Have you ever been told by someone that they admire you, or are inspired by you, or wish they could do what you’re doing?
And then you didn’t know what to say back?
Are you supposed to smile and say “thanks!”? Are you supposed to be polite and say “awww, no, YOU’RE the one who’s inspiring!”. Are you supposed to be humble and say “nah, I’m just little ol’ me, nothing extraordinary here”.
You’ve probably said all those things, or a variation of them, at some point. Because when someone says something to you that’s totally inconsistent with how you feel about yourself, it creates confusion.
You don’t know if you’ve just got the world fooled, if your friend hasn’t really been paying attention, or if they’re just patronizing you or fishing for compliments themselves.
Unless your friend is a piece of shit, it’s definitely not the last two. And, surprise, it’s not the first one, either. You don’t have anyone fooled, my friend.
The problem is that what they’ve said doesn’t align with how you see yourself. When you’re starting out on a new adventure, perhaps doing a complete career 180, or moving somewhere far away, there’s that little voice in your head that’s telling you the same thing…
You’re a fraud.
You’re an imposter. Sooner or later, these people are going to figure you out.
And you freeze. You don’t want to accept the compliment because you don’t think you deserve it. But you don’t want to be rude and brush off the compliment either (trust me, you think that’s being humble, but it’s really just insulting…you’re basically rejecting your friend).
An article recently published in NPR highlighted one of my FAVORITE actors, Tom Hanks, and the fact that he struggles still to this day, after decades of stardom, with the thought that he’s a fake, and he’s simply got the world fooled.
He says self-doubt is “a high wire act we all walk…”. You can say that again, Mr. Hanx.
So if a two-time Academy Award-winning mega actor still deals with self-doubt? I think it’s safe to say us small-time entrepreneurs might as well get cozy with it…it’s here to stay.
Consider it a disability. One that you have to adapt to and live around.
Do you know why you’re such an inspiration to these people who say you are? Do you think it’s because you’re wildly successful and rich and perfect and an expert at what you do? Do you think it’s because they see you as a high class hero, and they can only ever dream of being like you someday?
Of course not. Calm down. Maybe the reason you feel like such a fraud, is in fact because your expectations for yourself are way too high.
You inspire them because you are JUST LIKE THEM, and they know it. They KNOW that you are a small-timer. They KNOW you don’t know what the hell you’re doing half the time. They KNOW you’re a small fish in a big pond.
And they KNOW that you’re still in the game, regardless of all odds being against you. It’s the fact that you put yourself out on the frontline, work hard to fill in the knowledge gaps, find ways to overcome all your disadvantages, and not take the easy road out by settling for a meaningless job for the sake of a paycheck. All that takes work. And for most, it’s easier to just stay put, and stick with what’s comfortable. And it’s the fact that you didn’t that’s inspiring to your peers.
They’re not inspired by you, the fraud. Because, don’t flatter yourself…you’re not that great of an actor. No one is silly enough to think you’re a big dog just yet.
They’re inspired by you, the person. The real you. The one that’s just like them.
The one that still struggles with the same stuff they do (bills, health, kids, pets, what-have-you), and yet still does the things that YOU do. That’s the person they admire.
So get out of your own way and let them, will ya?
Because if you’re waiting for the day you become Tom Hanks to finally stop doubting yourself? You’re going to be waiting a long long time.
You aren’t the type who lives for “someday”. You’re the type who lives for right now.
So be true to yourself, and be confident in where you stand RIGHT NOW.
It’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.