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February 1st: Beat Imposter Syndrome

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Last call to beat Imposter Syndrome
Someone taps you on your shoulder, and as you turn around they look you in the eye and tell you, “Look, I know you’re out of your depth on this. Everyone else knows what they’re doing, so you should probably go.”

Your stomach plunges, your heart races and your head spins. You’ve been called out.

Imposter syndrome doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful, purposeful or purposeless. It doesn’t care what star sign you are, it could care less if you try hard, and it doesn’t give a shit what you stand for.

It affects too many of us, me included, making us feel small and like we’re on the outside of a club we’ll never be a member.

So join me on Thursday February 1st and I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about Imposter Syndrome, and give you a heap of ways to productively deal with it.

This isn’t just about me talking at you for an hour; I’ll want to field questions and make this as useful and relevant as possible.

Register free right here, and let’s do something about imposter syndrome.

(And by “do something”, what I really mean is “slap it round the chops and give it a damn good talking to”.)

How to Beat Imposter Syndrome – Live Webinar

How to Beat Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome.

We’ve all experienced it.

It’s the stomach-plunging fear that you’ll be revealed as a fraud and seen as not good enough.

Imposter syndrome forces you to please others, to pursue perfection and to prove yourself at every step to avoid being rejected. And you beat yourself up for all of it.

I’ve been digging into it—what it is, where it comes from and how it works—and think I have the measure of it.

Join me for a webinar on February 1st, and I’ll share with you what I’ve learned. I’ll shine a light on the impact imposter syndrome has on your life and give you 5 strategies for getting out from underneath it.

You’re not broken. You’re not less than other people. You’re not an imposter.

Sign up for the webinar now and let’s beat imposter syndrome.

How to Be Unfuckwithable

How to Be Unfuckwithable
The world is a crazy place, and right in the middle of it all if you, trying to make a decent go of things.

Then life starts fucking with you. Messing up your plans. Letting you down. Throwing a drink in your face.

Not just life, but people too. Yeah, actual humans who come along with their own ideas and plans and who aren’t backwards in telling you how to do things or where you’re going wrong.

It’s not fair.

So when life starts fucking with you, wouldn’t it be cool to be a little bit more…unfuckwithable?

A bit more resilient. A bit less fragile. A whole lot more confident. Because then, you could do more of what you want rather than feeling like you’re dealing with obstacle after obstacle.

Well, is this your lucky day, because here are five ways you can be more unfuckwithable, starting right now.

1. Get Real With Yourself

You can’t be unfuckwithable while you’re fucking yourself over. So first of all you have to get real with yourself.

The things you’re pushing away need to be faced. The things you’re denying need to be accepted. The things you don’t want to think about need to be welcomed in.

This is not easy, not by a long stretch. It takes courage and it takes time. But squaring up to how you’ve been doing yourself a disservice is essential, otherwise there’s a whole universe of things that will keep fucking with you.

It starts with a little honesty. Some real, bare, honesty that shines a light on the things that you’ve trying to keep in the dark. These don’t need to be big, life-changing secrets, like being with the wrong person, denying your sexuality or not facing grief. They can be smaller, more subtle things like a fear of intimacy, shame about being an introvert or not facing up to an issue in your family.

You have to get real with yourself, no matter what you do with what you find. Call it tough love, but it is love. A radical act of love towards yourself to own who you are and where you are.

2. Tell Better Stories

The stories you tell yourself will fuck with you longer and deeper than anyone else ever will.

When you tell yourself the story that “other people are better at this than me“, you’ll feel on the back foot and not good enough. When you tell yourself the story that you need to “fit in“, you’re prioritising the safety of not be singled out over bringing everything you’ve got to the moment you’re in. And when you tell yourself the story that “I can’t screw up or fail“, you’ll never risk much of anything and never gain much of anything.

Your stories shape your experience. When you start telling yourself better stories, you get a better experience.

Your brain constructs stories that fit its MO of minimise risk, maximise reward. Anything that keeps you safe, stops you from being rejected or keeps you from risking failure is all the reward it needs. So those are the stories it tells you.

But there are different stories. Better stories. Like the one about how you’ll be okay, no matter what happens. Or the one where you’re greater than the sum of your parts and can learn and grow in ways that meaningful to you. Or the one where you’re already worthy of love and belonging.

A huge part of being unfuckwithable is seeing the stories you tell yourself that fuck you over, then finding new stories that serve you better.

3. Park the Drama

Drama is for the Kardashian-loving, opinion-spewing, self-important fools of the world.

