176. Imposter Syndrome

Posted by Erin Aquin on Sep 15, 2021 12:16:18 PM

If you ever feel in over your head or worried someone might find out you are winging it at work, then you already know what it's like to be struck by imposter syndrome.

This week Steve Haase is giving us his insights and experience to help you:

  • learn how to spot imposter syndrome before it derails you at work
  • do the work to overcome it
  • discover why imposter syndrome isn't always a bad thing and what it might be teaching you

Download his free 5-part course, Breaking Free From Imposter Syndrome, HERE.

Read the full show transcript here.

Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts here

Episode Transcript


Welcome to the love and success podcast. You are listening to Episode 176 Imposter Syndrome. Hello there lovers, my name is Erin Aquin. And today I have one of my favorite guests back on the show. We know him, we love him. It's Steve Haase. And he's here today to talk with us specifically about imposter syndrome. Hi, Steve.


Hello, Erin. Hi, everybody. I am delighted to be here today talking about imposter syndrome.


Because it's such a fun topic.


It's always a joy.


All right, and the reason that I wanted to talk with you about this today is because I know you have been doing a lot of work in the leadership space. And it's something that's actually been coming up a lot for my clients who (I mostly work with entrepreneurs) I think that there are some similarities between leaders in various companies and entrepreneurs in that a lot of times, depending on where it is you work, and how your industry is structured, it's really easy to feel like you don't know what the fuck you're doing. To put it eloquently.


That's so true. Oftentimes, we're given responsibility because of the potential that we have, or because of the vision that we have to create something, right? If you start a company or like, "Hey, I have this vision," suddenly, the responsibility for that company is on your shoulders. Maybe it's just you, maybe you're starting to have a team, maybe it's the people that you're serving. But regardless of how you get that responsibility, there's always a question, can I handle this? Am I the right person, who the heck put me here, I don't know what I'm doing.


You know, just to even share personally, I had this come up in the last year, many times. Because when I started my company, I was like, I just want to be a life coach, I just want to coach some people. And now suddenly, we have two people on our team who work with us who, you know, we're technically I guess, their clients.

But there's a lot of personal management. And I don't know how to do any of that. So that this year has been quite a journey, call it a journey. But I know that I'm not alone. And I know that for a lot of my clients who are creating something new and maybe bringing on people or stepping into various hats, this does come up.

So I was really excited to talk with you about it, because you've been creating some resources for your own people on imposter syndrome. And I want you to tell me why you think so many people suffer with this silently.


So there's the suffering part. And then there's the silent part, the suffering is because of what I mentioned, you have this responsibility and it's uncertain. Like no one gave you the instructions, you kind of go through school, you go through your whole life, and you're like, "Okay, well just give me the instruction book, you know, what are the rules?"

So you follow the rules, you do the thing, you succeed, and then you think that's how life works. And then when you get a leadership position, you realize, "Oh, my God, there are no rules. It's just me." And so then the suffering part is, what am I supposed to do? And there's actually a path for figuring out what you're supposed to do. It doesn't remove the uncertainty, but it gives you some touch points, and it gives you some places to look so that the uncertainty isn't daunting, it can actually be exciting, right?

Uncertainty also means potential, it means what you can create. So that's part of how you alleviate the suffering part. And then the silent part is removing the stigma around not knowing what the heck you're doing. Being forthright about what you do know and what you don't know being honest with yourself about how you're feeling, right, there's often a feeling of shame. Like, Oh, I think I screwed something up. And I wasn't supposed to. So I'll just put on a brave face. And you know, pretend nothing's wrong.

So you don't actually talk about it. So you don't actually learn about it. You don't become more vulnerable and more human, to the people around you and especially to yourself, right, you're just kind of hiding it, stuffing it down because you think you're the only one who, you know, feels like they're in over their head. That's not true.


Yeah, I mean, I think culturally to you don't hear a lot of great speeches where someone's like, well, I don't know who the fuck we're doing. And I don't know how to do this job. It's like every every leader is supposed To come across as confident, they're supposed to reassure us, they're supposed to like, tell us how they're going to get the team through this one, you know, whether you're working for a company, or you're in an entrepreneur situation or an entrepreneurial situation, you're supposed to be the one who knows. So you've got to give us some of these touch points, I hope you will teach us some secrets today.


Conveying confidence is one of the things a leader does. Right, because you point to a destination, you get people excited about that destination, that's what it means to lead. And so finding your own voice, and your own way of doing that is, is fundamental to, to the skill of leadership.

So let's talk about how you actually do that. The first place you begin, when you are suffering, with the experience of self doubt, confusion, you know, the things that imposter syndrome feels like is you discover your vision, you get really clear on why you're doing the thing that you're doing. You could be doing a million things right now.

