Dave Kerpen | Imposter Syndrome: The Good News and the Bad News
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Imposter Syndrome: The Good News and the Bad News

Imposter Syndrome: The Good News and the Bad News

My new book launches today. My first book hit the NY Times bestseller list, and between the five books I’ve written to date, I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have been translated into 14 languages. My newest book has been endorsed by some amazing entrepreneurs and authors: Barbara Corcoran, Jesse Cole , A.J. Jacobs , Dorie Clark , and Pat Flynn to name a few. In many respects, I’ve been massively successful as an author.

And yet, when people in my inner circle ask how I’m feeling, the reality is, my primary feelings are dread and self-doubt.

I have imposter syndrome. And it’s powerful.

I’m not sure exactly why I feel more anxious and scared than ever before, but I know I am certainly feeling it. I have realized that success doesn’t stop imposter syndrome. In fact, it can make it worse! I’ve talked to numerous entrepreneurs, authors, and leaders over the years, and the truth is that behind many people’s confident exteriors is often a similar sense of self-doubt to what I am currently experiencing.

The good news and bad news is that we all experience imposter syndrome. Why is this good news and bad news? Well, the bad news is it doesn’t every really go away, and as I mentioned, unfortunately, becoming successful doesn’t make it any easier. The good news is there are ways to deal with it.

This article details imposter syndrome and how to deal with it in great detail. In the meantime, here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Put it in context: I’m reminding myself that it doesn’t matter whether I hit a bestseller list or how many books I sell. What matters to me is if I can help people with my work. I know that I will sell some books, and I know, based on past experience, that my previous books have helped people. If I can help at least one person with this book, that is what really matters.
  2. Be reflective and self-aware: Self-awareness always helps! Yes. It sucks to be feeling self-doubt and dread at a time when most people would expect I would feel nothing but excitement, but I have found it helpful to be aware of my feelings and to share with my close friends and family (and, in this case, 100 thousand people on LinkedIn!)
  3. Breathing and relaxation techniques: I’ve never been a yoga or a meditation kind of guy, but when I am feeling panicked, the very best thing for me to do is to slow down, take deep breaths, and know that everything will absolutely be okay. I’m doing that as I write this 🙂
  4. Practice self-compassion, gratitude and kindness towards myself and others: My long-time therapist, Judy, told me years ago that I was good at so many things, but what I was best at of all was being a self-critic. We are too often our own worst enemy. When I’m feeling imposter syndrome, I try to practice compassion for myself. For me, it’s a leisurely walk or tennis. For you, it might be a warm bath or a cup of tea. Acts of kindness towards others and gratitude also help me get out of my own head by allowing me to see the greater context of whatever it is that I’m panicked about.

It’s ironic that my new book is called Get Over Yourself, because that’s probably what’s most important in dealing with imposter syndrome: Looking at what really matters.

For me, in the grand scheme of things, I care about leaving a mark on the world, and making it a better place, and I care about my family.

So, in moments of self-doubt or fear, I hope you can pinpoint what is really important to you. Focus on that, and all the rest will fall into place.

Dave Kerpen is the NY Times bestselling author of 5 books, a serial entrepreneur and investor, the co-founder and CEO of Apprentice, and most important, the husband to Carrie and father to 3 children. His latest book is out now: Get Over Yourself: How to Lead & Delegate Effectively for More Time, More Freedom & More Success.

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