Are You an Imposter?
“Most people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”– Napoleon Hill
If you are like most people, when you try a new activity and even after a while when you are doing it, you may be saying to yourself more than once, “I will never get good at this. I am just kidding myself.” This feeling is called the “Imposter Syndrome.” More people feel they are an imposter than you think.
Do you feel like an imposter when you are speaking before an audience? Who are you to think of yourself as a speaker having something to say to which people can benefit?
You should think you have something to contribute because you do. You are a unique human being put here to create significant value for humankind.
Anyone who has ever accomplished anything in their life has felt like an imposter somewhere along the way, present company included.
We see the popular actress winning an Academy Award, the eminent doctor who discovers a cure for a disease, or an extraordinary musician at the height of their popularity. What we don’t see are the years of frustration, the battles with his or her own personal “Imposter Syndrome,” and the harsh critics.
Everything is hard before it gets easier. President Coolidge told us many years ago, persistence trumps talent every time. In his words, persistence is omnipotent.
Below are three famous failures who probably felt like imposters early in their lives, didn’t give up, and reaped the benefits of their persistence.
E = mc2
He didn’t speak until he was four years old. He failed his entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school located in Zurich at sixteen. And, even his father, up until the time of his death, considered his son to be a major failure. After eventually graduating from college, he worked as an insurance salesman but quit after some time because he failed at that as well.
When you think of some of the most intelligent people who have ever lived, do you deny Albert Einstein’s name comes to mind? The creator of the General Theory of Relativity and the Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein, revolutionized our understanding of space, time, gravity, and the universe.
Einstein’s extraordinary contribution to humanity is a lesson of someone who probably at times viewed himself as an imposter. However, his persistence at what he was doing was the difference between a person who lived an ordinary life and the life that produced extraordinary and revolutionary theories.
You will always have critics when you speak. Listen to what they have to say. Take their advice on some things and discard the rest.
History is replete with examples of people selling others short. This next person is a great example.
“Can’t Act. Slightly Bald. Dances a Little.”
His career in the entertainment industry lasted for seventy-six years. Grace Kelly once said, when speaking about him that, “the history of dance on film begins with him.” However, it didn’t quite start so famously for him. According to legend, he was rejected during an early Hollywood screen test when the producer stated, “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Dances a little.”
No one can deny the tremendous effect on dancing and the musical movie left by Fred Astaire. When he was young, he had his trials, being accepted as a dancer. However, he had faith he could make it big as a dancer. No one can deny he achieved this. Fred Astaire’s name is synonymous with the finest in dancing on the silver screen.
There are some improvisational dancers, and then there was Fred Astaire. He was known as a technical dancer. He planned out every movement of his body on the dance floor. Astaire’s attention to detail is legendary. Astaire made dancing seem so effortless as he floated across the dance floor. No one sees the many hours before the performance spent choreographing every step, every movement of his body, every facial expression. His example of hard work is a lesson for all of us.
Do you “choreograph” every movement of your presentations with your body movement, facial expressions, and tone of your voice before you even get on stage to speak.
You will find a gradual mindset change from imposter to an expert if you do.
Albert Einstein and Fred Astaire had a bumpy road on their way to technical preeminence and dancing excellence on the silver screen.
The last example of an “imposter” became one of the industrial giants of the industrial revolution.
He Wouldn’t Give Up
His first company went bankrupt. His second company also went south when, after a dispute with partners, he was forced to walk away with only the rights to his name. However, he did not give up. He is credited with making the automobile available to the masses. He is one of the most famous industrialists to have ever lived. He helped bring transportation to the masses in America and subsequently throughout the world. In the process, he earned a fortune.
Henry Ford’s life was hardly charmed. His mother died when he was thirteen years old. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1996, which went bankrupt. A few years later, he founded the Henry Ford Company, which also went bankrupt.
Undeterred by his misfortune, he founded the Ford Motor Company, the same company we know today. His persistence had finally won the day.
Do you think there were many times Henry Ford asked himself why he was trying to establish a company selling something called an “automobile? Do you think he thought he is an “imposter?” I don’t know for sure, but it would be a bet I would be willing to cover.
Earl Nightingale said, “You become what you think about most of the time.” Do you think about yourself as an imposter, or do you think about yourself as the successful speaker you aspire to be?
As President Coolidge said, “Persistence is omnipotent.” And it is persistence that will lead you out of the “Imposter Syndrome” to great heights you cannot even now imagine?
Would you say, Albert Einstein, Fred Astaire, and Henry Ford are “imposters?” Certainly not!
Neither are you!
Call to Action
Use focus and persistence like Albert Einstein in all your future presentations. Never give up, never stop improving, never stop reaching for your dreams
Purse your dreams like Fred Astaire. There is no more sinking feeling than giving up on yourself. Don’t!
Like Henry Ford, in your next presentation, take what is essential to you improving your presentations from your critics and disregard the rest.
“When everything seems to be going against you remember that an airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”– Henry Ford
Introducing a new book from Frank DiBartolomeo!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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