When I Look in the Mirror I See An Impostor, Waiting to be Discovered

4 min. read

Confidence makes our lives fulfilling and joyful. But for many, confidence only exists when people feel in control and live with certainty.

If that’s you, I’d say you’re off balance a good 76% of the time –  which feels more like winging it … thinking you’ll get to a point where you’re over your head and the world will discover you for what you really are: a fraud.

Feel the torment of self-criticism and judgment.

It’s nothing new if you’ve grown up in a culture where you are told, taught, and rewarded for your achievements.

Smarter. Higher, faster, and better. Climb the ladder. Control your destiny.

But –

If you don’t achieve success, you’re not good enough. It’s absolute. You can’t be just a little not good enough. It’s all or nothing.

You, my friend, are on the impostor highway. A fool waiting to be discovered. While most impostors are idiots, bullshitters, and arrogant a-holes, you are just plain unworthy: the no-frills, basic screw-up-in-training.

Polish up those “if only” excuses.
Beat yourself up.
Second-guess yourself.

Oh, and if you’re preparing to do something really important, be sure to listen to that little voice in your head that says, “you’re a screw up, now go out there and prove it.”

A lack of confidence, no matter how small, has the potential to grow into something really big. When you’re your biggest critic, you get to wear a ball and chain of self-doubt around your neck.

You know how messed up that is, right?

Confidence is a mindset based on understanding what you can control at any given time and place. That means failure is an option. Because situations and people vary, confidence is not a given as much as it is an approach. 

3 Requirements for Building Confidence

Like leadership, some people are born with confidence. But most learn through personal insight, practice and application, and a supporting cast of characters.

  • Do you suffer from impostor syndrome? If so, GIVE IT UP.
    We’re all impostors in one way or another. It’s relative. You’re not expected to know everything. You’re not expected to do everything. Give yourself a break.
  • Get a grip on what knowledge or experiences you need as a baseline. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust for guidance.  
  • Get smart by seeking out knowledgeable people, hopefully pleasant, too. Don’t kill yourself by researching on the internet. You’re missing a great opportunity to connect with people. They’ll be flattered you asked.
  • If you’re a journal-type person, write “confidence” at the top of the page each day and write for 5-10 minutes.     
  • If you’re a talker, find one person to share your insights and questions with and get their reactions. Hear your own words. Listen to their perspective.
  • Build confidence by staying in the moment. Yes, I’m talking about mindfulness. Don’t let your thoughts and emotions overtake you. Breathe, relax. Consider 10-15 minutes of meditation a day. I mean it.
  • Ask probing and open-ended questions, particularly when there’s something you don’t understand. If you think they’re stupid questions, consider this: Stupid is the new smart.  
  • Listen. Be the best listener you can be. It builds trust. Listen, listen, listen.
  • In any given situation, look at two things: 1) the facts and information in evidence – or missing, 2) people’s reactions and feelings about the situation. It’s easy to remember the first and forget the second. Confidence comes from understanding people, what’s important to them, and how they respond in certain situations.
  • You need three types of relationships to succeed in your career: 1) those you work with routinely; 2) thought leaders and influencers in the organization; 3) those who can help you connect with others and your career. 
  • Start with 1-2 people in each of those groups to build relationships with.
  • Give to others – help, interest, emotional support, information, feedback – those types of things.
  • When you give, others will give to you. This is what makes the world go round.

• • •

Building confidence requires changing your universe. 

For starters, you are not the center of the world. 

No one really cares about what you’ve achieved – how much, how big, how high, or how wide. No one. 

What people care about is the connection. How you help. How you give.

 So connect. 

Help others succeed.

 Put them at the center of the universe. 

See what happens to your confidence.