When you make it safe for someone to open up about what holds them back, more often than not they admit in some way to feeling like an imposter. In our coaching of CEOs and in our Mutual Empowerment Online forums, we hear these stories leaders are telling themselves about how they are not good enough. Incredibly accomplished people still feeling there is something wrong with them. Here are 3 ways to transform this imposter feeling into powerful new awareness.
|1. The Character Study|
The word imposter means one who assumes a false identity. Feeling like an imposter is a precious opportunity to make the identity you have been assuming more obvious. For example, my imposter is brazen in his desire to impress while ashamed of his hidden doubt. We hear of imposters who hide their abilities, or hide from commitments, to avoid risk of failure. Others who believe they should be doing better than they are. Others in some way claiming to be doing better than they actually are.
The great gift in making our assumed identities more obvious is that we see through all the characters we play, no longer lost in the role. We begin, so to speak, to identify as the author. For the author, this imposter, and any other roles and identities I may assume, are my characters. The raw material through which I express my deeper purpose.
2. Share Your Experiences
I am lucky enough to have 3 regular peer groups and several trusted friends with whom I can share whatever versions of false identity I may assume from time to time. I have seen over and over again people shed limits that had shackled them for years, just by speaking candidly about their self doubt (or aggrandizement), and being deeply received. And hearing others do likewise.
3. Extreme Empathy
You may have noticed that I have here never once suggested evicting your imposter and replacing him or her with a better self image. Doing that risks getting fooled again. Fooled that a better false identity is more real. The more powerful awareness to live from is that none of these identities are fully who I am. I am the presence in which they all arise and which they all embody.
Then we are free to help others. We know how to make it safe for someone to open up because we know what we needed for ourselves. We know that we are no different. Whenever I take on a new client, I expect to be triggered in some way. Some version of their imposter will activate some part of mine. Great news! Now I can connect. Now I can help.
The same is true for leaders who seek to build an intimately empowering and creative team. Whenever you hire someone new, you can expect that the identities they assume—their imposter—will in some way activate yours. In this awareness, you use your imposter to connect with theirs. You know what he feels like, you instinctively predict his moves and you can invite everyone in the team to go to empathy instead of correction.
We would love to hear your experiences of how the imposter feeling has lead to increased awareness and empathy for you.