But instead, you are working on the task that you're working on, you're building the grand thing that you are responsible for that vision, getting clear on it, putting it in front of your eyes, looking at it, repeating it getting inspired by it is what will have you centered, when things feel chaotic, uncertain. And like they can go in 1000 directions. And somehow people are all looking at you to figure out what direction that is, your vision is what you can keep returning to.


I love that because I think that a lot of people will try to project some kind of false confidence. And that's where the imposter syndrome comes from. It's like, I'm telling everybody that I know how we're going to do this. And I know it's going to be great, but I actually have no idea.

But when you understand what your vision is, you can have competence in that you can have confidence in the place that you're going to even if you don't understand exactly how to get there. And then you don't have to think of yourself as an imposter. Because you really are connected to that vision. And this is some work that I'll just share a little bit you did with me recently. I've always felt like I knew the vision of what I wanted to do, but it was very hard to articulate.

And when it came down to making decisions for our business, it's something that I would always struggle with, you know, because it was so vague in some ways. And kind of the brilliance of what I watched you do after I kind of unpacked our last session where you helped me get very clear on my vision is I don't have to know how it's all going to come together. I don't have to know how it's all going to work. But I do now have this standard. I do now have this very clear. I don't know what to call it.


A Guiding Light.


Yeah, it's a guiding light, but it's like a dartboard. Like, I can see the bull's eye, I can see what is a bull's eye. And I can see what's like in those outer circles where it's like, you'll get some points. But it's not totally aligned. So I love that the vision is that center bullseye.

So the vision that you helped us come to and formulate, and that really hits home for me, is helping people realize the life, the universe is dreaming for them. And you know, that may seem super vague to other people. But for me, I know exactly what that means.

And when we're talking about vision, it should be something that's maybe a little aspirational. This is different. I think a lot of people get confused, and I definitely used to be confused about this. Your vision is not necessarily the method for how you do what you do in the world. You know, the method in which I can help people realize the dream the universe has dreamt for them or, and really step into that new possibility is through coaching. It's through helping entrepreneurs have more love and success. But that vision is really for me.

It's for me to know when I'm throwing the Dart if we're aiming. And it's also really beautiful because sometimes the vehicle changes. This can be just as true if when I was coaching on mostly relationships and not talking about business at all, this could have been just as true. But it's more true now that I'm creating classes on communication and helping people have love and success. It's my compass point, it's my North Star.


And so the job of a leader is to give their team the people that they are seeking to influence right, your job as a leader is to help people track towards the north star, right? If you want to influence the folks that you're either paying or that you just simply want to have influence with. The way you do that is you give them a clear Northstar usage, this is where we're going and why. And if you don't have that for yourself, you will never be able to do that with other people.

And so the feeling of being an imposter is very apparent, if you're like, I don't know where we're going. The first job of a leader is to know where you're going. And so if you don't, or if you think you do, but people aren't following you, then what you need to do is you need to get very clear on that, starting with yourself.

Why are you showing up for the job in the first place? Why did you step up to that responsibility that will give you a sense of your own personal vision? And then when it comes to your team, your business, the actual enterprise that you're leading? How will you know that you've had the impact that you want to have in the world, right, this is a very high level thing. But it gives you an orientation towards the work that you're doing and the influence that you want to have with your people and in the world.

And so in those moments, when you say, I'm an imposter, I don't know how to lead a one on one, I don't know how to present our quarterly meeting, I don't know how to deliver, you know, negative performance reviews, any of these things that might be tripping you up.

As a leader, you can come back to that vision. What are you here to create in your work? With your life with your energy, right? What is the life that the universe is dreaming for you? How does that connect with your work?


And knowing that also puts context around why it's so important to figure out the other things? Because if you remember, if you remember from earlier this year, yeah, I didn't want to do any of those things. I don't want to do one on ones, I didn't want to do quarterly meetings, I did not want to do negative performance reviews. But now that the vision is clear, now it makes sense why I might want to do those things, why we might want to be more on the ball with our metrics, and all of these beautiful systems and structures that you're very familiar with, and that you've really been guiding me to over the last year.

It's really handy to like, live and be married to coach everybody just I know not everyone can be. But it's been really helpful to our company, to have somebody who understands how to do these things and can guide you through it. And I know that's a lot of the work that you're doing with your clients right now. But I just can't stress enough that this is the stuff that I think most entrepreneurs overlook. And they think it's really boring. It's like paper pushing stuff.

But your vision comes alive inside of the way you've structured your business inside the way that you work with your team inside the culture that you're trying to create with people. Your vision. It's, I mean, it's interesting, we're talking about this and around imposter syndrome. But if you're not actually living your vision and you're not set up in your work, through your vision, you are an imposter. It's actually true.

