Impostor syndrome - the belief that you're a fraud - is one of the biggest productivity killers in our culture. Every day, it plagues millions of people with doubts and fears, keeping them from achieving their full potential. Especially in today's world of constant social media, where we're bombarded with images of other people's success, impostor syndrome robs people of their creativity and well-being, causing stress, burn-out, and poor performance.
When you suffer from Imposter Syndrome – whether it’s in your work, business, passion project, or even your relationships or health (yes, that’s real), you’re less likely to think creatively, problem-solve intelligently, and manage effectively.
Fortunately, there is a solution.
Are you ready? It’s simple:
Know your value.
Don’t freak out. I know what you’re thinking: How can I know my value when I don't feel like I’m enough?
Most people believe their value is so much “less” than other people’s. Most people wildly underestimate their own value.
Listen to me: if you understood your own value, it would blow your mind.
I know, that might be hard to believe. So let’s look at how we can we know our value when we’re not feeling it.
The trick is to look at your strengths, not weaknesses.
What are you good at? What do people say that you’re good at? What do you get compliments on? What do you bring to the table?
Focus on those things. Make a list—I mean really, write it down; go you’re your journal or a sheet of paper. This is too important to let those things slip by. Even after you’ve written them down, notice as more pop up throughout the day. I challenge you to keep looking for answers even after you think you've named everything. Nothing is too small here.
Also, make sure to count your past achievements, because they contribute to your value. What have you done in your past that will help you succeed now?
Have you made a big sale? Gotten a great job? Won an award? Graduated? Finished a tough project? Wowed your boss? Wowed yourself?
There’s no age limit for this question, either. Even something you did when you were five years old counts!
Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine your life—your home, your work, your social scene—if you were to disappear.
Imagine a scenario like (my all-time favorite movie) It’s A Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart’s character gets to see his life play out as if he had never been born. At first, his self-worth is so low that he thinks the world would be better off without him. But then he sees how all the lives around him would have gone completely differently—in fact, they would have gone much worse.
What if you could peer into a version of your life like that? What would you see?
Who would be impacted, and how? What wouldn’t get done? What projects and tasks and Pearl goals would go unrealized because you weren’t there to do them?
That’s some pretty impressive value, isn’t it?
Train yourself to focus on what’s great about you, and what you've already accomplished. Stand firmly in that knowledge. Don't be modest. Don't discount your own achievements. Use them as a foundation to stand on. Embody those things, and that will give you strength. Before you go into an interview, go onstage, start a new project, pick up the phone, whatever—remind yourself of your own incredible, immeasurable value.
Don’t let anyone—especially yourself—belittle that.
There are lots of ways to combat Imposter Syndrome, and in the coming weeks, I’ll go through some more important lessons. Until then, go out, know your value, and shine.
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