Drama is mired in detail. He said, she said. Who did what. Who didn’t do what. Who likes who. Who hates who. The real problem is. What should have happened is. I can’t believe they did that. And then what happened is. And then. And then. And then. And then. And then.

When you’re in the drama, all you can see is the endless, rolling, tumultuous detail and how unfair it all is. It puts you in a place where the whole world is fucking around and not listening to you. It’s puts you in a place where you’re endlessly fucked with.

Drama keeps you busy while your view of what really matters gets clouded. And it’s the stuff that matters to you—whether it’s love, creativity, contribution, laughter, connection or whatever else—that makes life rich with texture and possibility.

Being unfuckwithable means elevating yourself above the stuff that keeps fucking with you. Go to where the meaning is, not the trivial. Go to where the potential is, not the problems. Go to where the vision is, not the vultures.

4. Engage, don’t struggle

How many times in your life have you struggled against where you found yourself? A relationship that didn’t feel right or took an unwanted swerve. A job that bored you or kept you feeling stuck. Or a life that seems to be a string of “almosts” and struggles to come into focus.

It sure seems like life is a struggle for a lot of people, but I wonder about that. I wonder about the idea of struggle as a noble or necessary thing. The idea that you’re like a beleaguered soldier, trying to do what’s right and battling against all the stuff out there that’s against you .

It sets up conflict right from the start. You against the world, in a forceful effort to get free of constraint or resist attack. It’s a conflict that’s not just exhausting, but fucks with how you see yourself and how you see your place in the world.

So don’t struggle, engage. When you find yourself in a situation or circumstance that you’d rather not be in, own it. Welcome it. Love it.

Because it’s only when you love the hell you’re in that you get to make choices based on the best of you rather than your worst.

It’s only when you drop the weighty and frustrating “Why me…?” and start the weightless and freeing “Now then…” that you get to make good choices based on the fact that you’re already whole and worthy of love and belonging.

So fuck struggling. Engage.

5. Take a stand

Taking a stand is that thing you do when someone or something comes at you and asks you to step aside. Literature, movies and history are filled with people who did it—Martin Luther King. Erin Brockavich. Captain America. Mother Theresa. Harry freakin’ Potter.

Of course, if your spine happens to made from damp socks then you’ll fold quicker than Superman on laundry day.

Rolling over instead of taking a stand for something that matters to you does 3 things:

  • diminishes your sense that you can have a meaningful impact
  • sets up patterns of behaviour where people-pleasing and fitting in is more important than making a decision that matters
  • fucks with you

Now, this doesn’t mean that you always have to come out swinging , that you have to transform a community or save the world. Taking a stand might simply be saying “No” when you’re asked to work the weekend because you want to spend quality time with someone you love. It might mean prioritising a personal project (getting fit, writing a book, setting up a business) over slouching in front of the TV. Or it might mean making a choice towards gratitude and wholeheartedness instead of cynicism and judgement.

Say no when you need to. Face a challenge when it’s right to. Be responsible when it’s easier not to. Because when you know what really matters to you, and that includes what you will and won’t compromise on, you can’t be fucked with.

So many ways to fuck with yourself

There are so many more ways you get to fuck with yourself. Trying to self-validate your identity by people-pleasing and being a bottomless pit. Chasing an unchallenged notion of success because that’s what you’ve been told or trained to do. Not owning your story or your self because there’s something there that makes you uncomfortable or challenges your beliefs, only to find that same lack of ownership is exactly what’s keeping you stuck.

With all these ways to fuck with yourself, it’s a miracle you get anything done.

But you do get things done. You have times when you do something that gives you the warm fuzzies because, well, it just matters. You have times when you smash through a challenge, because you bring your best to it and do what comes naturally. And you have times when you connect with someone deeply or laugh yourself silly, because you accept the fact that you’re already enough.

Acceptance over denial. Ease over struggle. Integration over separation.

This is how you stop fucking with yourself and start living.

Confidence Is Not Glass

Broken Glass (Obviously)
Confidence is many things, but it’s not glass.

If your confidence cracks when you’re feeling down or when you don’t know which way to go, then it’s not confidence.

If your confidence splinters when things don’t go your way or when life throws you a curveball, then it’s not confidence.

And if your confidence shatters when an insult is hurled or a failure is born or a misstep is taken, then it’s not confidence.

Confidence that breaks like glass isn’t confidence.

It’s armour; the thin skin that hides your feelings of not being good enough.

It’s pride; when your sense of your own dignity is under threat.

And it’s ego; the piercing of your own self-importance.

