The vast majority of founders suffer or have suffered from impostor syndrome.
The vast majority of us never want to suffer from it again. Living in doubt, thinking your success is a fraud, and being haunted by the paranoia that sooner or later you will be found out is horrible.
And that’s definitely no way to build your existential unicorn. Even if you do build it, you won't enjoy it because guilt, doubt, and the worry that everything is a fraud will suffocate you.
What a nightmarish prison.
The good thing is, I discovered a cure.
The wonderful thing is that you find it on the inside, not on the outside.
The extraordinary thing is that it's much simpler than I could have ever imagined.
Understanding it, that is. Applying it is always more challenging.
But every good transformation starts with hacking yourself, changing your inner dialogue, and writing a new narrative.
The first step to cure yourself of impostor syndrome is to understand why you have it.
If you want a scientific and psychological interpretation of the phenomenon, there is more than enough information and research available to you. Today, I'm going to explore both the cause and the cure from an existential perspective.
You suffer from impostor syndrome because you’ve decided to believe five main delusions:
That you know everything.
That you can do it alone.
That you are perfect.
That you are always right.
That nothing can stop you.
The fascinating thing is that these delusions don't exist because you truly believe that's how you are.
Because you know it's not true.
These delusions exist because you truly believe that's what the world expects from you.
That’s very different.
Expectation versus reality.
The mother of the five delusions is a great external expectation. A massive collective deception.
Even though you know it's not true, external expectation wins and rules your reality.
Because it's easier to deal with a massive, collective deception without questioning it, even if it hurts you, than to be an outcast who swims against the current and changes the narrative.
These 5five delusions take control of your life because you allow them to become five roles that you conveniently assume, both personally and professionally:
The "Expert" role: You know everything.
The "Individualist" role: You can do it alone.
The "Perfectionist" role: You are perfect.
The "Genius" role: You are always right.
The "Superhuman" role: Nothing can stop you.
And thus you live, pretending to be an expert, an individualist, a perfectionist, a genius, and a superhuman.
Because you believe that's what you should do.
Because you believe that's what is expected of you.
Because everyone else is doing it the same way.
Because pretending to be is the accepted and normalized game.
So, how do you cure it?
The cure for impostor syndrome is to accept that you are an impostor.
As the poet Rumi said, "The antidote is in the venom."
It's that simple.
Accept that you are an impostor who believed that the only way to operate in the world was according to the rules established by the massive collective deception.
If you accept that you are an impostor, because that's what everyone and everything expects you to be, the curtain falls. When the curtain falls, there is nothing left but reality. When you accept reality, the delusions automatically disappear, and you set yourself free.
The reality is that:
You are not an expert because nobody has absolute knowledge.
You can't do it alone because nobody can do it alone.
You are not perfect because you make mistakes all the time.
You are not a genius because you are not always right.
You are not superhuman because you are simply human.
The new part is not recognizing this reality — you already knew this reality.
The new part is manifesting this reality — deciding to live it.
Because before, you were pretending.
Start today to relate to yourself and to the world from the reality of your vulnerable imperfection, and you'll feel how much lighter you become. You'll free yourself from social and professional pressure, from having to pretend to be perfect, and from your insecurities.
Don't live your life responding to other people's delusions and expectations. Don't be a victim of what you assume people expect from your role, title, position, university diploma, or any other metric.
Just live your life responding to your reality and nothing more.
Just be a human being, and that's it:
It's okay to say, "I don't know."
It's okay to say, "I can't."
It's okay to say, "I made a mistake."
It's okay to say, "I don't have the answer."
It's okay to say, "This far."
This is how distrust ends.
This is how the fraud ends.
This is how the paranoia ends.
This is how the impostor ends.
Because there is nothing more left to discover once you've already discovered yourself.
Now, as it's easier said than done, I'm going to give you three strategies to make sure you never feel impostor syndrome again:
1. Lighten Up
You are not as important as you think.
Remember this: Nobody will remember you in 100 years.
Yes, you are unique, but, all in all, you are normal and ordinary.
Ironically, accepting this reality is empowering and liberating, not depressing. You are not the star in anyone else's show. You are not that important. None of your possessions are that important. Nothing that happens to you is that important.
Nothing has killed human evolution more than asking, "What will they say?"
That's the language of the massive collective deception and of the impostor. You are reborn on the day you stop taking yourself so seriously. When you finally free yourself from what others say, think, or expect of you, you truly dare to live. Accepting your insignificant mortality gives you the strength to try to build a meaningful existential legacy.
Carve your own path.
Fail a lot.
Do what scares you.
Dare to be the star of your own show and enjoy it.
Don't take yourself too seriously.
That is one of the worst things you can do as a founder. Being a founder is already miserable enough — your drama and delusions of grandeur will only make the journey harder.
It's better to train yourself to laugh at yourself, your startup, your mistakes, stumbles, ideas, products, services, and obstacles. Instead of going for self-flagellation, self-punishment, self-blame, and self-crucifixion every time you mess up, train yourself to take it lightly, to not take anything personally, and to always find something to laugh about.
Humor is not an escape from reality; it's armor.
You'll fare better if you commit to the lightness of laughter rather than to the tragedy of self-pressure.
The real tragedy comes the day you stop failing because that's the day you stop growing, learning, and evolving.
Laugh at yourself, laugh at others, and let others laugh at you.
Your imperfection should be your greatest cause not for ridicule, but for celebration.
3. Be Your Own Guru
Accept that the ladder is indeed infinite, and you will always feel like something is missing until you decide to stop consuming and start manifesting.
Stop asking life for forgiveness and permission to shine from your perfect imperfection.
Follow your own path.
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