Maybe it's not a problem for you to feel that way. Maybe this is all exactly what you need to be experiencing. And you need to realize like hey, you know what, I've been saying one thing and ascribing to some ideal, but then like not actually following through with any of the things that need to happen to make that a reality. Can imposter syndrome be helpful?


It can. I think I fell on the other side of the spectrum when I was in a leadership role and in my software jobs in the corporate world and I really felt like I had this stuff figured out.

"Okay. I'm a great leader, who wouldn't want to follow me? Of course, I'm in this role, man, this team is just fantastic. I'm fantastic. Everything's fantastic. Isn't this wonderful?"

And then when my boss started hearing some rumblings from my team, he's like, "Hey, I think things are not okay. In your world."

I was like, "What are you talking about? How could things not be okay in my world? You must be on some other planet." And then he started showing me some of the things he was reading. I was like, "Oh, no. Where'd all that come from?" And so in reflecting on it, I think, a little dose of imposter syndrome. You know, as humility and "Hey, there could be things happening that I'm not fully aware of, maybe I don't have all the skills that I need."

And it's not as though I wasn't learning and interested. But fundamentally, I felt like, "Hey, this is going to be fine. What can go wrong?" Had me actually walking on thin ice without even knowing it. And things kind of blew up in my face. I lost the team.

And it was a very challenging part of my leadership journey that I learned a lot from, and I gathered a lot of inspiration from, but reflecting on it, like, I didn't really relate when people were saying, "Oh, yeah, I suffer from imposter syndrome."

I'm like, "Sucks to be you, man. I'm feeling great." And then I got, you know, I got let go from my team. I'm like, "Hmm, maybe a little bit more cautiousness and reflection on what am I missing?" would have been really helpful.


Yeah. And I mean, I don't think it's necessarily like, We're not saying like, "Hey, everybody should just like check yourself, because you probably fucking up." That's not definitely not what we're saying. But it's interesting, I think we do, we go to such great lengths to avoid negative thoughts and negative emotions and just like squish those down, and some people like when you have imposter syndrome, it's usually you're diving right into a depth that is not helpful.

But another way of dealing with that stuff is just not seeing it. Like what you experienced was like, you are the one living on the other planet. You are the one on a rocket ship in a beautiful paradise. Like your team was having some rumblings. But there's something actually really helpful that our brain is offering us at every moment.

So I always love to be with my clients and look at absolutes. So when I hear them talking about things, like always, it's always great. I'm doing one or everything is perfect. Everything is great. I'm always like, "Oh, is that really true?"

Or nothing's working. Nothing's ever good enough. I don't know. I never know what I'm doing, "never" and "always", I look for those because it's a way that our brains choose to try to be efficient and simplify a bigger situation. And it doesn't often leave room for the nuance.

So I'd say for people who maybe are having some imposter syndrome in any area of their work, whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're a leader in some other space, maybe take some time to actually listen to the things your brains offer you. Like, why don't you go check the validity of some of it? Maybe you've never led a team before. And that's actually the truth.

Now, what do you need, so that you can increase your confidence? What do you need to know that you don't understand right now? The problem I think we've been talking about with imposter syndrome is because most company cultures want us to be so confident. And we have to look like we know what we're doing. It's often hard to share when you don't.

This is why I think having a coach is so important. Having mentors, making sure that whatever organization you work for, whether it's yours or someone else's, has some method of training you which, you know, I would say that was something I noticed in some of the places that you have worked in, they did not have, like really specific ways of training leaders. It was like, hey, you're amazing at your job. Here's a team. That it's a totally different job. You're not even going to do the thing you were good at anymore. But I like to try to motivate them to get better at what they do. And that to me is so backwards.


Yeah, usually don't get a handbook when you take over a team, or when you're growing your team. So you have to seek out the resources. That's why being coached, being trained, all the stuff, it's helpful. There's the training, and then there's the reflection on implementing that training.

Right, because no plan survives contact with the enemy. And so it's like you actually improve to get your thing. It's like, "Oh my god, what just happened?" So then getting that feedback and being able to reflect on it and improve from there is really important.

And just one other thought that I think is really fundamental to overcoming imposter syndrome is the fact that we mentioned this early on. But there are things in your new role position that you have not done yet that you might not be good at, you might be terrified of, and that's okay. But your future self, this person who has implemented the vision that you have today, the person who has succeeded wildly, in this position, has figured those things out.

They've totally done it. They've outsourced their weaknesses, they've overcome their fears, right, they've gone through the challenge of really implementing what it is that you're looking to do right now. So the more time you can spend in gratitude for all the resources that you have, and for the work that your future self has already put in, like really connecting to your own inevitable success, whatever the hell that might look like, like, you are in this for a reason. And believing in that reason, and connecting with where that's going to go is a big part of it.

