Challenges of High Achievers – Challenge #5: “I feel like an Imposter…”

The voices in our head can be loud. Very loud. As high achievers, the persistent feelings of not being good enough can be quite problematic – “Will I be found out?” “Am I really good enough?” “What if I ruin it?” “Who am I to do this?” “What if I am not up for this?” The constant denial of our accomplishments leaves us feeling like a fraud, most of the times, if not at all times. You can feel like you are hiding a “dirty little secret.”

As high achievers, the bar for entry can often be really low. Anybody can pull off as a one-time high achiever by compulsive and excessive work habits. But the bar for success is very high. And, as exceptional high achievers, we should use this to our advantage. Be a committed high achiever willing to clear that bar.

These days I am reading ‘The teaching of the Bhagavad Gita’ by Swami Dayananda. The book starts with the fundamental human problem – the problem of inadequacy and want. For high achievers this problem serves as a double-edged sword. We want to achieve more – more success, more relevance, more value, more service, more money, but at the same time we don’t want to acknowledge our underlying feelings of inadequacy.

I am a coach and I have a coach. In my personal coaching sessions, I am constantly grappled by these feelings of inadequacy and incompetency. I completely disregard my expertise and achievements, attributing them to luck or temporary effort. But I am unable to dig deeper into them.

Imposter Syndrome can keep us stuck. But, only if we choose to. The book further highlights that it is a great blessing to be born as a human being with unique faculties of discrimination and choice. How can we use this blessing?

Rich Litvin, a leadership coach and author, runs a community of leaders and coaches called 4PC. The way he chooses to define Imposter Syndrome is that it is a feature, not a bug. In his community, Imposter Syndrome is a goal, and if you don’t have Imposter Syndrome, you’re not playing big enough! He often refers to the Imposter Paradox, which means that your mission, as a high achiever, is to keep seeking out experiences and communities where you continue to feel like an imposter.

The Imposter Syndrome is really (or cosmically) designed to help us deliver our best and not having to hide from it. Build it into your daily actions and experiences, and make that choice to be messy, risk not having all the answers yet, and playing it out full.

How does The Imposter Syndrome show up in your life today?
… What do you choose to do about it now?

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