invoice them because I felt I hadn’t actually done anything!
- I had a email list but didn’t make use of it, because I didn’t think I had anything of value to say
- sometimes I withdrew into myself so much, I didn’t do anything for months.
- I could come up with what I thought were great ideas but struggled with marketing and sales, because I hadn’t really thought about who’d want to buy such a package, and when no-one signed up for the programme that just reinforced my idea that I was clueless when it came to business.
Whenever, I made progress, I did something (or didn’t do anything) and ended up taking 5 steps back. I spent so much time being afraid, I kept on finding excuses not to do something. My inner impostor positively crippled me. I really made it difficult for the no-talent police to get me!
Life coaching helped
As a life coach, I had loads of tools at my disposal. The success bank is a great one, but for every success, there was pretty much always a voice inside, that would nullify that success:
Success bank: yay, I wrote and published a book. Inner voice: so what, no-one is buying it.
Success bank: yay, I ran a 5k. Inner voice: big deal, so did a lot of other people and they did it a hell of a lot faster than you. Sure you were nearly last!
And so on.
But this is where having my own life coach made a difference. When you have a Life Coach yourself, you have a person who is able to cut through that inner voice bullshit and turn it a round:
Success bank: yay, I wrote and published a book. Life Coach: that’s great. So many people talk about doing it and not only did you write it, you formatted and published it yourself.
Success bank: yay, I ran a 5k. Life Coach: that’s brilliant. I know how hard how you’ve been working to get to that level of fitness. How many other people are still sitting on the couch wishing they could?
So how do you start overcoming the impostor syndrome?
I think the first step in overcoming anything, it to first acknowledge it for what it is. Dr Young states that if you can identify with any of the statements below, then no matter how many certificates or qualifications you have or how much other people recognise your talents, you know, deep inside that you are a fake and a fraud:
- any success you have is down to luck, good timing or some sort of computer error!
- I can do it, so anyone can
- you agonise over the slightest flaws in your work
- any constructive criticism is more evidence of how much of a fraud you are
- when you do succeed, it’s because you fooled them yet again
- you’re worried that
So, are you waiting for the no-talent police to show up too?