Why Do I Feel Like Such a Fraud?
Do I have the smarts or skills to belong?
How many times have I felt like I didn’t deserve to be in my role or that I’m out of my depth? Too many to count. I’m sure you know what I mean. You look around the room and you think, “Wow, these are smart people who really know their shit and they must be looking at me and wondering who the hell let me in the door.”
Apparently, this is a common thing. It’s called ‘imposter syndrome’. It refers to feeling like you don’t have the smarts or skills to belong; that you attained your position by mistake. (Hard to believe that I, the great and powerful Micah, could suffer such an illness!) I’ll be forever grateful to a peer of mine, Nico, who helped me name and face this years ago.
In a moment of candor and trust, Nico said “I’m just starting to feel comfortable in this role. It’s taken six months to realize that I’m pretty good at this. I’m as good as others on the team.” An ah-ha moment for me because I saw Nico as a rock star. “What? You feel like you’re not on par with the rest of the team? I assumed that I was the only one feeling like I didn’t belong.”
We became Imposter to Real Deal buddies. We helped each other overcome our insecurities. These three things continue to work well for me anytime those old feelings of inadequacy sneak up on me. I observe others more closely to see if I can spot false bravado, I call out bullshit when I see it, and I’m much more vocal with my opinions. Of course, as I get older, I am more comfortable with my insecurities and don’t beat myself up like I used to.
When I became CEO, it reared its ugly head again. I moved through it quickly though because it was clear that I knew my shit. I had learned so much by this time that I trusted my judgment. Besides, part of being the Real Deal means being able to say, “I don’t know”. Funny how that happens, right?