4 Ways Top CEOs Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Last week, I let you in on the biggest secret (or most helpful insight???) in the entrepreneur biz.
EVERYONE HAS IMPOSTER SYNDROME.
But you’d never know.
Because the best founders and leaders have figured out how to:
And there’s more.
I’ve been behind-the-scenes with hundreds of talented, wildly successful entrepreneurs.
Here are the 4 patterns I’ve seen from the best of the best.
Yes, even the best have self-doubt and worry — but they leverage these 4 truths to unleash their greatness!
1. Lean Into Strengths
Most CEOs, founders or leaders can tell you what they’re good at (and what they’re not good at!).
It will sound like this:
- I may not be able to code but I know I can sell.
- I love big meetings and being on stage but I suck at the financials.
- I’m great at strategy and vision (but bad on details).
- I’m good at figuring stuff out.
They know that you don’t have to be great at everything. They are insecure about their weaknesses but leverage their strengths to the max:
- I’m going to sell the shit out of this product so that I have enough revenue to hire a finance person who can help me.
- I’m going to listen to my customers and act on their feedback better than anyone else.
- I am great at prepping. I am nervous but well prepared.
EXPLORE: What are your strengths and how are you going to lean into them to build a big ass business??
2. Work On Weaknesses
Behind every great leader is…
- Executive coaching
- Peer accountability groups
- Professional development courses
- Tons of reading and learning
That polished stage presence?
It may be a result of a $10k exec training and 100 hours of practice.
Many skills including things like “confidence” and “sales skills” can be cultivated and learned.
EXPLORE: How are you systematically improving? Are you using support and accountability to accelerate the process? Here’s more ideas, resources, and founder stories.
3. Build Your Confidence Data Set
Think about your first pitch. Now think about your 50th pitch. Way better, right?
You have an important data point:
I used to suck but I practiced and now I’m much better. That means I can work on other things and get better too.
Every repetition builds on itself:
I am little more confident than last time because I’ve done this before. Because I’m more confident, I will do a little better and learn more new things that make me even better for next time.
What else have you done that you didn’t think you could?
What have you worked at?
What is easy now that took tons of effort at first?
- Learning to read
- Driving a car
- Living on your own
- Trying again after the first time didn’t work
- +100000 other things!
Even if you’re early in your career, you have plenty of examples.
Whenever you feel insecure, use your life resume as a confidence boost!
EXPLORE: What is a hard thing that you’ve done? What seemed impossible when you started but you got better over time? Make a list for reference! Ask a friend or loved one if you need perspective.
4. Ambition Means Insecurity
It’s the cooler, more positive side of the Peter Principle.
Someone who is ambitious will always feel a little out of their league.
Because they’re pushing out of their comfort zone to grow.
The best people never want to be the smartest in the room.
It’s a recipe for personal stagnation.
But the inevitable result of intentionally not being the smartest?
You always feel not-quite-as-smart.
Self-inflicted insecurity in the pursuit of improvement and greatness!
If I want to feel fast, I can race a slow person.
If I want to be fast, I run with people faster than me and get my ass kicked daily.
And — of course — with the most hilarious life irony — the faster I get, the more I understand how slow I am!
When I am at top speed, running all out as hard as I can, it’s still 2 minutes per mile (aka 50%) slower than the fastest marathoner in the world. Yes, the best runners can run for 26.2 miles at a 4:30 minute per mile pace and my 30 second sprint might hit 6 minutes.
The better you get…the more you understand how far you have to go!
Running is an easy analogy but of course this applies to company building, technical knowledge, sales, parenting, investing, EVERYTHING!
You don’t feel insecure because you’re not good. You feel “insecure” because you want to continually improve and be challenged!
EXPLORE: How have you challenged yourself recently? What “room” did you enter knowing it would be hard but a great growth opportunity?
What are the most important insights you’ve learned about doubt, confidence, and success? What are great leaders doing that we can all learn from? Do you agree that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know?