Momentum Podcast: 43
The Imposter Will Look For Evidence
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.
If you are anything like me, you can have 100 things go right, one go wrong and you will consistently remember the one.
In all my years as a consultant there is one meeting I remember over and over. I got called out by my client in a very embarrassing way and I will never forget it. It makes sense we have a hard time letting go of terrible meetings, lost deals, being called out, or even just being embarrassed.
All of these situations expose us, make us feel vulnerable and can even make us feel at risk. We are Evolutionary Hunters, mistakes used to kill us. We are programmed to play all out and we all know sometimes it feels like life and death. This obsession over what went wrong is an ancient survival instinct that has served people like us for millennia. In order to stop the obsession over where we missed, we have to proactively create a new perspective for ourselves.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, 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 create our greatest contribution.
Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so we can bend them, break them, and rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because the only way you lose is 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 there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming 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. This is episode 43, The Imposter Looks For Evidence.
In episode 35 I shared imposter syndrome, this undying belief that takes over people like us that we're not good enough, we're not worthy. We shouldn't try to do what we're doing, we shouldn't try to get ahead, we shouldn't try to do more. It's amazing how often I sit down with, and today it happened two or three times. I sit down with a wildly talented entrepreneur who's done amazing things in her life, and there's this level of insecurity there, there's this level of anxiety there, there's this almost compulsion to look over one's shoulder because the better we do, the more we feel this exposure, the more we feel imposter syndrome, the more we fill held in place, and this happens to some of the most talented, successful entrepreneurs on the planet, and it's okay if it happens to you.
It happens to me. I often joke with people that every time I hit record on this podcast, I think, "Is anybody going to listen to this one?" I'm going to jump into the title of the imposter looks for evidence. If you're anything like me, here's what I know. You can have 100 things go right and the one thing that goes wrong is what you'll remember. I was thinking about this yesterday when I wrote the description for this, to record tonight.
As a consultant, I have been in thousands of meetings. There were some days where I would get up in the morning and go to a breakfast meeting, go to meetings all throughout the day, then finish with a dinner meeting. I might have six or seven meetings in a day, all that were significant for someone else. Not for me, but that's what I did every day. But for someone else, it was a meeting with a new accountant, a new opportunity, something that was, and sometimes it was the most important meeting that that person had ever had.
I was good in these meetings. This is why I got asked into them over and over again, and there's one account in South Florida, BrandsMart, that I called down for over 10 years. I must have had hundreds if not thousands of meetings at BrandsMart, but I remember one. I remember one where, and I still remember it to this day. Like, as I talk about it, I'm kind of getting frustrated. I was at this account with two new people that I was representing and we were supposed to meet with a friend of mine and I did everything I possibly could as a consultant not to ever step out of line, not to get the wrong type of attention, not to draw the wrong type of correction from an account, you know?
I wanted to be the person that never made a mistake. There was this day where I was there with new people I was representing, I was supposed to meet with a friend of mine, and we got rerouted to another buyer who I didn't have a great relationship, I didn't know that well, and I wasn't wearing a tie. This was one of those traditional accounts where everybody wore a tie, and I wasn't wearing a tie, because I was meeting with a friend of mine, and he had let me slide on the whole dress code thing, and I had meetings all day with this new account and these two new people that I was with.
I was going to be at BrandsMart and then driving down to three or four other accounts in South Florida, and so I didn't wear a tie, and decided that I was just going to get away with it, until I got rerouted into somebody else's office. We sat down, we did our introductions, and the buyer just went right at me, and said, "Hey, by the way, did you know we have a dress code here? I'm glad that the people you brought understood this, and you should be wearing a tie, as should everybody else." I remember just wanting to climb under the desk.
Here I was, the expert, the consultant, the person who was giving the advice, the person who was helping this whole thing get together, and I was just getting undressed by the client, because I wasn't wearing a tie. It was so embarrassing, because I was the one with the knowledge of the account, I was the one who should have understood what was going on. It was just an error that morning. They switched a product line from one place to another, so I ended up in front of the wrong person. I got crushed, and it wasn't even like a big deal. It was just because of my dress code, or I missed the dress code, and the buyer was doing it to throw off the meeting.
It was also a negotiation tactic on his part just to set us back on our heels, and out of the thousands of meetings I've had at BrandsMart, that's the one that I remember the most vividly. It's the one where I got chewed out, it's the one where I had an issue. Does this happen to you? Because here's what I know about us. When something goes wrong, that will take on such a bigger space in our minds than when something goes right, and I had to reconcile this for myself.
Because it was so hard for me when something would go wrong. It was so hard when something like this would happen. It was all I would think about. So, here's what I realized through obsessive research and looking at the evolutionary hunter for what we are. If you think about what that is, that obsession around what went wrong, I think it helps us almost talk ourselves out of it a little bit, because I want to help you not obsess over what went wrong. I want you to start seeing the things that go right in your life, and start bringing those to the forefront.
