Momentum Podcast: 35
Imposter Syndrome And Why We Hold Ourselves Back
by Alex Charfen
Last week, I had massive, overwhelming anxiety. Here's why, I was sick. I was actually sick from before the 1st of July, until about Saturday or Sunday, so over seven days.
Every successful entrepreneur I've ever worked with deals with impostor syndrome. This is that deep, dreaded feeling that makes us feel like we are not good enough, and can even make us feel like a fraud.
People like us are constantly driving for new outcomes, trying to improve this situation around us, and doing what we can to make the world a better place. We live on the edge of our capabilities and experience, and what comes next.
When you are someone who is committed to doing everything you can in this world, you will rarely have all the experience, health, and resources you need. This can cause self-doubt, self-judgment, and even worse can free us from doing what we know we should do in order to create momentum.
This episode is for those of us who are committed to taking our lives to the next level, creating extraordinary outcomes in the world, and who just won't give in or give up. Momentum is a natural state for people like us, and once we get to it we can overcome imposter syndrome and anything else that is holding us back.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, world makers, shot takers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.
Sure, we'll pay attention to their rules, but only so we can bend them, break them, and then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate that there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real.
We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution, and we always will be. Welcome to episode 35. This topic is so close to who I am and the people I've coached and the clients I've had today, and so much of my experience. It's imposter syndrome, and why we hold ourselves back. So first, for those of you who haven't heard about imposter syndrome or are unfamiliar with the term, it's this debilitating feeling that entrepreneurs get that we're not good enough, that we shouldn't be doing what we should do, that no matter what level of success we have, we're going to get found out that we're still a fraud, that people are going to understand that we're just not good enough.
If you've never felt this way, consider yourself fortunate, but I have some news for you. My belief is the more success you create, the more momentum you create, the more wealth you create, the more influence, affluence you create, the more likely this is to happen to you. In fact, let me read you a quote from someone who I hold in the highest regards. One of my all time life heroes, Albert Einstein, who started as a physicist, but I see him more as a philosopher, because I learned more from his sharing about his life and how he viewed life, and how he saw the world.
His quote, I used it at my wedding. "There are two ways to look at life. One is that nothing is a miracle, and two is that everything is. I choose the latter." This is Einstein's quote about himself. He says, "The exaggerated esteem in which my life work is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler." Albert Einstein. So, here's a man who changed the world of physics as we know it, who reset the bar in mathematics as we know it, who changed our impression of the world, the universe, how things are put together, and how the world actually works, and he feels like an involuntary swindler because the exaggerated esteem in which his life work is held.
So, people look at his work with such high esteem, with such high regard. They respect him so much that he feels like he's almost taking advantage. How many of us have felt that way? See, what happens is there's this feeling that sneaks in. The more success we create, the more momentum we create, we can't help but start feeling a little bit of imposter syndrome and here's why. I mean, this actually makes sense. We are always growing and pushing our own boundaries. We're always trying to make things better, we're always trying to make things newer, bigger.
We're doing things our own way and so when you're always running at the edge of what you know, and what you will soon know, we often feel like we don't have enough, we don't have what we should. We just don't have what it takes to go to that next step. Again, if you've ever felt that way, I just want to share another quote with you from someone who you have to respect, Jennifer Lopez.
She's sold 70 million albums. Think about that. 70 million people have made the decision to buy her music, and here's a quote from her. "Even though I had sold 70 million albums, there was a feeling like I'm no good at this with each new record release." So, someone who's already proven it to themselves, who's shown themselves they can do it, who's had 70 million people confirm their status, confirm how good they are, still feels like, "I'm no good at this."
We as entrepreneurs do the same. Because each new album that Jennifer Lopez releases, it's a new sound, it's new music, it's untested, it's uncharted, and you can't help but feel like you're in uncharted territory when you're someone like us. Here's another reason why this happens. We as entrepreneurs, as individuals, we compare our reality, how we're feeling, what we're seeing around us, the insecurities we have, the lack of success we perceive, and we're comparing it to someone else's veneer. We're comparing our worst day to their best day, and I see entrepreneurs do this all the time.
