Transcript: A New (& Better) Way to Look at Imposter Syndrome

December 21, 2021

AMY PORTERFIELD: “She was talking about women, and she said, ‘What if we stop saying we have imposter syndrome?’ So I piped up, and I'm, like, ‘Well, what exactly do you mean by that?’ And she said, ‘Well, what if we just looked at what we were doing and where we are in the world and we just took all the emotions and feelings and even self-doubt that we had and we just said, “I deserve this. I deserve this”?’ And I thought, ‘Okay. Well, you're making it sound way too simple,’ because I thought about all the times I talked about it on this podcast and what I wrote about in my book, and I just thought, ‘Imposter syndrome is alive and well.’ But then as we started to just get into this conversation more, I thought, ‘Wait a second. I think I'm looking at this all wrong.’” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: Well, hey, there. Amy, here. Before we dive into the show today, we have some exciting news. As of this month, Online Marketing Made Easy is officially part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. Something we love about the HubSpot Podcast Network is all of the inspiring shows that are dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially online entrepreneurs. If you love our show and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out the Goal Digger Podcast and My First Million. Check out all of these shows and more at 

Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I am so thrilled that you're tuning in, because today we are going to look at reevaluating imposter syndrome. And let me tell you, impostor syndrome is a topic that I've talked about on this podcast many times and in many of my courses. In fact, it's a chapter of my upcoming book. But something recently happened. I had an amazing conversation with a complete stranger in Napa that kind of has me reevaluating how I look at imposter syndrome.  

So, let me back up just a little bit. At the time of this recording, I just got back from Napa. How did I live my entire life in Southern California and never visited Napa in Northern Cal? It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.  

Now, for those of you who have been to Napa, I think you need to start telling your friends that it's a marathon. If you're going to Napa to go wine tasting, which I did with my girlfriends, you need to warn us that we need to be ready for this. Like, three different wineries in a day. Thank God they don't give you a lot of wine. Maybe it didn't help that I ordered an extra glass at the second winery. But thank God I paced myself, because I would have been crawling back to my hotel room if I didn’t. Like, that’s a lot of alcohol. It was so much fun, so many laughs. I loved every minute of it.  

While I was there, the group that I was with got put into another group of people that they were complete strangers to us, and we were all getting the wine tour together. And so as we were sipping our wine, we got a little downtime. And there was this woman there that was talking about imposter syndrome, and she was having a conversation with someone else, and I kind of added myself to the conversation because she said something that just was jarring to me. And she said, “What if we stop saying that we have imposter syndrome,” especially for women, but this can apply to men as well. But she was talking about women, and she said, “What if we stop saying we have imposter syndrome?” So I piped up, and I'm, like, “Well, what exactly do you mean by that?” And she said, “Well, what if we just looked at what we were doing and where we are in the world and we just took all the emotions and feelings and even self-doubt that we had and we just said, ‘I deserve this. I deserve this’? And I thought, “Okay. Well, you're making it sound way too simple,” because I thought about all the times I talked about it on this podcast and what I wrote about in my book, and I just thought, “Imposter syndrome is alive and well.” But then as we started to just get into this conversation more, I thought, “Wait a second. I think I'm looking at this all wrong.” In fact, I’ll likely want to change some of what I wrote in the book, in my chapter. Thank God we're still in the draft stage.  

But here's how this all went down. First, let me take a step back and break this down. I do agree that our society has made striving and hustling and status just a way to define not just entrepreneurs but successful entrepreneurs. So when we look at somebody else, let's say in our industry or in our niche, and we look at them, and if we consider them successful, then we definitely are looking at their accolades, maybe their certifications or their education or the amount of money they're making or the amount of people they have on their email list or how many people are following them on social. Like, we're looking at all of that. And then maybe our expertise looks a little bit different, or we're not quite where they're at because we have a smaller audience, we're not making as much money, maybe you don't have that master's degree that they have, and then we start to question ourselves. And we ask that very popular question, Who am I to teach this? Who am I to xyz? Like, what am I doing? And you could just fill in the blank. Who am I to blank? because if you're anything like me, you have no trouble coming up with a lot of things to fill in the blank. Like, should I really be doing this? Do I have what it takes?  

And here's what I want to say and what I learned from that conversation in Napa. I want to challenge myself and I want to challenge you to look at imposter syndrome differently. What if you are not an imposter, because you're not showing up the same way as maybe someone else is or how we were taught or how we think it should all look, maybe you're not an imposter just because you're wavering on a decision; or sometimes you feel ill equipped; or maybe you play that comparison game, and you look around and you start to think maybe you don't measure up. Maybe you’re not an imposter; maybe you’re just human. Maybe you're just like everybody else. Maybe it has nothing to do with what we call imposter syndrome. Every time we succumb to “imposter syndrome,” and I'm now using air quotes, we are letting other people take up space where we know we are just as good or better, meaning when you say, “Oh, I'm not really cut out for this,” or “Who am I to be doing this?” you're actually leaving space for somebody else to come take that space and do their thing, even though, likely in your heart of hearts, you know that if you just had a little bit more time, a little bit more experience, if you just give yourself a little more grace, you could crush it in that area. And that's where we're selling ourselves short.  

