Thoughtful Thursday: Impostor Syndrome

Are you a woman?  If you are, I have a question for you: Are you afraid of success?

I recently found a business development podcast that, quite frankly, I have fallen in love with.  I have listened to many podcasts that have some relationship to my business development interests.  This one by far has been the most interesting and valuable — hands down.

The podcast is called Biz Chix, and is hosted by Natalie Eckdahl.  She supports women in their business development efforts, focusing on those making five figures and up.  Along with the podcast, Natalie offers coaching, mastermind groups, and just recently, a live event — her first ever!  The podcast and her Facebook community are both available to any woman who has or is seeking to have her own business.

In podcast episode 289, Natalie provided behind-the-scenes details of her recent live event, Biz Chix Live.  In this episode, she confessed that she wanted to cancel the whole event just two weeks out!

I SO connected with Natalie in that moment.  This admission was amazingly vulnerable.  (Hello!  I'm vulnerable as all get out with this blog!)  She didn’t have to share that she was scared to death to put on her biggest event to date, but she did so as a means to share that it's common and may likely affect other women.

In addition to connecting to her vulnerability, I resonated with the desire to bail before a big event.  Just last year, I chaired my daughter‘s elementary school's 10th anniversary celebration.  Originally, I was to chair a different event, but pivoted to this one only three months before the event.  It was a big deal.  I had NEVER planned anything this big before.  My wedding wasn't even this big.  It was a ton of work.  The phrase "a ton of work" is an understatement.  I worked my fingers to the bone.  Not only did I have a short time to pull it all off, I was working full-time and enrolled in a rigorous life coaching program.

Regardless of all my work, I, too, thought about ways to cancel.  I so wanted a way out.  I wished for something to come up that would prevent it from happening.  I invested so much of ME into the event and yet I still didn't want it to happen.  Why?  Because I was scared.  I was afraid of it being a massive failure.  Who am I kidding?  I was afraid of it being a minor failure.  I was afraid of people realizing I wasn't up for the task.  And even if it was successful, it wouldn't have been due to my efforts, but the many others that came together to help.  I never told anyone about my fear.  I kept it to myself and pressed on.

In the end, my event was a success.  And it sounds like Natalie's was as well.

Episode 289 was the first time I realized I wasn't alone!  Someone as accomplished as Natalie wanted to cancel too!  She put a name to the fear as well: impostor syndrome.  I'd never heard that term before.  I Googled it and came across this NYT article.  I feel the article does a great job of explaining impostor syndrome.  It affects all kinds of high-achieving people, even Maya Angelou, especially when we're testing our limits...pushing ourselves to do something outside our comfort zones.

If someone were to have asked me if I was afraid of being successful, I would have said, "Hell, no!" and thought they were hot crazy to even ask.  Who wouldn't want to be successful after so much work?!  But, if they were to have asked me if I would feel worthy of the that might have resulted in the same answer.

I need to give this some more thought.  I may follow up again about it if I have some a-ha's before the year is over.  Until then, I want to know if you've ever done something outside your comfort zone and wanted to quit?  Do you feel it was because of impostor syndrome?  I'd love to hear how you dealt with it.

Be open to what comes.

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