In my own experience. Right now, one of my many big challenges is working on a piano concerto. And, right now, I am totally not a concert pianist, I have so many flaws, so many weaknesses. But my future self has performed this concerto with an orchestra in front of people. That person has gone through some shit to be able to stand up on stage and play this 45 minute monster of a work by memory. And right now I'm on that path. And so as I think about that future, I'm like, I'm not that person. I'm a total imposter. Who am I to say I'm a concert pianist.

Like, you know what, I've also done it like in the future, this is a done deal. And so just being aware that the learning is a mess, the "Ooh, this sounds so bad." "Oh, that was so uncomfortable," is how you get from here to there, right. So just because it's a mess right now, or because you feel intimidated by it does not mean that it's not also a perfect part of your path towards that glorious future that you have in mind.


Yeah, and while you're working on it, it's helpful to have somewhere to work out all the emotions and ups and downs because another piece is like using your piano concerto. You go to a coach, you have someone who you wind on the phone to the first thing I hear you, you're just like, "Help I don't know what I'm doing. I don't even know how to read music anymore. Help me." And then by the end, you always feel so much better. Like you come upstairs after your lesson.

And you're just like, she just helped me work it all out. Like it's just this one note at a time. It's one bar at a time. And that's exactly how to overcome imposter syndrome as well. Like you just become the person who can do the thing. Right now you don't know what you're doing. It doesn't make you an imposter. As long as you're working on it.

That's something I love to think about. Like, yeah, maybe I'm, you know, my company hasn't hit the milestone that would say, I don't know, that would be like super meaningful to me, as a former yoga teacher, like I've had years where I've made $12,000 for the entire year, and at some point in the future, I'm gonna have a million dollar coaching business. I haven't created that yet. Does it make me an imposter? No, because I'm working on it, figuring it out. Learning the things I don't know how to do, bringing in the team.

I like to always kind of be a little contrarian about these types of things. We think imposter syndrome is so bad, so harmful. And it totally can be for all of the reasons that we've talked about. But also it could just be a reminder that you're not quite where you want to be yet. And your brains offer you a nice clear list of all the things you want to get better at. You want to learn, you want to do one finger, just give me the list of prompts for sort of problems to solve. 


I mean, another way to think about it is that as long as you're still feeling that sense of imposter syndrome, you are pushing your edge. Right? That means there's a gap between where you currently are and the vision that you have for your impact in the world.


Yeah, nothing wrong with feeling it. As long as you're doing something about it. You're not letting it stop, you are not second guessing Every single thing you do, and staying frozen in place. 


And if you think about the crazy entrepreneurs who say, "Hey, we're going to outer space," who the heck are you to say, I'll help you get to outer space? You know, like, "Hey, we're gonna launch a rocket and bring it back. And it's only gonna cost 10 million instead of 10 billion." That's insane. You're a total fraud for saying that and yet, right, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, these are some of the crazy people who are living into that gap between what they say they want to do and where they actually are.

And the more comfortable you get with the discomfort of that gap, that you have stepped into that responsibility, you've put on your own shoulders and announced to the world, that's your power, that's your growth.


Yeah. And on the way to that, you're gonna blow your own mind so many times. So on its own imposter syndrome, not great, doesn't feel good. But if you step back and think about what this could be alerting you to what this could be calling you towards, if you kind of need some recalibration towards your own bullseye. It's really the perfect time to work with a coach. And I think just I mean, obviously, Steve, I love you wouldn't be married to you without that.

But I think even just coming off of the time I've spent with you in the coaching context, to clarify my vision and start to learn some of these important SEO skills to further that discovery. I just can't stress enough how important it is for everyone who maybe is feeling imposter syndrome to have their own coach someone where they can don't they don't have to come off as confident they can actually just tell you all of their messy, messy thoughts, and you'll not only coach them, but you'll actually teach them some very valuable tools.

So if someone needs that right now, how can they get in touch with you?


You can head over to my website, it's at hyper growth coach.ca. And you can line up a time to talk. We also have a free course breaking free from imposter syndrome. You can sign up for that there, get some goodies, a five day course goes into more depth on what we were talking about today. But yeah, I have room for two new one on one clients. And if that's you, I'd love to talk.


Amazing and I'll make sure that makes it into the show notes today. Thank you so much. I think this is a really helpful topic. And for anyone who's had this going on. This is the universe reminding you to get it dealt with because there's probably some really good stuff on the other side of imposter syndrome for you, too.


Thank you. Thanks, everyone. 


Thanks for coming today, Steve. If you are enjoying the new love and success podcast, now is the time to get on the waitlist to join my fall group coaching program where I'm going to walk you through all of my favorite love and success tools and help you create not only the business of your dreams, but the life of your dreams.

This is a gift I believe every entrepreneur really deserves and I hope that you will join me in the next class. You can sign up for the waitlist at revitalize your relationship.com/formula and I will see you in the group.

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