Conquering the imposter monster with tough love

Does the Imposter Monster try and control you and nip at your confidence and goals?  Conquering the Imposter Monster with tough love is key to success.  As business owners or career executives you simply :

“have to do what we have to do, to get what we want to get”

Now I’m not referring here in any way shape or form to anything immoral, illegal or irresponsible. Far from it, nor am I  advocating sabotaging competitors or ripping off clients, colleagues or suppliers to make an easy buck or win.

But the “get” I refer is our goals and visions for success.  They could be SSGs (small steady goals) and/or BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals).  And at whatever level you designate, those goals and visions will have been formed by your mindset, ego, skills, confidence and intentions.

Each day we make numerous decisions of actions or inaction’s. And behind every decision lurks a reason.  No bones about it, we are the upshot of our real why’s whether we admit it or not, be they logical or illogical.

But there is a bigger issue at play here. It’s not just what we do or don’t do that matters, but why we do (action) or don’t (inaction) that is central. And therein lies the Imposter Monster (IM) in all its misery and mirage sucking the life blood from us.

The standard definition of IM is of feeling a fraud, not being good enough or just being lucky without any real talent. There  are a plethora of articles dissecting the IM and how to stomp on its spikey horns.   Yet most pussy foot  around the issues and frankly it’s time for a bit of tough love.  Flapping around in a pond of fear that immobilises action isn’t going to put money in the bank or a spring in your step.

I don’t wish to minimise or dismiss any deeper psychologies or emotional issues that may create and oxygenate the pesky beast.  But honestly, if you are trying to make a quid then time is of the essence.   You need to mobilise ASAP the actions and mindsets that will help achieve your SSGs or BHAGs.

So let’s get that tough love cracking to flip the monster out the window.   So grab a comfy seat and a beverage of choice (coffee, tea, wine. whisky, water) and pop on your big girls or boys pants … here we go.

Reality Truth Bombs

No matter how extroverted, introverted, famous, unknown, poor or wealthy we are, everyone goes through times where they bunker down and hide under a thick blanket of self-doubt and fear.

The only difference is whether it is admitted or not.  So accept you are not special in this regard as its part of the human condition.     You are not the first nor the last to feel the bite of the horned IM.  But here’s the thing, it’s how long you wallow under that blanket that matters.  Time waits for no one.

The other side of this truth bomb is that rhetoric and appearances do not always meet reality.  Like a glistening shard of an iceberg, we only see what the ocean presents.   Under the surface is a whole lot of stuff we don’t know about.

Many who appear to be super successful and smashing it are simply pretending.  The old fake it till you make it ethos often.  And whilst if you look like a duck you may well be a duck, there is a point where mindful reality in part can be more productive than fiction.

“appearances are not always the truth”

Often people feel inadequate because they believe others are much more successful.  It’s a weird mindset of communicating how busy you are, how many new clients you have etc then… bingo when asked if someone is taking on new clients. Whoa oh yes they are.  So you see it’s often a charade.  Don’t automatically believe what you see necessarily. Questions and curiosity will quell and clarify.

Share & Fess Up to Diffuse

 The monster thrives on the delusion of silence and its cousin of  shame.  Whether you are under a blanket of doubt or have tossed it to the kerb, fess up. Sharing that you are, or have been feeling unworthy or a fraud breaks the energy cycle.

“silence destroys but sharing strengthens”

Give yourself and others permission to recognise you are all part of a moving life train of feelings.  Then once you know you share the same boat, jump out of it together.

Is it really true? The jam jar

When we are inside our own jam jar we cannot see our label.    Our jar essentially contains the ingredients of who we are, what we do and our value.  The jam jar  label is what others observe and see of us.  But the problem is that if you have a distorted view of yourself (ie think of how  anorexia sufferers believe they are grossly overweight)  then you believe others feel the same. But you are inside the bloody jar and cannot it clearly.

Ask other people and yourself ‘is it really true’ if you are a twit,  a failure, a fool, a fraud?  Dig and dig again many times.  Take a scientific evidence based approach and accept you are not seeing clearly.

“reality statements are not value judgements”

So get some perspective to quell the self judgements. Is it really true or a mind game you are playing on yourself?