When things get through your armour, threaten your pride or pierce your ego it feels like your confidence is shattered. These things directly question your worth and your value as a human being. Who am I trying to kid?, you think to yourself as your confidence—the sense that you can fully trust that you’re already whole—goes MIA.

But these things aren’t confidence.

Real confidence goes deeper. Deep enough that it takes a crashing world to scratch it. So deep, that you can sometimes forget it’s there altogether.

But it’s always there, in the exact same place that allows you to feel at your best, to be flowing and to know what really matters.

It’s a bedrock. A place you can deliberately shift your focus back to when you need something to trust.

It’s a foundation. A place that can fuel you and guide you, not matter how crappy life gets.

And it’s a cornerstone. A place that tells you who you are and what truly matters to you.

That place can be forgotten or neglected, but it can’t be shattered.

Confidence, is not glass.

The Boom & Bust of Confidence

The Boom & Bust of Confidence
Finding that your confidence has dropped always comes as a surprise, because you rarely notice it happen. One day you’re out there doing things confidently, then time goes by and you suddenly realise that you’re questioning yourself and playing it safe.

I was as surprised as the next guy to recently discover that my own confidence has slipped.

It’s no crisis, but I’ve noticed I’ve been doing less, with fewer people, in more limited ways. And, as you might imagine, I’m more than a little perturbed by it.

It’s perhaps a strange comparison to make, but there’s often a boom and bust with confidence in the same way as there is in the economy. I’ll try to explain.

Economies grow as productivity increases, and that growth makes the market feel good about the economy. So we borrow and invest and the economy grows a bit more, and the market laps it up.

As confidence is established in the growth of an economy, the more it grows.

But then something interesting happens.

Either the collective belief in the system exceeds the reality of growth (after all the only thing that will just keep on growing is a virus) and creates a bubble, or things reach a plateau, the market gets twitchy and belief in the system underpinning growth falters.

As confidence grows in the market, the beliefs and systems that worked to create productivity and growth become unchallenged and unquestioned.

Blindly trusting any system easily tips into complacency.

And it’s under the blanket of complacency that real confidence gets eroded.

This keeps happening with economies, and it just happened to me. Without me even noticing, complacency and habit eroded my confidence.

And I woke up wondering why my metaphorical bank account was dry.

This boom and bust is part of our economic system and I’m seeing how it might be part of self-confidence too.

There’s one big difference though.

Markets are based essentially on fear on greed. Fear that they’ll lose what they have or what they’ve gained and greed for more growth and bigger results. I firmly believe that any system founded on two of our most base and unprincipled qualities will be deeply, systemically flawed, but that’s another article for another time.

Where confidence differs is that it’s founded not on any base or unprincipled qualities that are dependent on surrounding circumstances, but the belief that you’re whole and enough, regardless of circumstances.

You exert direct influence over the system of self-confidence, the beliefs that support it and the actions that stem from it.

The system of self-confidence is comprised of 3 A’s – awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance.

Awareness of thoughts, feelings and actions, open and honest acknowledgement of those things and how they serve you, and loving acceptance that you’re responsible for them.

The beliefs that underpin self-confidence all flow towards one thing: you’re already enough. You’re not broken, you don’t need to prove anything, you’re whole, just as you are.

And the actions that stem from confidence aren’t fed from habit or complacency, but by deliberate, meaningful decisions. These actions may not be easy, comfortable any may not even work out, but they’ll matter, whatever happens.

I guess these are the things I need to get back to, because confidence isn’t something you can “do” and then forget about.

So I’m getting out from under complacency and doing some work.

I got this.

Q&A: Do Confident People Ever Need to Be Comforted?

Seek comfort

Question: Do self-confident and successful people ever feel the need to be comforted by someone?

Hell yes.

To me, the thought that self confident people don’t need support, help or guidance from anyone else is crazy. But as we’re bombarded with images and messages and stories and media about success and hustling and crushing it, it’s sadly not surprising that people start to believe that they should be able to do it all themselves.

Self-confidence is not the same thing as strength. It isn’t the same as independence. Or self-reliance.

Confidence doesn’t make you a bullet-proof island where you don’t need anyone else. That’s arrogance, or hubris, or denial.

It’s fake news.

Self-confidence is the quality that makes it easier to trust yourself to be vulnerable. It makes it easier to seek comfort or ask for help, because you know your self-worth won’t decrease by doing so.

You get to go out there without your armor, curious and ready to explore.

It allows you to choose your behaviour with implicit trust. Not trust in the outcome, because none of us know what the hell’s going to happen, but trust in your ability to meet each moment fully and make choices that honour who you are.

