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Imposter syndrome is a feature not a bug

Have you ever been fired? 

I was fired for the first time ever in 2005. 

I should have seen it coming… My own boss was fired two weeks earlier. My colleague was fired the night before. And I’d made it pretty clear I didn’t like the consultant who had just been made the new boss!

But it was still a shock.

I was still devastated. 

I felt humiliated. And humbled. And embarrassed. And angry. 

With some sense of shame, I decided to get away from England for a while.

I had been doing a lot of yoga and meditation at that time in my life and I searched online for a yoga course, somewhere exotic.

[Pro tip: don’t wait until times are hard to take up yoga and meditation. Start them before you need them].

I found a course in Thailand, which sounded amazing. But it was a yoga teacher training and I couldn’t imagine ever being good enough to be a yoga teacher. 

I wrote to ask for the teacher’s guidance. And her reply changed my life…

“Rich, some people want a yoga teacher who can cross their ankles behind the back of their neck. And some people want a yoga teacher who is just a little down the road to them…”

I signed up for the course and flew to Thailand a week later. 

I lived there for a month and became a qualified yoga teacher. 

Turns out that I’m a better storyteller than a yoga teacher! But I never forgot that lesson. 

I say it in my own words, these days:

Stop trying to get rid of imposter syndrome. Get good at it, instead.

You see, here’s the thing… 

Imposter syndrome is a feature not a bug

I designed 4PC – my community of leaders and coaches – so that we’d each have a sense of Imposter Syndrome. Including me. 

I don’t try to hide it or “fix” it. I built it into the program.

The entrance requirement to 4PC is: you should be a little in awe of us and we should be a little in awe of you. 

And my secret intention is that the caliber of members is so high, that if I was nominated for membership, I’d struggle to get in!

The Imposter Paradox: If you don’t have Imposter Syndrome, you’re probably not dreaming big enough… 

When I asked a recent cohort of 4PC members to describe their experience with Imposter Syndrome, here’s what a few of them said:

  • “My first 4PC gathering, I wondered WTF was I doing there? I could hide and make sure nobody found out but I decided to play full out, to be messy, to risk not having all the answers yet. It was super edgy and it made me right at home in the group. I still regularly feel like an imposter and I know I belong. It’s one of the best paradoxes to live into.”
  • “My emotions when we get together are always all over the place. Feeling like an imposter is the only consistent feeling—and it has become somewhat comforting at this point.”
  • “I have moments where I’m sure everyone can see that I’m not as powerful or accomplished as everyone else. And then I get grounded and giggle at my ego doing the comparison thing. And remember that I am love and power—and being with you all reminds me of all that I am.”

Imposter Syndrome is not something to hide from. It’s your secret clue that you’re headed in the right direction. It’s a sign that you’ve found your big mission, or your perfect community.

Love. Rich

 

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