Let’s flip impostor syndrome on its head.
A lot of people are afraid to dream big because they’ll feel like frauds when they get what they want.
There’s this concept of ‘fake it until you make it’ that says you should behave in a way you’re unaccustomed to in order to grow into the person you know you’re supposed to be.
What if we have it backward?
What if the person who aims for their goals without shame is the real you?
Isn’t it more fraudulent to want to live a certain way but avoid doing it? You have a version of your life you want to live, and you’re not living it. Seems pretty fake to me.
Remove these self-defeating beliefs so you can become who you really are.
I have this recurring theme in my writing.
Help yourself –> help those around you (family, friends, your tribe) — > help your local community — > then worry about saving the world.
I get a lot of flack about my individualistic tone because I should be worried about bigger issues like climate change, elections, and the basket of ‘isms’ that plague society.
I’d challenge people with that critique to tell me exactly what I’m supposed to do. How can I personally solve the destruction of the planet other than minding my own carbon footprint? Are my ‘save the planets’ tweets going to help? There are experts working on the problem and I trust them.
I can do my civic duty and vote during elections, stay informed, and maybe write a letter to my congressperson. Aside from that, how am I going to change the geopolitical landscape of planet earth singlehandedly? Obsession with politics tends to make your life worse.
You see where I’m going here. Even if you took the maximum amount of time and effort into ‘fixing the world’ you’d still have plenty of time left over to work on yourself and affect those around you.
Get rid of the belief that taking care of yourself first makes you selfish. If anything, it makes you better equipped to help other people and the world at large.
Think about how often you automatically disqualify yourself from an opportunity before you even try.
How many things do you consider ‘out of your league’ with no real evidence or justification?
A mentor of mine has a saying:
There’s no room for speculation
Don’t automatically assume something won’t work before you try it. Try it and see if it works. You’d be surprised at how often it does. Early on in my writing career, I pitched some heavy hitter websites to feature my work. A decent chunk said no, but some of them said yes.
I used to disqualify myself and say things like “I’ll never write a New York Times bestseller,” but several fans of my work have compared it to New York Times bestselling authors. Back in the day, I sold myself short. These days, I believe I’m just as good as them. That mega-bestseller will happen eventually.
Here’s your new mantra: find out for yourself.
Don’t speculate about what might happen. Once you get in the habit of ‘finding out for yourself’ you realize rejection and failure aren’t as bad as they seem and you’ll also realize how many opportunities you missed out on in the past because you killed your chances by not trying at all.
Hansel Emmanuel is one of the top basketball players in his state and he’s received a Division I scholarship offer. He’s known for his ankle-breaking moves, explosive dunks, and overall offensive prowess.
He also happens to only have one arm.
He could’ve told himself a story that he needed two arms to be a great basketball player, but he didn’t. Instead, he figured out a way to work with what he had.
Most people have a self-defeating belief that they need [x] to have [y].[x] Genius level talent. [y] Successful career. [x] Model looks. [y] A great dating life or a partner who loves them. [x] A huge network and a bunch of start-up money. [y] A successful business.
Do all the items I mentioned in category [x] help when it comes to achieving outcome [y]? Duh. Some things come more easily to others than they do to you and vice versa.
You have to find your edge by working with what you have. You have to be you no matter what, always. Are you really going to sell yourself short because you’re not perfect or you don’t have the perfect environment to succeed?
Be like Hansel. Don’t let what you lack define who you are and what you’re capable of.
I’m not the type to cut people off who aren’t on some magical self-improvement journey, but I do have one hard and fast rule for who I decide to let in my life.
It’s the 10th law in Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power:
Avoid the unhappy and unlucky
I keep ‘woe is me’ types as far away as possible. They have the energy of a malignant tumor. I had a friend who was like this in college. I’d be physically and mentally exhausted after spending time with him because his negative energy drained me. Ultimately, I had to cut all ties with him.
Be very mindful of the way you talk to yourself and talk about yourself. I don’t believe in the literal law of attraction, but the words you use and the way you perceive the world can shape your outcomes because you’re priming your brain to spot things that confirm what you already believe.
I’m reminded of a saying. There’s a difference between being broke and being poor. Broke is a condition. Poor is a mindset.
You might not have the circumstances you want right now. There’s zero shame in that just like there’s zero shame in being broke. But avoid forming a mindset defined by lack, defined by what goes wrong, defined the opportunities that didn’t go your way.
You deserve good things to happen to you. Underneath all the doubts and limiting beliefs, don’t you agree?
As long as you’re not hurting anyone, you should do whatever you want with your life.
As far as the idea of defeating yourself before you even try. It’s just a thing we humans do from time to time. No matter how many self-help articles you read, it can be really hard to overcome.
But you’re still alive, so you can still keep trying. I always come back to that belief. Doesn’t matter what happened in the past. It doesn’t matter how many times you hesitated to pull the trigger. Everything in the past is already written and unchangeable.
But the future is wide open and full of opportunities if you find a way to believe in yourself.