172. Imposter Syndrome As An Olympic Sport
Solo Synchronized Swimming was an official Olympic sport from 1984 through the 1992 Olympics.
I kid you not.
Solo Synchronized Swimming.
For additional clarity on this subject, let me remind you of the definition of “synchronized”:
“to occur at the same time or the same rate”
In order for something to happen at the “same time” or “same rate”, by definition there must be at least one other thing with which the first is the same. You simply can not synchronize one thing without another. It’s impossible.
You can’t have a conversation without another person; that’s just you acting crazy and talking to yourself. Similarly, you can’t synchronize swimming alone; it’s just you looking like a Saturday Night Live skit in a pool.
Yet Solo Synchronized Swimming was an Olympic sport for three successive Olympics.
Remember this. We’re going to circle back to it in a minute.
The Successful Imposter
An estimated 70% of people feel imposter-like symptoms at some point in their lives. I’m proud to say that I’m in the majority.
I’m guessing it feels great to be the smartest person in the room. When you’re the one who has the right answers and everybody looks for your feedback, it probably can really boost the ego.
It’s never happened to me, so I can’t really know for sure. The little voices inside my head always convince me that everybody else is smarter.
Business conferences are the worst for me. Most of the time I just want to stay in my hotel room to avoid the inadequacy of trying to act like somebody that I’m not.
I know I’m not alone in this.
There exists a great big gaggle of people who feel doubt and fear about their ability to succeed in their role at work.
Yet they still succeed.
That’s the thing about Imposter Syndrome: you can’t feel like an imposter unless you’re already successful.
The Five Archetypes of Imposter Syndrome
There are five types of imposter archetypes:
1. The Perfectionist
Even the slightest error or flaw will deem the entire effort a complete failure.
2. The Expert
When they don’t know something, they often feel shame.
3. The Soloist
Accomplishing by themselves is the only way they can prove their worth.
4. The Natural Genius
Mastering tasks quickly is the only way they feel pride in themselves
5. The Superperson
Self-worth is hinged on the belief that they can effectively juggle more and more roles and responsibilities.
Which archetype defines you?
I’m proud to admit that I’ve mastered all five archetypes. I want to be the best imposter ever. Nobody is going to be more dysfunctional than I am. What can I say, I’m an overachiever.
But seriously, I’ve felt like an imposter for most of my career yet it wasn’t until about a decade ago that I understood those feelings and tried to extricate them from my life.
I’d pretend to be confident for a while, but inevitably fear and doubt crept in again and took over. I tried everything I could to force away the feelings of inadequacy and doubt. But, alas, nothing worked.
Then I had an important revelation.
The goal is not to avoid feelings of fear and doubt. Feeling fear and doubt is normal.
The thing that separates the imposter from the self-confident person is not the feelings of doubt, but rather the acceptance that those feelings are normal.
It’s ok to not know the answers. It’s ok to not be the smartest. It’s ok to ask seemingly naive questions. It’s ok.
Now, whenever I feel inadequate, I remember how it took the International Olympic Committee 8 years to realize that there is no such thing as solo synchronized swimming, and suddenly, like a gosh darn miracle, I feel normalcy in my life again.
If the entire IOC can be so moronic as to validate that “sport” and still be ok with it, well, I can feel justified with my discomfort and understand it’s normal.
Remember, there are a lot of morons out there, often in leadership roles. As for you - you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and, doggone it, people like you.
Now, how about you go synchronize your swimming.
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“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not."
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This Week’s Book Review
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 10 of 10
For fans of: Time Traveler’s Wife, Marilyn Monroe, dramatic comedy
Taylor Jenkins Reid is my new favorite writer. I first became intrigued with her writing through Daisy Jones and the Six. Then I really began appreciating her with Malibu Rising.
And then I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and, frankly, I want to be friends with Taylor Jenkins Reid.
I thought this book was so good that I had to take a break from reading once I finished. I tried starting other books but they all paled in comparison to this one. I was actually… read more
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