I can't tell you how often I've sat down with someone who feels like they're not doing enough, they're not creating enough momentum, they haven't done enough, and it's all because they perceive that everyone around them is feeling better, doing better, in more momentum and creating more in the world, but the fact is they feel exactly like you do. Then, here's another reason why this happens. When we start to feel like an imposter, when that feeling starts to creep in, when we start feeling like we're not enough, we often go out and find people we can compare ourselves with, and actually torture ourselves with.
We'll go find someone who's doing what we want. We'll go on social media and look at people who are succeeding in a way we want to succeed, and we will take their veneer, their produced life on social media and compare it to the reality we experience. I've seen this throughout my career. In consume electronics, when I was a consultant, some of the most successful people I ever worked with were the most nervous, the most apprehensive about the next move, the next meeting, about the next big deal.
When I worked in real estate, some of the top agents in the world, the conversations I would have with them were exactly this, how they were worthy, how they could do more, how they could bring more value into the world. Working recently with entrepreneurs who are growing and scaling massive companies, these are the types of text messages I get. "Things are getting weird, we're selling way more than we thought we could. It's starting to feel a little goofy." "Hey, does it ever get easier? Does it ever feel more natural?" Here's the fact, and I want all of you to know this.
As entrepreneurial personality types, as momentum based beings, evolutionary hunters, we are constantly driving for new. We are constantly pushing ourselves to do more, do better, create something that's brand new in the world, and because we are creators, we will always feel the insecurity of being a creator. See, the alternative is something that we just could not accept. The alternative is accepting someone else's creation. The alternative is falling in line behind someone else. The alternative is not creating, not producing, and not answering that voice in the back of our heads that has been there since the beginning.
See, I know every entrepreneur has a voice that whispers, "Maybe you shouldn't be doing this. Maybe you're not good enough. Maybe you really are a fraud. Maybe they're all going to figure you out." Just like Sheryl Sandberg, and incredibly well known COO. She runs Facebook, and a lot of people credit her with the recent growth of Facebook, with the maturity of Facebook, with how it's showing up better in the marketplace. She's an amazing, incredible leader, and one of the most powerful females in the world today.
Here's a quote from her. "There are still days where I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure if I should be where I am." So, if Sheryl Sandberg feels like that, I want you to understand that it is complete justification that you feel like that. Because I know that along with that small voice that says, "You're a fraud, you shouldn't be doing this, you're not good enough, you shouldn't be here," I know everyone of us has a different voice.
See, I've had thousands of conversations with wildly successful entrepreneurs. I've had the privilege of being in the room with some of the smartest people in the world. I can count some of the wealthiest people on the planet as my past and present clients, my past and present associates and friends. I know that we all have that voice, everyone of them, no matter successful, no matter how much over 10 figures in wealth they have created, they still feel it.
But I want you to also admit maybe for the first time right now, or maybe in a more dramatic way right now, or in a clearer way, that you also hear that voice that fights imposter syndrome. It's that voice in the back of your mind that says, "You can do more, you can be more, you are meant for more," and that voice that has always said, "You are going to change the world." When did you first start hearing it? Take a minute right now and think about that.
Because you know that somewhere in your mentality, somewhere in who you are, there's that voice that tells you, "You are more. You can be more. You can make this work." So, here's some things that make this worse. If we get into a loop of unintentional consumption where we feel like an imposter and we just go out and start listening to people, watching people, taking on information, it can make it even worse.
If we start isolating, pulling back, not trying as hard, not seeing the people around us, not letting the people know what's going on, it can make imposter syndrome worse. Then, here's the biggest one. If you pretend like you don't feel this, if you just stuff it down, if you don't tell people about it, if you don't talk about, it can just make it worse. I'll be very candid with you. There is a time before I hit record on every one of these podcasts where I think, "Is anybody going to listen to this one?"
You know, I've gotten hundreds of positive comments about this podcast, but I've also gotten a few where people say, "Hey, on episode number five you seemed a little confused" or, "On episode 13 I think you said this but you meant to say this." Out of the hundreds of comments I received, you know which ones are indelibly printed on the back of my mind? The ones that were corrections or suggestions, or where people told me that they didn't believe in what I said.
Because we all feel this way. I share it openly because I want you to know I feel this way. My wife and I are independently wealthy. We have created tens of millions of dollars in value and in wealth for our family, and I've created billions of dollars in value for my clients and I still feel this way. I create systems and strategies in my life to help me overcome this, so here's how you can overcome imposter syndrome. These are some of the easiest and most consistent ways to make yourself feel better about who you are.