But if you think about this logically, as evolutionary hunters, our mistakes used to kill us. So, it makes absolute sense that our focus goes to the negative, to that single negative, because we are evolutionary hunters, we're that small percentage of the population who gets up every day and says, "There can be a better future" and then we endure the vulnerability it takes to make it real. We're the person who stands up in front of the room and says, "I'm going to change things." The world doesn't want change.
So, we're evolutionary hunters, that thousands of years ago, millennia ago, we used to get up in the morning, circle around with our small part of the greater pack, or greater tribe, and we would go out and we'd kill things. When you're going out to kill, when you're going out to go over a new mountain, to go across this stream, to go where no one's gone before, to go into unchartered territory, unchartered waters, mistakes will kill you.
But here's the difference for us today. Mistakes no longer kill us, and that bias that we have in our minds to find the deficit that we have, and obsess over it until it's gone served us evolutionarily, but it no longer does. In order to get rid of this, in order to move passed this, in order to start focusing on the positive, we have to proactively tell our modern selves in our primitive brains that the focus needs to shift from an obsession on the mistakes that we know won't kill us, but our evolutionary brain doesn't know that. Our hunter's brain doesn't know that the one meeting where I screwed up and didn't wear a tie isn't going to kill me. That's why I can still remember it today.
But I don't obsess over it anymore. Still, I get a little like, "Ah" when I bring it up. But it's not what I think about when I'm going into a meeting anymore. I can tell you that after that happened, for years every time I was walking into a meeting, I would think, "Oh, my gosh, I hope that doesn't happen again." I know that affected me for years. Like, I had a hard time shaking it, but today, with the knowledge that as evolutionary hunters, where we made a mistake would have killed us, it makes sense to me that that's where my brain is, so here's what I've done to shift the perspective, to shift the focus.
As evolutionary hunters, there's something else we do. We make a kill. We go on this hunt, we make things happen. That's where we achieve, that's where we feel alive, that's where we feel most tied into who we are, and so we can shift from that obsession on what went wrong by purposefully focusing ourselves on where did we win each day, and what are we grateful for?
Now, these aren't just tactics I'm telling you off the cuff. I mean, there has been study after study that shows a focus on where you won or what went right during the day, and a focus on gratitude for what you're grateful for scientifically, neurophysiologically, will have a massive effect on your body. Your neurology will change. The chemicals in your body change when you acknowledge where you won and what you're grateful for, and this is almost a modern day counteraction to the obsession with what's gone wrong in our lives. Because we both know, it's not just that one meeting. I mean, doesn't the imposter syndrome in you look for evidence? When you step out to do something new, to do something important, don't you almost go check things that will tell you you shouldn't? I watch Libsyn which is the distribution service for this podcast obsessively. I check it like two or three times a day to see how we're doing, and I even put on Facebook regularly our exact numbers. I'm sharing with everyone transparently what's going on.
I know that for me, that's really twofold. One is I'm proving to myself, "Hey look, we can do this. It's going well. I'm tracking numbers, I'm doing what I should as a good business person," but two, I also know that every time I go look at the numbers, I'm in the back of my mind thinking, "Today's the day they're going to go down. Today's the day they're going to fall apart. Today's the day just nobody's going to have listened."
It's because of that imposter syndrome finding evidence, bringing up evidence from the past, trying to keep me from making myself more vulnerable than I want to. So, for all of you, the way to get out of this obsession on what went wrong, the way that we stop the imposter looking for evidence, or at least we hold it at bay so that we can move forward and create momentum, is we proactively focus by sitting down at the end of each day and writing down with a pen, not typing, but writing down with a pen on paper, where did you win that day? What went right? Where were the wins? Where were the things where you created momentum, moved yourself forward? It doesn't matter how small they are.
Then, the second part of that is acknowledging what you're grateful for. I learned firsthand just how important that practice is in 2007 when Cadey and I went bankrupt. We ended up going from multimillion dollars in wealth to figuring out how to buy groceries, and my wife, in her wisdom, held our relationship together and kept us in momentum by making us every night acknowledge three things we were grateful for. There were nights I didn't want to hear the word grateful, but I know that in so many ways, that practice in that incredibly dark time in our lives gave us massive momentum.
So, I want you to know that if you obsess on that small thing that went wrong, if you have imposter syndrome that goes out actually looking for evidence of why you shouldn't, why you should stop, why you should hold yourself back, and if you're in a massive transition right now where you feel vulnerable, where you feel exposed, where you might be looking over your shoulder, you're having those anxious thoughts, sit down at the end of each day and write down at least three things you won. Three things that went right. Then, write down what you're grateful for.
It will rewire your perspective, rewire your focus, and it won't take that imposter away, 'cause that just doesn't happen for people like us. But it will certainly lower the volume and the intensity with which you hear it and allow you to create momentum. If you're ready to create more momentum than you ever thought possible, then join me in my momentum masterclass. It is a brand new course for entrepreneurs who want to improve their life, improve their focus on their business, improve the momentum that they're having, and it is the first course that is a holistic approach to entrepreneurs creating momentum where it is body, brain, and business, and we get you moving in the right direction fast.
Go to MomentumWebClass.com. MomentumW-e-b-C-l-a-s-s.com, and I'd love to have you check it out. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow right back here on the Momentum Podcast.