Like, I have a competitive spirit. So I find this way of looking at all those feelings as maybe this just means I'm human, not that I'm an imposter, like, I can get behind that 100 percent. So if you at least will try this on with me—again, instead of saying, “I have imposter syndrome” or instead of even believing the things you're thinking, like, “Who am I to be doing this? I'm not cut out for this. I'm ill equipped,” whatever, “What will people think?” instead of all of that, you can have those thoughts, but then you just kind of laugh it off, like, “Oh, yeah, I'm human. I'm human. These are normal. I'm not going to believe them. But these are normal thoughts to have, and I'm moving on.”  

I know I'm making this a little bit more simple than it is at times, but just try it on for a second. And if you did try it on, you might be saying, “Okay. Well, how do I move forward? What do I do here? How do you reject the term imposter syndrome? How do we start to reframe it and shift our mindset?” And you know how I feel about this: you get into action. And we start micro, like one baby step, one action at a time. We just start because once you start, it gets easier. Once you start, once you go for it, it's hard to question yourself. Like, you have no time to be saying, like, “Who am I to be doing this?” because you're like, “Shut your mouth. I'm too busy. Like, just let me do my thing.”  

Remember, I always say that action creates clarity. And so if you want to go after those big, bold goals and your self-doubt, your belief that maybe you're not good enough, your fear of not knowing enough or being enough, all of that is slowing you down. But if you get into action, you get moving forward, and those thoughts, there's no space for them right now. There's no time. You're in action.  

And also, just for the record, whoever said that questioning something made you an imposter? Think about a leader you admire. Okay. I'm going to go way back in history. But, like, think about Edison, who created the light bulb. Or here's a new one I just learned about: Marie van Brittan Brown. She invented the very first home security system. So let's think about her, not Edison. Let's think about Marie van Brittan Brown. So when she was creating the very first home security system, do you think she questioned herself? Do you think she questioned her design? Do you think she thought, “Oh, god, I hope I can figure this out. I hope this works. I hope that I can move past all these challenges”? because I’m sure there were many. Absolutely. But would you say, “Uh, Marie, you are an imposter. You are an imposter”? No. We would actually never put that on someone else. But we're really quick to put it on ourselves.  

When we question something, that only makes room for improvement. So when she questioned her design, when she questioned why these things weren't working as she had hoped they would or had planned they would work, when she questioned herself, then she had to find a solution. So when we question ourselves, that only makes room for improvement.  

So, I love this idea of flipping the script on imposter syndrome. Instead of, “Who am I to do xyz?” what about, “Who am I not to? Why not me?” You don't always have to get it right the first time, but, my friend, you do have to try. Failure doesn't make you an impostor. Competition or comparing yourself to others doesn't make you an impostor. Having nerves, being scared doesn't make you an imposter. And questioning yourself, sure as heck, doesn't make you an imposter. So let's stop giving that phrase so much power.  

And now I'm putting this out here on my podcast, so that means I have to do the same, and I have to really encourage you and my students to stop giving in to imposter syndrome, but instead flipping the script. So, instead of saying, “I have imposter syndrome because, like, who am I to be doing this?” or “I'm not enough,” or “I'm not ready,” or whatever it is, just start telling yourself—and I know this is a big leap—but just tell yourself until you believe it, “I’m the best person for this. No one else can teach or educate the way I do,” because, for the record, that is absolutely true. Something makes you unique, and while you can admire others with what they do and how they do it, they can never show up the way you do, and vice versa. So just tell yourself, “I'm the best person for this. No one else can teach or educate the way I do.” There is more than enough space for all of us, and, my friend, you can take up as much as you want, and I actually really hope you do. So take the first micro step you can in whatever area you're feeling like an imposter, and then start to reframe your mindset and how you show up. But promise me you'll show up. Promise me that you'll take up space. Deal? Okay, deal.  

I can't wait to see what happens when we all begin to shed that heavy layer of imposter syndrome that we've so happily paired together with being an entrepreneur. I just want to kick it to the curb. Listen, a little wine can change your perspective, and that's exactly what it did for me. So I'm very glad for the boozy conversations I had in Napa, because it helped me to reframe this whole idea.  

All right, so I hope you love this Shorty episode, and I hope you found it valuable. And thanks for hanging out with me here. And if you'd be so kind, please invite one of your entrepreneurial friends to the podcast. Just grab the link to this episode, or all the episodes, text it to a friend, share it with them; I would greatly appreciate it.  

All right, my friends, I can't wait to see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness. Same time, same place. Can’t wait. 

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