There’s a question that nags at your insides. With each new blog post, video, or email to your subscriber list, you may be asking, “Was that any good? Am I any good at this?” At one time or another, we’ve all felt like an impostor.
How do you overcome self-doubt and stand secure atop the platform you’ve built?
Doubt Is a Good Sign
On April 19, 1995, a man robbed two banks in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania during broad daylight. He wore no mask, and security camera footage was shown that evening on the 11:00 news. Only a matter of minutes passed before a tip identified the man: McArthur Wheeler. Few observers would be surprised at the speed at which the police found the suspect. After all, he wore no mask. But Wheeler was shocked, telling the police, “But I wore the juice.”
It turns out, Wheeler rubbed lemon juice on his face before the robberies. He understood lemon juice to be an effective invisible ink and assumed it would render his face invisible to security cameras. He wasn’t delusional, just deeply mistaken—and with irritated eyes to boot.
The event led two psychologists to publish a paper about cognitive bias. Their finding, known as the Dunning-Kruger effect (named for the authors), concludes that some people lack the awareness about their cognitive abilities. In short, people with the bias, like McArthur Wheeler, believe they are smarter than they actually are.
If you’ve ever looked at your work, be it the content you produce or the products you offer, and wondered, “Am I good enough? Do I really have what it takes?” the Dunning-Kruger is good news for you. By simply thinking to ask these questions and evaluate your work, you have the self-awareness and cognitive capacity to show you do have what it takes!
So, why do you doubt yourself?
Overcome Imposter Syndrome
That feeling you’ve experienced, as it turns out, is incredibly common. Here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.
If there’s any field where Imposter Syndrome is pervasive, it’s the platform-building space. Every blogger, vlogger, speaker, author, or coach doubts their credibility, experience, or authority—sometimes daily.
Even award-winning authors like the late Maya Angelou experience this. After writing her 11th book, Angelou remarked, “Each time, I think ‘Uh-oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’”
You’re not alone. In fact, you have a lot of company, which means we all have a lot of experiences to draw on to help us overcome imposter syndrome.
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Switch Off Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is real, but it’s also fairly simple (if not easy) to cure. You can overcome imposter syndrome at any point by making one mental adjustment: Switch from teaching from experience to teach from experiences. That one little ‘s’ makes all the difference in the world.
Consider these three reasons why teaching from experiences, not experience, will help you overcome doubt:
- Experiences happen in the real world. When you teach from experience, you rely on your expertise, which only fuels feelings of self-doubt. Your experiences, however, exist in day-to-day life; they cannot be denied.
- Experiences create common bonds. Because experiences happen in the real world, your readers are far more likely to relate and find themselves in your stories.
- Experiences overcome doubt. When imposter syndrome creeps in, your experiences will remind you that you have lived through what you’re writing about. Your life is the meat of the work. Writing it down (or recording) for your audience is the easy part.
When you teach from experiences it’s simpler to teach authentically, naturally, and with great effect. Give it a shot, and see how you feel.