The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
About 10 years ago, Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were filming a movie together. And after the last day of shooting, both actors went to a restaurant and sat at the bar.
Hackman told Hoffman, “Let’s get drunk.”
They started tossing them back. And after the second bourbon Hackman looked Hoffman straight in the eye and said, “Do you get the same feeling I get at the end of a film?”
Hoffman asked, “What’s that?”
To which Hackman replied, “As if you’re never going to work again. Not that you’re never going to do another good piece of work. It’s that you’re never going to be hired again.
“That’s my constant fear. That I’m not good enough to keep getting hired.”
Here’s a man who’s won multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globes over a decades-long career.
And he still feels like a fraud. Like he’s not good enough. And very soon the world will find out that he’s a subpar actor.
Can You Relate?
Do you sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud? Are you sometimes surprised that clients pay you to do your work?
Do you feel unworthy compared to many of your colleagues? Like you will be found out soon enough … and all your success so far is undeserved?
You’re not alone. Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Jimmy Fallon and many other people many of us consider incredibly talented — they often feel the same way.
I talked about this back in episode 22: Seven Tips for Developing Stronger Self-Confidence
But what I’d like to do in this episode is give you a taste for how common this “impostor syndrome” is. Because part of overcoming it is awareness.
Awareness about how many talented professionals struggle with self confidence and self worth.
I feel so much better when I realize that I’m not alone. And if the best people in their field often feel this way, then that gives me hope. It helps me realize that it’s perfectly natural.
Partial List of Celebrities Who Struggle With Self-Confidence
Mariah Carey: “I understand that people think I am a ditzy moron. I’ve always had really low self-esteem, and I still do.”
David Bowie: Looking back on his successful career, Bowie recently confessed to a reporter that while filling auditoriums with fans in the early 1970s, “I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing. I really felt so utterly inadequate.”
Demi Moore: “What scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me…and that I wasn’t wanted here in the first place.”
Meryl Streep: “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing. You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing. You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’”
The late Maya Angelou: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”
Will Smith: “I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”
Rhianna: The singer may seem overly confident, but she gets so nervous before events she needs professional help and even hired a coach recently to help her with this struggle.
Source for most of the above quotes:
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, by Dr. Valerie Young.
And from the following article: http://highability.org/435/gifted-and-talented-but-with-insecurity-and-low-self-esteem
Historical Figures Who Started Life With Low Self Esteem
Theodore Roosevelt: Was born to a wealthy New York family, but he was a sickly child. He had severe asthma that was debilitating to him. In addition, he was nervous and timid.
Albert Einstein: Was considered a slow learner and may have had dyslexia. He was shy and quiet.
I also know plenty of CEOs, incredibly successful entrepreneurs and high-achieving individuals who suffer from either low self-esteem and/or the impostor syndrome.
You’d never know it on the outside. But inside they’re incredibly insecure on the inside.
What Can You Do About It
I’m not an expert on this stuff. But I struggle with these issues much more than you’d think. Which is why I felt compelled to talk about this today.
- Realize that you’re not alone. Some of the most talented and highest-performing people in every profession struggle with imposter syndrome.
- Do it anyway. Keep moving forward, in spite of your fears and insecurities. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Find out how others see you. Reach out to five to seven people who know you well and send them the following request via email:
I’m working through a personal development exercise, and one of my assignments is to get feedback on the following question from a handful of people who know me well:
What do you see as my unique capability? In other words, what do I naturally do better than most other people you know?
Not looking for a ton of detail here. Just a few sentences. I need it by next ________, if possible. [give them 3 – 5 days]
Thanks in advance!
Try to choose people from different roles in your life. And it helps if at least half of them know you professionally.
Your spouse or significant other can count, but I’d rather you go outside of your immediate family.
Pay attention to their responses. Look for commonalities in the answers. And keep a printed copy of all responses in a file.
Refer to that file when you’re feeling low self-confidence or are struggling with self-worth.