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The Impostor Within

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

We have all felt it at one time or another. You know, that feeling that you are not the right person for the job. Yes, you know your profession well. After all, you have been doing it for quite some time with much success. But, with that recent promotion, the spotlight is now on you and your feelings of inadequacy begin to emerge. Paralyzed with doubt, you struggle to proceed.

Here’s the thing. You’re right. You are an impostor. While scary for the moment, it is actually a good problem to have. It means that you are now in a position that is outside of your comfort zone. It allows you to measure the time and effort it will take you to shed your impostor inclination and gain the confidence necessary to excel at your new position. It means, you are about to grow.

Thoughts of Incompetence

This was most evident to me when my work ethic transitioned me into the middle class. Sure, I had the educational letters behind my name, but it was still all new to me. As a decision maker, people treated me differently. They looked to me for answers to critical questions. More importantly, they believed the answers I gave them. I did not have the generational professional support network that I could turn to at home for advice. I had a decision to make – either fold under pressure or continue to work hard to sustain, and eventually improve, my skill sets. Over time, I learned to separate my own thoughts of incompetence from the realistic expectations of those that put me in the position. I realized that a humble, “I will look into it and get back to you tomorrow” followed up by excellent customer service, went further than having an immediate answer. I discovered that building a strong network of like-minded professionals increased my knowledge with a simple text or email to the right person.

American Ingenuity

I now know that pursuing life, liberty, and happiness isn’t for the faint of heart. That advances to society, brought about by American ingenuity, is deeply rooted in the work ethic of those uneasy with remaining idle in their trade or profession. These middling sorts seek to advance their profession, skill, or trade by sharing their ideas and knowledge to lay the groundwork for the betterment of those that will eventually take their place. Their efforts at social fluidity ensures that, as an individual grows in their trade or profession, they will once again become an impostor when they enter into their next professional pursuit.

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