Yes, you’ll screw up sometimes. You won’t have all the answers and things will go wrong. And that’s exactly where the ability to allow others to support and comfort you is so important.

That’s what real confidence is, and that’s what leads to real success.

How to Get Bullet-Proof Confidence

silver bullet

Bullet proof confidence sounds good, right?

Take everything life throws at you and shrug it off. All those people taking shots at you, and you don’t give a flying fuck. All the naysayers, critics and judgmental ass-hats no longer get to you.

Thanks to your bullet-proof confidence, you’re unassailable.

Great. Apart from 3 huge problems…

1. You’re human

Nobody is bullet-proof, and neither is your confidence. Life will always have something up it’s sleeve ready to surprise you. There’s always the chance that the rug will get pulled out from under you. That’s life.

Being hurt, feeling low or finding yourself lost is not a weakness to be fixed. It’s not a sign you’re broken or less than.

It’s a sign that you’re human.

Aiming for bullet-proof confidence is just a way to not get hurt. But that’s being closed and blinkered, and that’s not what confidence is.

2. You’re allowed to shake in your boots

The flipside of the desire to have bullet proof confidence is the notion that you’re a wimp if you’re shaking in your boots in the face of a challenge.

Let me call bullshit on that. Being scared doesn’t mean you’re not confident. It means you’re someplace new, faced with something you’ve never done before.

It’s okay to be scared in the face of that. It would be arrogant or complacent not to be.

Confidence is the thing that allows you to find a kernel of strength or peace or truth that allows you to take that next step, no matter how shakily you take it.

3. You need to be scathed

If you had bullet-proof confidence you could walk through a bullet storm and be unscathed. Not a scratch on you.

But I want to be scathed. I want the marks that show where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through. They don’t define me, but they sure as hell are part of me.

Fuck being smooth and perfect and unsacthed by life. It’s the edges and marks that are most interesting and beautiful.

It’s on the inside…

Being bullet-proof is all about having a hard shell that makes it impossible for those pesky bullets to get to you.

But it’s what you have on the inside, not the shell you construct on the outside, that fuels natural confidence.

Your values, for example. The things in yourself, others and out there in the world that are most important to you. They’re the foundations, cornerstones and bedrock for who you are. They’re the reasons that the most compelling or meaningful moments in your life have been so compelling and meaningful—because you’ve been honoring, expressing or demonstrating one of your values.

Your strengths. The combination of your experience, skills and talents that you can apply and that leave you feeling strengthened.

How you are when you’re at your best—that feeling of firing on all cylinders, being in flow and being at the top of your game. Which is also a place where you never even question whether you’re confident enough or good enough to do something. You just do it.

These things are hard-wired into you. They’re not going anywhere. You can always trust them.

The more you chase it, the more trying to be bullet-proof will hurt you.

So strangely, the key to having bullet-proof confidence (or its natural equivalent) is by practicing vulnerability.

Are you up for the challenge?

You Don’t Have a Freakin’ Clue

You Don't Have a Clue, and Nor Do You Need One
Life is hard.

I’ve learned that…the hard way.

Twists, turns, slaps and roundhouse kicks. Life is full of surprises.

We all go around pretending we know what’s going on. That we have our shit together.

I do it too. I want people to think well of me. I want to be the best at what I do. I want to create stuff that matters.

But really, I’m just making shit up as I go.

We’re spinning through space at 1.2 million miles per hour, and yet we’re still dumb enough to think we’re in control.

Anything can happen. At any time. Good or bad.

When you get right down to it, you don’t have a clue.

Nor do you need one, if “having a clue” means pretending to have your shit together and being someone you’re not because you want a bunch of people who don’t give a damn to like you

So…improvisation then.

The ability to meet a moment in its fullness and come up with something worth a damn.

The only things that needs is:

a. dropping the pretence that you know exactly what’s happening
b. acknowledging that you’re good enough to meet this moment head on, and
c. trust in your ability to make a choice

Sounds a lot like confidence to me.

And maybe that’s what life has wanted from us all along.

3 Reasons You Keep Losing Confidence In Yourself

3 Reasons You Keep Losing Confidence in Yourself
Everyone has moments when self-confidence seems to vanish quicker than a shiny election promise.

It’s frustrating, especially given how far you’ve come and everything you’ve done. As soon as you seem to be on top of things, something happens and you realise that, once again, you’re out of your depth and shaking in your metaphorical boots.

Happens to me too, and here’s what I think is happening.

