Have you ever felt like an imposter? Like you shouldn’t be where you are, doing the things you’re doing, having conversations with people you never thought possible, being asked to make decisions about things that might have blown your mind 10 years ago?

The feeling can stun us, lock us up, even paralyze us.

We’re taught that imposters are liars. They’re con artists. They’re frauds. They don’t belong where they are. But yet, we *all* have times in our life when we feel like we don’t belong.

The truth is that the feeling of being an imposter is everywhere in everyone and it lights up differently for each of us.

Often it’s tied to our confidence and self-trust. Something inside of us is questioning whether we have the resources and intelligence to take something on. To figure it out. To keep the wins coming.

How can we frame and name this feeling differently?

Most likely we’re being stretched into something new. We’re finding an “edge” that we haven’t discovered before, and it freaks us out.

Is it possible that it’s a sign of a good thing happening? That we’re learning and growing?

Is it possible that it’s not a pathology or disease, but instead it’s a moment of sensing we’re in a challenging situation, one that we may not have exactly been in before? Perhaps we’re here because someone has trust in us to lead or step up because of the gifts of our past experience, our presence, or how we help.

I’ve often felt like an imposter. The feeling was loud when I founded Kinkou and left Starbucks, when I started telling people that I was a leadership and teams coach.

“People do that?”

“How will you make a living?”

It’s been 3+ great years, and it still creeps in and gets loud from time to time. But I try to remind myself that it’s a signal that I’m uncomfortable, and that’s when good things happen.

How can we help each other as imposters?

Talk about it with people you trust. Ask them how they’ve dealt with it. Ask for feedback on how others see you. Imposters, unite.

Explore what the feeling is tied to. Give the imposter voice a name, and when they get loud, tell them they’re not invited to the party.

Here are a few related resources that I’ve enjoyed recently and have been sharing:

1 // Success isn’t a cure. Maya Angelou once said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” I love how this New Yorker article ends: “The <imposter> phenomenon names an unspoken, ongoing crisis arising from the gaps between these various versions of the self, and designates not a syndrome but an inescapable part of being alive.” Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking It. (15 min read)

2 // Dr. Emily Anhalt reminds us that we’re in good company, in this Tweet storm: “12 Tips for Working Through Your Imposter Syndrome”. I really wish we’d stop calling it a syndrome. (5 min read)

3 // We all have times where we feel like a fraud. How can we turn the negative voice in our head into an ally for us? This Hidden Brain episode talks about “imposter thinking” and The Psychology of Self-Doubt. (50 min podcast)

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