It’s a slippery (and too familiar) slope.
These feelings can be reduced to one common denominator…FEAR.
Theories abound as to why we are an increasingly more fearful people. One theory points to the increase in the connectedness of the world through technology, juxtaposed with the decrease in quality, connected relationships. Even our youngest citizens are in the loop as most children (56%) have their own smartphones by age ten. Fifty percent of children even have their own social media accounts by twelve years old. However, among tweens and teens, there is a decline in relationship building interactions and activities. They’d rather text or have virtual interactions than get together and socialize in person.
One basic psychological need of humans is to be accepted and to belong. This need is not met due to the illusion of connectedness at play in this phenomenon. This is how we can have hundreds of "friends" and "likes" on social media yet still feel lonely and completely unknown.
Another perspective points to the precarious state of our world. Terrorism, political unrest, health scares linked to food industries, etc. There is no shortage of issues to plague our conscious mind and create the perfect petri dish for anxiety cultures to germinate.
It’s all just too much!
Then…go and add the entrepreneur thing to the mix…talk about isolation, uncertainty, confusion…ultimately, ANXIETY!
“But wait…I thought you were doing exactly what you want to be doing, right?”
The short answer is, “Uh---YES!”
The thing is, that doesn’t exclude me, the entrepreneur in question, from the same fears that plague EVERY one! Unfortunately, we (and I do mean ALL OF US) tend to stuff (suppress) and hide (mask) our fears in a “closet” with all the other junk we don’t want to deal with. We pretend we don’t feel it. We try to make light of it. There is even a day here in the United States dedicated to celebrating fear. HINT: It’s at the end of this month. LOL.
Many craft public personas to veil their fears. Then they begin to suffer from Imposter Syndrome, which is based upon the fear of being found out that one is not the masked persona presented.
Now, this approach is SO anti-me. I was kind of born authentic...along with my brown hair and vivacious personality. I was the one who told the truth (mostly) even when I knew there would be sucky (yes, that’s a word) consequences. Not that I was/am a Saint. I’ve just been blessed with a strong sense of what is genuine. I can sniff it out. My gut knows the truth. (My kids hate that.)
But as I was researching this syndrome, I was reminded of a season in my life when I was not so sure of my truth. When I gave birth to our first child, I became a SAHM, stay-at-home-mom. I had so many romantic ideas of what that meant...
My home would always be in order. Dinner would be ready at 6 PM daily and would be well received. Everyone would get along perfectly. Right?
I couldn't understand why things were not going as I perfectly imagined. I pursued this nonsensical ideal relentlessly. I didn't have the benefit of generations of mothers before me coaching me on this stay at home thing. My mother and grandmother both thought it was a novel idea but had little advice to offer. Other family members questioned my capacity and wondered aloud what I was doing with "all those degrees" and changing diapers. I was in relatively uncharted waters, it felt. I tried on a few different ways of being. And, for a while, I was a bit lost at sea.
Eventually, I hit my shore. And since then I have worked diligently to shape who I am on the outside to align with my authentic self, my truth. So, that whole imposter thing…I can’t get with. However, I know the struggle is real for many!
In order to go out there and SLAY, I must go full armor attack on the F-word. (That's Fear, y'all) And so do you…entrepreneur or not!
So, here are some ways to take out the enemy of fear…and overcome Imposter Syndrome in the process.
BE AS REAL AS YOU CAN.
I put the qualifier “as you can” for those in-process but to those who know the deal, just BE REAL. Post on social media sans curation once in a while. Go out without the full diva on ev’rytime. Be honest with how you are feeling when you are feeling it, without trying to suppress or mask. And be a part-time superhero only; give yourself space to be human and be revived.
My "real" included regular self-talk to affirm me. It took some time...but eventually, I began to really believe my value as a SAHM. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of your worth!
Build a set of “go to” people for encouragement, feedback, and insight. Your support community is vital to your personal and business growth. You should be able to be completely honest with your peeps. Choose people who share your values and who understand your business “why.” They should be people that you respect but who are also not afraid of challenging you and holding you accountable. Also, be sure that you have different “go to” folks for different things. No one person can be all things for you.
That’s just way too much pressure for one relationship. It could become myopic and unhealthy. So, spread the love!
For me, I joined a mother's group for support. And in true super-mom fashion (I was not yet cured of the hero thing), I helped to found other support groups for moms in each of the five boroughs of New York City and in Westchester County. These women were AMAZING! They were my community!
CULTIVATE TRUST, THEN ACT
I will admit. This is the hardest. But it’s a MUST.
You must nurture trust in yourself. Quiet the noise all around with deep breaths or some basic yoga, write in a journal or take a contemplative walk. Push past the commotion of the day to rehearse what you know to be the truth about your life and your business. Remind yourself of why you’re even doing what you’re doing.
And if you're not sure of your "why" or even your "what" be still until you are...
Then DO something that scares you. As a matter of fact, do something that scares you AT LEAST once daily. Make a cold call. Sign up for a 10K run and train for it. Commit to incorporating a new idea in your business that intrigues you.
I know…it may sound wonky.
But here’s the thing…if we don’t learn how to create our own quiet in this world filled with a cacophony of distractions, and then follow up with wise action plans, we will continue to be bound by fears. And we will never accomplish the things we know we are meant to achieve in this lifetime.
Me? My quiet time has been EARLY in the morning almost every day for over twenty years. I use it to recharge and reset. I'm better able to take on the world afterward. My action plan, with "scary" to-dos, includes what you're reading right now! (Thank you for reading, by the way!)
Gordon Tredgold puts it this way, “We can never outperform the limits set by our fears.”
So, what do you say?
Don't let fear win! Let the SLAYING begin!
Until next time…
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Name one thing you can do TODAY (ok, maybe tomorrow, if it's late) that scares you just a little. Come back and tell me how you felt after you did it!