Imposter Syndrome (Lie): I’m Not Good Enough to Teach This!
How to Protect Yourself from the Imposter Syndrome
The Imposter Syndrome is a very common malady among course creators. But, ironically, embracing it and the fear of not being enough may be the very thing that helps you break through and get your course out to the world. Many people fear that they are not good enough to teach something. What if my customers and audience know more than I do? So what.
You learn by teaching.
It’s the very act of teaching it–and putting your content (and yourself) out there that will give you confidence and enough knowledge to “hold your own.”
Subjecting yourself to “the market” allows you to grow….
and become proficient and refined in your talents. Embrace that challenge.
“And that recommendation, with the exaggerated estimate of my ability with which he prefaced it, was, if you will believe me, Watson, the very first thing which ever made me feel that a profession might be made out of what had up to that time been the merest hobby. ” Sherlock Holmes
“Pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing.” David Letterman
If interaction yields so many wonderful results, why are we afraid to do it? Lots of fears can be bound up in not venturing out as Amy can attest.
The Imposter Syndrome Sabotaged Amy’s Success
Amy wanted the exponential beneFits of a “market relationship” and the Imposter Syndrome kept her from it. She wasn’t willing or knowledgeable about how to create that interaction. Though Amy wasn’t a course creator, she was a musician and a songwriter. Both groups suffer from the same “I’m not good enough” syndrome.
I listened to Amy strum her guitar and sing to me the songs she had written. It was obvious she was a very talented songwriter. “Have you tried to sell your songs?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “I don’t even know how to go about it.” “Well, that’s your job….sounds like you need to do some research,” I prodded. Then her supportive husband chimed in, “This weekend I’ll do some digging.” I went on, “You’re very good. You really should pursue it.” Quietly and with worried eyes, she said, “What if I’m not good enough?”
I deliberated for a moment, weighing whether I should say what I wanted to say next. I thought to myself, “Should I go for shock value or encouragement?” I plunged in for shock. Maybe it would propel her to action.
You Are Not Good Enough.
I said very gently and quietly, but firmly: “You’re not good enough.” She looked up somewhat surprised. I could tell she was accustomed to lots of positive comments. Then I went on, “But before you think I’m being too harsh, let me explain myself. What I mean by that statement is this: if you have never had a relationship with the market before, you’re not good enough. The market will make you better and hone your skills.”
I went on, “There is no doubt you have the raw talent, but until you have engaged in a relationship with the market, you have not perfected your talent or your product…in this case, your songs.” I hastily explained that my comments were really not a statement about her talent, but rather a statement about the nature and the value of a process of honing Fit which she had not yet engaged in.
The Imposter Syndrome: Succeed Even When You Are Afraid of Rejection
I prodded her further. “What happens,” I said, “if you go to all the trouble and hassle to research the opportunities, let your songs make the rounds only to find out that your songs are not popular or saleable?” “Well, then,” she laughed, “I guess I would be back singing them to myself—exactly what I’m doing now.” Exactly,” I said. So what? Take the risk. Interact with the market.
So, make the same challenge to you, your fear now is that you are not good enough. What if that fear became fact? Could you live with it? Wouldn’t it be better to know, so that you could make a choice to let go or get better, or probably more realistically, learn the necessary Knowledge to market your talent?
My experience with the market is that it hones Fit and is encouraging. People are energized, gain direction, and see exactly what needs to be tweaked. And since we are in the Knowledge Economy, knowledge and resources are available with less effort than ever before.
Defeat the Imposter Syndrome by Listening to the Market
Another very real possibility is that as you engage in a relationship with the marketplace and start listening, you get ideas. Ah, Idea Gold. And you start to experiment with those ideas, perfect them, and then you listen again. Some people will like what you do and you will feel exhilarated and encouraged.
You Get Valuable Feedback
Some people won’t like what you do and you can ask them why (that all-too-valuable feedback). Maybe they will be able to tell you. Maybe they won’t. (Some people cannot always articulate their reasons.) Maybe their reasons matter. Maybe they don’t. But you can only start gathering Idea Gold by being out there listening, and engaged in the RELATIONSHIP.
The Market Will Change You
And in the process of engaging, the market will change, hone, and exact what you do. I don’t know anyone who embarks on a relationship and that relationship never changes from where it started. Why? All relationships are dynamic, evolving entities that have a life of their own. So is Niche Fit. And talent. And so is turning your talent into a profitable niche.
The Imposter Syndrome: A Belief That Can Keep You Stuck and How to Avoid It
Following your Fit means not running away from your calling. Sometimes getting to your Zone of Fit™ involves many obstacles. Some are internal. Some are external. As Steven Pressfield says, “To follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain zone of effort, risk, and exposure.”1
He makes the distinction between an artist and an addict. 2 The artist is living a productive, creative career. An addict is in an endless loop of aspirational yearning and wannabeism. When you are not willing to put in the “grinding teeth” effort, you are running away from your calling.
The Artist & The Addict
I was particularly struck by his distinction between “the artist” and “the addict,” wherein the former is living out a productive, creative career, while the latter is caught in an endless loop of aspiration and yearning that never gets backed up with meaningful action.
The Amateur & The Pro
When we’re living as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling – meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves.
Addiction becomes a surrogate for our calling. We enact the addiction instead of the calling. Why? Because (as was mentioned earlier) to follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain zone of effort, risk, and exposure.
The Imposter Syndrome: Here is a Mental Model to Use in Your World
Sometimes it is internal beliefs and barriers that are keeping us back. Many times these are invisible; other times we are aware of them, but unclear how to overcome them. I will talk about a solution in the last strategy.
“Beliefs influence perception. Perception structures reality. Reality suggests possibilities. Possibilities generate choices. Choices initiate actions.Actions affect outcomes. Outcomes impact beliefs. Awareness facilitates change.” Author unknown
The Imposter Syndrome: Get Out of Your Own Way: Take Risks with Knowledge
Don’t fear putting your talent “out there”. You have to start somewhere. Sometimes we take our gift too personally and therefore feel any feedback is personal criticism, rather than valuable input. The Market will refine you, improve you, and push you toward excellence. Embrace it.
- Pressfield, S., Writing Wednesdays: Shadow Novels.
- Pressfield, S., The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. 2002, New York, Boston: Warner Books.