You Might be Like Neil Armstrong (and don't even know it)
Do you know who Neil Gaiman is?
Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books and more. He’s won numerous awards including the Hugo, the Newbery and Carnegie medals. His 2012 Commencement speech at the University of the Arts has been viewed close to a million times. And my personal favorite: He wrote a couple of episodes of Dr. Who.
In other words, he’s amazingly awesome. And he wrote something interesting on his blog awhile ago that I want to share with you:
Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.
That wonderful internal dialog warning us that all of our doubts and fears are crashing in around us; that our success is due to luck and that we may be discovered and unmasked as a fraud or phony. Can you relate?
Often, imposter syndrome goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism where we think we have to do everything perfectly and by ourselves. That means never asking for help. After all, if we ask for help we’re sure to be found out, right?
And when we feel like an imposter, we’re not authentic, we’re not establishing close relationships, we’re not in a place of joy, and we certainly aren’t living our aligned life. The good news? Imposter Syndrome generally affects high achievers. So, if you feel like a fraud, chances are you are seen as a successful, high achiever! Boo-yeah!
Let me give you two tricks you can use to help lessen or eliminate the feeling that you are not good enough!
- Take a look at what you do well. Let’s get real for a moment, okay? We can’t all be good at everything. But we are good at certain things. And just because you are good it and it comes easy to you does not mean it has no value. Write down what you are really good at. Maybe it’s organizing, maybe it’s strategizing, or maybe it’s taking a complex idea and making it simple. Write down what you are really good at and embrace that. Then, take some time to appreciate your area of expertise and celebrate yourself.
- Change your thinking (who didn’t know that was coming?). It’s time to reframe how you think about your achievements. It’s time to get real. Would it be possible to spend just one hour less on that particular project? Would you be willing to let someone read a draft that isn’t completely polished? Instead of being 100% perfect, would you be willing to have it be 95% perfect? Or (God forbid!) simply ‘good enough?’
And of course bonus:
- Talk to a mentor or someone who can help. We need to move away from comparing ourselves to others and embrace our own style and genius. Remember, you are not alone. It may not be so much about whether we fear failing, looking foolish, or not being perfect, it’s about whether or not we let those fears keep us from taking actions needed to live more in alignment with who we have come here to be. Remember, you’re amazing!
Say YES to yourself and celebrate your talents!
Women hire Janet to design a life of meaning, fulfillment, and passion because most struggle with putting everyone else first, playing small, and feeling like a fraud. She helps them crush their excuses so they can move beyond the negative voices in their head and unleash their purpose, unmask their self-confidence, and uncover possibilities that they have been blind to.
Bottom line: You need to say “YES” to yourself in order to live the aligned life you were meant to live.