You’re somewhere new

It’s easy to feel confident when everything around you is familiar. It takes zero effort, and that confidence isn’t really confidence at all. It’s safety, perhaps even complacency.

But life is full of new places. Your first day at school or college. A new job or a new relationship. A fresh challenge or a new town. And new is, of course, wholly unpredictable.

Your natural response to the unpredictable and unknowable is fear. And where there’s fear, there’s a voice in your head designed to make you turn back toward safety. A voice that will tell stories designed to undermine you. A voice that knows how to make you feel small.

Your expectations call the shots

Your brain is a real piece of work. It really is. It has a billion expectations about how the world needs to work. Expectations about what you’ll do (you’ll get up a certain time, do a certain job, see certain people, take a certain route, etc). Expectations about what others will do (help you out, get in your way, hear what you’re saying, be home on time, etc). And expectations about what you expect others expect of you (they expect me to play ball, they expect me to speak up, they expect me to be compliant, they expect me to show affection, etc).

Expectations will fuck you up faster than you can spell spleen. Not only are these three levels of expectations rolling around in your head all the time, but they’re often in conflict and drive your behaviour.

These expectations are only stories designed to help you make the world a little more predictable and a little less scary. But any time that they’re violated, denied or countered, all you’re left with is uncertainty and your own inability to make sense of the world.

You want perfection

You have high standards. I like that about you, and it’s good to want to do things to the best of your ability. Land a new job, and it feels like you need to make a fabulous impression and do faultless work that everyone notices. Start a new relationship and you want to fit together perfectly and hide all your weaknesses. Start a new creative project, and you want it all to flow naturally and for what you create to come together at the first attempt.

Perfection, I’m thrilled to say, is bullshit.

The second you fall short of it, your brain kicks in and tells you that you were never really good enough. Who are you trying to kid?

Chasing perfection is one of the surest ways to short-circuit your self-confidence that exists.

How to stop losing confidence in yourself

Your confidence vanishes because you’re not paying attention to how you’re thinking.

It’s really just that simple.

Natural confidence is still there, but it’s smothered by thinking that’s layered on top like a old, damp carpet. Thinking that can be tough to shift, but can always be interrupted.

Good news though. You can train yourself to notice when thoughts of not-being-confident are rolling through your head.

You get to point at them and say, “Oh hey, it’s you again”, without any judgement or self-flagellation. That might not stop you from shaking in those boots of yours, but it affords you the space to reconnect.

And that’s the important thing. To realise that not feeling confident doesn’t mean that you don’t have confidence*.

You can reconnect with what matters to you most. You can reconnect with everything you’ve become. You can reconnect with what it feels like to be at your best.

Those are the things that are hardwired into you.

They’re not going anywhere, and even when you loose confidence in yourself, you can still place your confidence in them.

* Feel free to read this sentence again. It’s a tricky one.

Q&A: How to Be a Force to be Reckoned With?

Maîtriser la force

Question: How do you make sure that you are perceived as a force to be reckoned with? Some people just have a presence in a room and it’s felt by everyone without a doubt. How do you achieve that?

Sounds good doesn’t it? Having people notice you. Attracting people towards you. Becoming a force to be reckoned with.

But, if I might answer a question with a question – do you want to be a force to be reckoned with, or perceived as a force to be reckoned with?

Maybe it’s just semantics, but if your goal is to be perceived as the kind of person who has presence and charisma then your focus is in the wrong place. People will perceive whatever the hell they want, and spending your effort and energy on having people perceive you in a certain way is sure to leave you exhausted, frustrated and empty.

It’s a hollow aim, focused on what others think about you rather than how you feel about yourself.

Real confidence comes from the inside-out, not the outside-in. Seems to me that the people referred to in the question have reached a point where they:

  • accept who they are, warts and all, and stop beating themselves up for any weaknesses or for their “darker”, less desirable parts
  • understand and honour what matters to them most
  • shift their decision-making behind the things in themselves, in other people or out there in the world that matter the most
  • prioritise being who they are over fitting in or pleasing everyone
  • recognise that they’re simultaneously a work in progress and whole, without the need to prove anything

What these qualities (and many more) lead to is a sense of congruence. A sense that someone is whole, together, flowing.

That’s what those people have, and that’s the aim here. It’s everything to do inner work, and nothing to do with how someone else judges your insides from the outside.

Reaching that point is a process of acceptance and integration of who you are and what matters to you—bringing all the pieces together— and also letting go of the expectations and drives that get in the way of that (messy stuff like fitting in, staying safe, people-pleasing, second-guessing, etc).

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