Most people experience personal doubt and insecurity at some point in their professional career. What most people interpret as a negative force I actually see as having potential for so many positive outcomes. I often get asked if I get nervous before going on stage and the question is almost always framed in a negative light. I however have grown to interpret these pre-presentation jitters as having the ability to help me level up my performance. Why?
Because if I am nervous it means that I care; And as long as I care I have the motivation to stay the course in that job.
The day I’m most worried about is the day that I’m NOT nervous because that’s the day I don’t care how I perform onstage and I don’t want to do something I don’t care about.
Imposter syndrome, in the same way, is always cast in a negative light but what imposter syndrome tells me is that you feel as if you are wearing boots that are too big but you’re willing to grow into them. I LOVE that perspective and you can be proud of that feeling as well. That is a great place to be. What is NOT admirable are people who arrogantly believe they’ve GOT IT. That they know everything. They have the opposite of imposter syndrome and to me that energy isn’t attractive.
I love people who because of their imposter syndrome ask questions. Who are fueled by their uncertainty leading them to try new things, fail, and then grow a bit when they try again with the new knowledge they’ve attained. I also love how the feeling of Imposter Syndrome can help someone stay humble; stay grateful. All of these responses to what so many people carry as baggage can become the positive character traits we admire in so many of our heroes.
I do however also want to add a cautionary note because our responses to imposter syndrome can swing towards the negative side of the pendulum. Nervousness can hold you back from speaking well or distract you while you are on stage. Feeling as if you are out of your element can make you isolate yourself more, ask less questions, and lead you to lose your humility and gratefulness. Maybe you never feel good enough, or you never feel that anything you do is sufficient, or feel as if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I won’t deny these possible responses but my advice is to latch on to the potential of the positive fruits of gratitude, thankfulness, open mindedness, and curiosity.
The solution boils down to figuring out how to be in control of these emotions so you can take advantage of the positives that can come out of being nervous.
Do I at times struggle with imposter syndrome? Absolutely, but I also look for opportunities that have me in that mindset because I want to be the most grateful, the most curious, and the most open minded person in that space. The day that I know too much or enough is the day that I am no longer happy in that place and I’ll find myself another space, or another role, or increased responsibilities where I have that imposter syndrome once again.
When people ask me to give them advice on the secret to success, I am the first person to respond letting them know that I am not qualified to give them that advice. I am learning and figuring this all out as I go but the little I do know and have learned along this journey I am happy to share. I am not nor will ever be a guru and never want to be labeled as such because I embrace the path of a lifelong learner. With every answer I give today I hope to have a different and more nuanced answer in the future.
Battling Imposter Syndrome isn’t the fight you think it is. It is rather an embrace of the unknown in a way that sparks your curiosity, increasing your appetite for discovery. If you dare to engage with imposter syndrome in this way you will slowly start to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Your biggest dreams in life can only be reached by the road paved with your toughest questions and greatest fears. THIS journey will not only make you a better person but will equip you to have the most impact on those around you.
Dan Ram ignites the stage as an in-person event and virtual event MC/ Moderator & Speaker at over 100 events a year. He has shared the stage with international luminaries including President Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, Nico Rosberg, and Grammy-winning artists and celebrities. He has also been recognized as a Top 40 under 40 leader 2020 as well as a Top 100 Yale Alumni in Technology 2021. Level up your communication skills through his course and mastermind “Speaking Success”. His passion is to inspire people with his motto ‘Start Now Start Simple’ in building a future we all want to live in.
1 thought on “How to Leverage Imposter Syndrome”
Timely blog! Love the twist on imposter syndrome here Dan… wielding it to make us better people rather than feeling as if we’re victims of our emotions.