AskPat 121 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 121 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, if you have a question that you'd potentially like featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page.
Now, let's get to today's question. Let's just jump right into it. Today's question, from Daniela:
Daniela Uslan: Hi Pat. My name is Daniela Uslan, and I am currently doing a project talking to entrepreneurs about how they grow their networks at 101Conversations.com. My question for you is: As you become much more famous and successful and so many people know who you are and look up to you, do you ever experience imposter syndrome where you feel like, “I'm a fake, this isn't me that's so successful and who everyone looks up to?” And if you do feel that imposter syndrome, I'm wondering how you deal with it. I just wanted to let you know that you're a huge role model for me and I love your podcast, both of them, and I just really look up to you and think of you as a very genuine person and a role model. So thank you so much. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Daniela, thank you so much for this question, and I really appreciate it because I'm going to be honest with everybody out there. These feelings of being an impostor have crept up in my life before, not just as a business person, but at the home, and even when I was working in my job in architecture. It's just a part of everyday life. I mean, not really everyday life, but it is a part of life to feel like you are an imposter at times.
Let me go into more about what this imposter syndrome is. It's also known as fraud syndrome, or the imposter phenomenon, where even though there are accomplishments and there's external evidence of our competence we just, for some reason, are our own worst enemy. We think that we might not deserve that stuff. All that proof of success is, you know—sometimes we think it's luck, or maybe just the right timing. Maybe we even think that we're deceiving others, or others are more intelligent than we are, even though we might be more successful, and that we might just be putting ourselves down. To be honest, it's a very unhealthy way of thinking about our success, because if you're doing things for the right reason, and you are achieving success, you should be very happy and proud of yourself. I mean, this is sort of the opposite of being proud, is this imposter phenomenon, and it's definitely something we have to be aware of at first, but also know how to handle.
I think, first and foremost—and actually you might hear this in different ways. You might hear yourself say, “You know, I don't deserve this.” You've probably heard other people say that before. You might have heard people say “I don't think I'm really qualified to teach this,” or “I'm unworthy.” Or they might even think—or you might even think to yourself that you might, at times, be an actual fraud. Even though you're putting in all the hard work, and there are actual people out there who are thanking you for the work that you do, these feelings creep in on us.
I think there are a number of different ways we can go about tackling this problem, because if you are doing great things, the last thing you want to do is stop yourself from doing more great things. So here's a few things that you could do.
Learn to take praise, I think is first and foremost. Understand that when people go out of their way to thank you, even the small thank you in an email or something like that, or something which I love to do is to go to my UPS box and actually . . . Every time I go to my UPS box, I grab a handful of hand-written thank you notes, and that right there just tells me that I know that people out there appreciate what I do. There's no way that I could not deserve what I do or get, because I'm actually making change in people's lives. I've always told people this before: Your number one goal in your online business should be to serve others, to serve your audience and the more you can do that, the more reward will come your way. So I figure that the more rewards that's coming my way means that I'm actually making more change in this world. That's my sort of way of thinking, and that's how I get out of imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome happened a lot in the beginning, because I got laid off from my architecture position. All of a sudden, within a year and a half I have this business that's making over six figures. I doubted myself all the time. I mean, we are always our own worst enemy and you have to just expect that to happen. I think first and foremost the support that comes from other people, whether it's people in your audience, people in your mastermind groups, or people, just anybody, your family, friends, those people who support you—be around those people because that will show you that you are doing things for the right reason and that you are not a fraud, that you do deserve the success that you have. You should be proud of all the work that you put in and the success that comes as a result of that. Not thinking that you don't deserve it. You definitely deserve it. If you are making change in this world, you deserve every penny that you make.
I think another great strategy for overcoming imposter syndrome is to keep a list, or keep track, of all the accomplishments that you've made. So this isn't necessarily praise from other people, but it's stuff that you know that you've done to help others, and to grow your online business, and to serve. Because keeping a running tally of all these things, it's actual documentation that you can take to yourself when you are starting to have doubts of whether or not you deserve all this success because you can see all the hard work that you've done, and it's right there on paper. I think a lot of times we forget how much work we actually put into things, and when we start to see the rewards come our way, how awesome it may be, we also forget how much work we put into it sometimes. Sometimes it's years of work until it finally pays off, and then when it finally does, we forget all about that work we put into it, but of course if you . . . It sort of takes the emotion out of it. A lot of emotions happen when you make your first dollar, when you start to become successful online, but writing all that stuff down definitely keeps things tangible and it takes the emotion out of it so you can just actually see how much you've done. I hope you have a running tally of that. Me, personally, I have physical folders of the things I do within each project. I can see, I can grab in my hand the folders of stuff that I've done in the past, and that shows me that I know I put in the work to help others. And so that, combined with all the praise that I get, really helps me push through that imposter syndrome. I haven't felt imposter syndrome for a very long time, but I remember that feeling. It's a very scary feeling; it makes you not want to work anymore. It makes you question everything you've done. It makes you . . . You know, it doesn't make you confident as a content writer or publisher. There's a lot of things that go along with that.
Now the last thing I would say is really, if you are struggling with this, focus on problem solving, again, for your audience. Change the way you think about failure. I think it's a really big thing, because when you make a mistake, we also think that we are failing and that we might not deserve all the success that might come our way. I mean, we might be successful, but fail and then start to question, “Wow, maybe it was a flash in the pan the first time around,” or in other words, just a one-hit-wonder I guess you could say. Just understand that failure is a part of the process, and that as long as you can keep moving forward to problem solve for your audience and their problems and their issues and focus on that, then you're eventually going to get through all those failures and understand that those are going to come your way and eventually reach your goal of helping those people and hopefully getting a return of some kind. It doesn't necessarily have to be monetary.
Again, I think that's another big thing, is when money starts to come our way, it starts to become a very interesting thing emotionally for us, and that's when we start to . . . A lot of times, it's even deeper than just, we feel like a fraud. It's just a lot of feelings are based on how we are grown up with money. We might not feel that we deserve it, or it's just weird to have that much money because we didn't grow up with that much money, or that much success, or that much fame, or that much recognition, but you have to know that's a good sign. If you're getting recognized, whether through people sharing your information, by praising you, and/or making money as a result of the work that you do, that's good! That's great! That's fantastic! People are trusting you with providing value for them in exchange for money or time or effort, and there's nothing better than that.
Again, just keep in mind why you do what you do, focus on your audience and solving their problems, keep a list of all the accomplishments that you've made and also just learn to take praise. You deserve every single thank you that comes your way because those are people who have learned something from you, who had a problem but now you've helped them figure it out, or you've at least helped and inspired them. A lot of people need that. A lot of people are going to discover that you're the place to get that information, or that inspiration, and rewards are going to come your way as a result.
So Daniela, I hope that answers your question. Very interesting question, one that I haven't really discussed ever in the past, but it is something that I've experienced myself, and I hope this helps you if you are indeed going through it yourself or anybody out there who is going through imposter syndrome. It's a very natural thing that happens in the course of an online business, and the growth of the business that you create and I hope that you can break through it. Again, just remember why you are being thanked, why you are making money. It's because you're providing value. Don't forget that.
Thank you again for the question. An AskPat t-shirt is going to be headed your way. Again, if any of you out there have a question you'd like potentially featured here in the show, just head on over to AskPat.com.
Finally, if you want to get started with your online business if you haven't already, or you might need some help, just go to AskPat.com/start. That will redirect you to a page on my main site at SmartPassiveIncome.com. It will go through all the definitions and some of the beginner podcast episodes you might need to discover what the best option is for you. Again, head on over to AskPat.com/start for that.
Thanks again so much and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.