Number one, realize that every entrepreneur, whether it is a famous business owner, an actor, an actress, a playwright, a screenwrite, somebody who's creating new things, running a major organization, making things happen in the world, changing paradigms for the people around them, 100% of them feel exactly like this.
It's those who keep going, who press pass these feelings, who get over this, that make things happen in the world. Because here's the fact, it's mathematics. We are constantly doing new. We are constantly creating new horizons, new limits, new outcomes, and when you run your life that way, you will constantly be at the edge of what you know and don't know, some expect this feeling.
I want you to start thinking to yourself that every time the voice says, "Hey, you can't do this, you shouldn't do this, you're a fraud," I want you to say back to that voice, "This is exactly what I should be hearing. This means I'm doing the right thing. If that voice gets louder, I'm actually creating the outcomes in the world that I should," and just press pass it. Make it happen, keep going, do not stop.
Natalie Portman, who is a really well known actress, and was in "Star Wars: Episode I," carried a massive production load, also got accepted into Harvard, wrote the Harvard commencement speech 10 years later. This is a quote from her. "When I got into Harvard," which by the way for many is a lifetime achievement, "Just after the release of Star Wars 1," which again, is a lifetime achievement, "I feared people would assume I'd gotten in just for being famous and not worthy of intellectual rigor here."
So, even she was worried about how people would see her, felt like an imposter, didn't know if she had what it takes. So, admit this. Tell the people around you you're feeling it. They'll help you get passed it. If you have the right people in your life, they will push you passed imposter syndrome and help you make your greatest contribution. The second way to do this or the second way to get passed imposter syndrome is to track your effect. Go out and track the results you're getting people, the clients you come in contact, the people that you're talking to, your followers are getting.
See what type of an outcome you're actually creating in the world. It will begin to prove to you just how valuable you actually are. Then, here's a big one that I use on a daily basis, and every one of my private clients uses. Create scoreboards to show yourself progress. Create a scoreboard that shows how much you're selling, how much you're interacting, how much you're talking to people. Create a scoreboard out of a simple process checklist so that you can check off how many you've done.
Don't think for a minute I don't have a podcast scoreboard that shows I've done 35 episodes in less than 70 days, and that we've had 25,000 people watch this. Each time I go to record a new podcast, I go into our tracking system and I look and say, "Look at the thousands of people who have downloaded this, look at how many lives we're touching. Look at how much we're putting out into the world," and it helps me, that simple scoreboard, hit record and get another episode done.
See, I believe every one of us deals with imposter syndrome. If we can put some of the right tactics into our lives, like admitting how we feel, creating scoreboards, tracking the effect we have in the world, and then putting systems and planning processes in place that allow us to see with perspective that we are moving forward, that we aren't plateaued, that we're not hitting the glass ceiling, this is how you and every entrepreneur in history who has overcome that paralyzing self-doubt, has done it.
I want you to, as well. Because here's what I know about imposter syndrome. In order to feel it, you have to be pushing the limitations of what you know. In order for it to affect you, you have to be pushing passed what you've done before, and in order for you to even hear that voice that tells you you are a fraud, you have to be pushing passed where you are, into new territory, and making new things happen. That is exactly who we are. We are evolutionary hunters, we are hardwired to get up every day and go on a quest, go on a hunt, create bigger outcomes, and take them down. So, from this point forward, I want you to welcome that voice. Share it openly with the people around you, and prove it wrong by tracking your success, by showing how much you're doing, and if you track momentum anywhere, it will create momentum everywhere in your life.
If you tell people what's really going on, you're going to start getting the help you need. If you're proactively transparent about how you feel, the world around you will lift you up, and help you make your greatest contribution. As a fellow evolutionary hunter, and a member of your tribe, I want you to know that it's important to me that you do. Because we all go forward faster together.
Join me on the next episode, 36, where I'm going to go through whether you should do business with family and friends, or you should avoid it all together. I think you'll be surprised at my opinions here. I look forward to seeing you on episode 36. If you haven't yet, download the "Entrepreneurial Personality Type" book. Go to FreeMomentumBook.com.
That book will tell you more about yourself than anyone ever has, and I can't wait for you to send me a message through Facebook, send me a message through Instagram, let me know what you think of the book, and I look forward to seeing you on episode 36 of the Momentum Podcast for the entrepreneurial personality type.