In a highly competitive society like ours, it is easy to get discouraged and feel you are not good enough. I even experience this at times! Often, we can be our own worst enemy: we know the change we want to make in the world, but we talk ourselves out of it. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In this podcast (episode #222) and blog, I speak with Seth Godin, best-selling author, marketing guru and thought leader, about dealing with the pain of criticism, why we should avoid reassurance, overcoming imposter syndrome, why attitudes are skills to be learned, and more!
We all have two voices in our head: a voice that is afraid and tends talks us out of things, and a voice who wants us to go forward and pursue our dreams—too often, the fearful voice wins. However, when we care enough to trust ourselves to go forward, even when it doesn’t work out as planned, we can start tapping into our creativity and pursuing our dreams with courage and determination. We don’t have to be controlled by our fears; we can live the life we want to live.
If we let our fear control us, however, we tend to feel like frauds, even when we do well. This is known as imposter syndrome—we are worried that people will discover that we don’t belong or are faking it. But the thing to remember is that we are all imposters on some level—any time we are doing something new, how can we possibly be sure it will work? Fighting imposter syndrome makes it worse; rather, see it as a signal that you are doing the hard work, taking risks and being creative.
The truth is that there is always going to be someone better than you, so just show up with what you have and work from that. Make the decision to commit and bring your best—this is the foundation for any kind of success. This daily practice harnesses your creativity and imagination, so when you do fall, you can get back up and keep moving forward.
Yes, this can be uncertain, but success of any kind requires risk. An artist shows others their work, despite the risk of someone not liking it—a true artist has the courage to face the world. If you are not willing to take this risk and put yourself out there, it is just a hobby, not your life’s work.
Unfortunately, social media has distorted our perception of being seen and putting ourselves out there, but it is often a way we hide. The highly-curated lives, the selective use of authenticity and the masks we wear to please others are just a few examples of how we use social media to avoid the risk of people not liking us or what we do.
As Seth points out in his new book, The Practice, we need to be willing to do something that may not work, but may make things better. If things don’t work out, make it better. Keep doing the work. Don’t be thrown by negative feedback; learn from it. Don’t rely on people’s approval or define your worth or abilities based on what other people think. This is what it means to be professional.
But, remember that:
- All criticism is not the same. Know the difference between valuable advice and negative criticism, which often reflects the person more than your work. Is the person giving advice good at it? Is it worth listening to?
- Criticism can also be helpful when it shows us that we should change the audience, not what we do. If something doesn’t work, don’t immediately give up. Ask yourself: did I do this for the right people or at the right time?
As Seth says, don’t just wait for reassurance, or you will be waiting for a very long time. If you need people to say everything is going to be okay all the time, then you are avoiding reality. Everything is not always going to be okay, and even if someone you trust says everything will be okay, it will wear off over time. It is better to accept that not everything will be okay and do it anyway. What would be worth doing even if you fail?
This is what it means to be a leader. We have to understand that leadership and management are not the same thing. Management is the cornerstone of industrialism: getting people to do what they are supposed to do. It is about compliance and compulsion, and has an important role to play in our society. Leadership, on the other hand, is voluntary. It has no coercion power. It is the will to explore and be creative and go somewhere new—it means having the courage to step out and do something that has never been done before.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that prizes conformity over creativity. As a result, many people feel stifled—they have not found their voice, making it hard for them to do their best work and just show up. We have over-industrialized our society. We don’t need more soldiers; we need more people to say, “follow me”. We need more people to take the risk and step outside the box.
But remember, you are not entitled to success, which is why you must understand your genre. What “shelf” does your work belong on? Don’t be so peculiar or unique that you lose sight of your audience. Genre is about selecting your audience—find work you can rhyme with. What does your work remind people of? How is it familiar? Do your research and know your field. Don’t just show up and expect that people should hear what you have to say.
This drive is as much as attitude as it is a defined skill set. You are born with talents, which are often overrated. Skills are something you learn; you show up, you learn and you do the work. And attitudes are a type of skill; you can learn to be more diligent, honest and determined. This is a choice; attitudes don’t just happen – they take time, but with practice they can become a habit!
For more on attitudes, work and thinking outside the box, listen to my podcast with Seth (episode #222), and check out his website and new book. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing! And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media (don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
For more self-care tips to pursue your dreams and find success in life, pre-order my new book 101 Ways to be Less Stressed, which is now on sale at 20% off!
You can also check out my app SWITCH, which is a great tool for helping you learn how to manage your mind, deal with the roots of your mental distress, and overcome thought patterns and behaviors that hold you back through the mental process of reconceptualization.
To learn more about creativity, success and mental health, register for my Virtual Mental Health Summit this December 3-6! For more see drleafconference.com. CME and CEU credits are available for PAs, NPs, RNs, MDs, DOs, and other medical professionals, and certificates of attendance will be given for physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers!
3:50 How to get out of your own way and stop letting fear dominate your thinking
5:42 How imposter syndrome can hold you back and affect your wellbeing
11:00 How helping others helps you
12:47 How to harness your creativity to get “unstuck”
17:41 How not to be afraid of criticism
27:44 Creativity as an act of leadership
30:17 How to find your voice and show up with your best work
39:16 The myth of having one passion
42:55 Why attitudes are skills
47:58 Why reassurance can be dangerous
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