65: Outsmarting Imposter Syndrome

Episode 65: Tricks and Techniques For Outsmarting Imposter Syndrome

You are great, you really are!

Do you suffer from “imposter syndrome” – feeling like at any moment someone’s going to realize you don’t really know what you’re doing, and all your touted accomplishments were luck or chance?

If so, you’re in good company. Nobel Prize winners, hugely successful actors, entrepreneurs of all types, and others from all walks of life are right there with you. “When are they gonna realize…?” And “If only they knew the truth!”

Self-doubt is natural, and there are many reasons for it. But we need to keep on working, keep on creating, keep on making the world a better place. And so it’s good to have a few techniques for beating back that fear of being found out (which, of course, is pretty much completely irrational.)

You’re not alone

Just to be clear, it’s extremely common to feel like you’re in over your head, unqualified, and that your successes are just flukes. It’s not true – but it’s common.

For example, here are three articles listing out famous people who feel like imposters. (Thanks to Clement Kao for sending these links!):

I think you’ll agree that any of these actors, authors, scientists, creators, athletes, luminaries should have no worries about their legitimacy – and yet they’re just as worried about being found out as you and I might be.

And for a little taste of Jay Abraham, who does have marketing superpowers, check out this podcast episode with him and another legend, Dan Kennedy or this one from the Science of Success podcast. You can find a lot more about Jay at jayabraham.com, and on dozens of other podcasts.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

Well, there are lots of techniques. This episode arose out of a pep talk I had to give myself recently, to help me remember how to beat back my imposter syndrome earlier this month.

To get the full details, check out the episode, but here are the techniques I share:

  • Compare yourself to others who are succeeding at what you’re doing.
  • Pay attention to your strengths (if we’re using our strengths it doesn’t feel like work – but it looks amazing to others).
  • Test yourself.
  • Learn a little, if you need to fill a gap.
  • Remember you’re not that special – everyone has Imposter Syndrome, so it probably doesn’t really apply to you.
  • Celebrate your past successes.

A few additional resources

  1. I highly recommend taking the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment (the link is to the book, which you buy to get the code to take the test) to find out your strengths. Once you’ve done that, check out Lisa Cummings’ Lead Through Strengths podcast for some guidance on how to use what you’ve learned.
  2. For an even more detailed assessment of your aptitudes, check out the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation’s two-day aptitude test. It’s pretty amazing and revealing – also not cheap at about $600. You have to do it in-person – which might not be an option during these pandemic times, but definitely put it on your wishlist for the future.
  3. Product management and product marketing are highly complex, unpredictable, uncertain domains. It’s often especially hard to feel like you’re making progress in that circumstance. You might find the Cynefin model useful – I have – for understanding the implications of working in complex domains.

Even more stuff!

If you want to learn to tell your own stories better – make them more exciting, engaging, and persuasive – check out my free, live master class on “Telling Your Own Stories.” I’ll be presenting it a few times in May. Go to alltheresponsibility.com/masterclass for the schedule and to sign up.

I mentioned my book The Secret Product Manager Handbook in the episode. If you’d like to check that out (it’s pretty good!), you can find it on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form.

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