One Powerful Question Can Slay Imposter Syndrome For Good

Redheaded woman obscuring her face with a silver mask, alluding to the idea of imposter syndrome

If you’ve ever tried to do anything big, bold or different, you’re no stranger to imposter syndrome. It can feel like you don’t belong at the table, especially if the others sitting there are people you admire.

It can sound like a voice in the aspiring entrepreneur’s ear saying, You need more experience before anyone will take you seriously.

For creators, it often appears as the refrain, That idea you’re so in love with? It’s not unique at all.

For as long as humans have had big dreams, high achievers from Tom Hanks to Maya Angelou have been giving voice to the feeling that, at any minute, they’ll be discovered as a fraud. The imposter phenomenon has been analyzed and argued over since its introduction in 1978, but one thing remains clear: it impedes progress.

Whether it raises questions of self-worth, inspires perfectionism or makes you anxious about failing, imposter syndrome is likely keeping you from being your most badass self.

As a 25-year devotee to the world of self-help, I’ve seen my fair share of proposed antidotes for this problem. But in Ash Ambirge’s book The Middle Finger Project: Trash Your Imposter Syndrome and Live the Unf*ckwithable Life You Deserve, I found the only one you will ever need.

Ambirge writes:

“Business is an offer to help. And you don’t have to be accomplished in order to be ready to help. You just have to be willing to contribute and solve problems in creative ways.”

Silence Your Inner Mean Girl

So what does this mean for you, the one hesitating on the edge of the arena, questioning whether you’re good enough to do the thing? It means all you must do is come up with a good answer to “How can you help?”

Share the benefit you provide enthusiastically and with genuine intent. Focus on how your product or service provides aid and support or how it betters lives.

When you show up motivated to make someone’s life easier, happier, more lucrative or more fun, there’s nothing into which your inner mean girl can sink her fangs. Put another way, when you make it your business to be the most useful person in the room, you earn your place at the table.

Not Sure if Your Art / Passion Project / Big Idea is an Offer to Help?

Sadly, we live in a society that prioritizes disciplines like science, technology and engineering over arts and humanities. Two-thirds of public school teachers say that arts are getting crowded out of the school day.

No wonder I meet so many creators who question whether their outputs are really worth anything. If you spend your day shooting gorgeous food photos, the worst thing you can do is compare yourself to a brain surgeon in a conversation about contribution.

But here’s an important reframe: You don’t have to help someone do their taxes to be considered helpful. Sometimes people want beauty. Sometimes they want hope. Sometimes they want to be transported. If you brighten someone’s day or make them feel a little less alone, I’d argue that’s just as beneficial as healing their physical pains.

Consider also how making beautiful things will transform you into a happier, more satisfied person rather than a bitter, creatively stifled person. When you interact with people as the most fulfilled version of yourself, you create a permission-giving ripple effect that can’t help but make the world a better one.

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