 Just own your brilliance

 We all have skills and value that is pure brilliant wizardry.  You will know deep down what you are great at and the problems you solve.  And if you don’t know, then you should look at doing something different to earn a dollar.

But the problem for many is a fear of touting albeit communicating that brilliance.  Communicating with honesty and owning your value is not showing off, bragging or being a loud mouth.  Of course it’s in how it is done that will feel authentic to you.

 “you did it, you rocked it, you own it”’

Horses for courses here as how one person communicates may not be authentic for another.  But communicate you must.  You are doing prospects a disservice if you don’t as visibility inspires contact. People need to know you exist, don’t be a spoilsport

Comparison Rabbit Hole

 Understanding your unique points of differentiation is critical. But that does not mean obsessively pouring over what others are doing – especially on social media.  Having a strong bi-annual or annual SWOT analysis of market needs is smart business.

But it’s a rabbit hole of doom if you keep comparing yourself to others.  Truth is there will always be someone richer or poorer, taller or shorter, more or less experienced, quicker or slower etc than you are.  Everyone has unique ideas (ok except people who plagiarise them if they swim in a mindset of scarcity).  You just are not ever comparing apples with apples as there are so many other elements.

How silly is it to compare yourself to others.  Are you really comparing the same fruit?  No of course you are not.  And there is a very logical reason why, because:

 “no one does exactly what you do in the exact same way you do it”

That mantra is front and centre of personal branding 101 and is a critical mindset.  Hey there is nothing wrong with checking out what your competition is doing periodically, but obsessing and comparing will send you crazy.  Just stop visiting that bloody rabbit hole.

 Perfectionism Poppycock

Now women are particularly susceptible to this, but men are not immune either.  But there is no doubt that in many sectors gender ceilings and unique pressures ferment the poppycock of chasing perfectionism.   Truth is that 100% perfectionism 100% of the time is stuff of fairy tales.  And more so Harry Potter levels for people who are never satisfied unless they are better than 100% in their own view.

Procrastination sits bang centre in perfectionism waiting for the day when we are thinner, happier, richer, more confident, blah blah. We must strive to improve, learn and do better but to chase a fairy tale is madness. Obsessing manifesting in procrastination to act and start thwarts productivity, reduces perspective and sends us round the total twist.

“perfectionism is a fairy tale without a happy ending”

Hey, dare I even admit that in typing this article I am acutely aware of how perfectionism can snipe in.   Wanting every word to be right and sentence to flow. I’m damn well trying to do my best, but dang there will always be something I can change the more I work on it.  So dear reader you will be reading the best I can do for now as I hit the send button on my keyboard.

I think I read once that Ita Buttrose said women need to accept that good enough is good enough and just get it out there.

Sabotaging help

 This may quote a tough point to swallow here, so grab a big gulp your chosen beverage. Truth is that many people say no to the business help and marketing services they desperately need for the wrong reasons.  The old clichéd chestnuts of ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I don’t have the financial resources’ or ‘I’ve got enough work can be excuses of fear. Check your real reasons.  Excuses erode your brand and values.

“stop making bullshit excuses that keep you small”

Truth is that deep down many are terrified what that help and solutions will mean.  Once a barrier is overcome and solutions are imminent then there is nothing left to hide behind.  You now have the foundation of achieving those SSGs or BHAG.  But do you believe you deserve success?

 Just do it – jumping into courage

Life is bloody short, circumstances can change on a dime and courage is a muscle that is built over time.  Courage and fear share the same see-saw but will only gain balance in the business playground with action.  Each time we feel the fear and just jump (nose held, eyes closed) we strengthen the action muscle.  And actions are what is needed to reach those SSGs or BHAGs.

 “just do it as if it’s the most important action of your life today”

It’s easier said than done of course, but whenever fear grabs hold think of jumping into action as being lifesaving – even just for 5 minutes as you put your foot on the see-saw peddle.

So there you have it. Eight pieces of tough love to help stomp out the Imposter Monster.  It wasn’t that tough was it? After all you do deserve success, don’t you?

A version of this article  was published in Flying Solo in 2019

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