Imposter syndrome is debilitating. Especially when you’re passionate about something, and you keep seeing others do the thing better than you can. But it isn’t just a talent or a skill that will give us the dreaded syndrome — sometimes it’s sharing our knowledge.
I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and advice to give. For as young as I am (not THAT young, but young nonetheless), I have lived an awful lot of life, especially in 2020.
But no matter what knowledge I wish to share, there is always someone older and wiser than me who can say it truer and clearer. That alone used to loom over me. It would keep me from telling stories because they’ve “already been heard.”
Of course, there are some things I wouldn’t dare speak on, like how a father should raise his son or how a husband should lead a hesitant wife. I am not a father, and I am not married. My life has not yet granted me the practical experience to share in those situations.
But, is there a way I could speak on them?
What An Older Friend Told Me that Changed My View
One sunny afternoon, I was at a park smoking cigars talking with a good friend. I told him how little I could speak on things a man should know because I didn’t have the authority to say it.
“Sure you can,” he says. “You may not be able to tell a man how to raise a kid, but you can tell him what a son needs from his father.”
That simple change in perspective made me realize I can share my experience on anything — so long as I have experience on the topic. You see, we all have a unique perspective on everything we see, do, and consume. My idea of a hot take may not be hot at all to you, and vice versa, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
What you aren’t taking into consideration is your audience. The people who talk to you, look up to you, and follow you on any platform, do so for one reason and one reason only: You.
It’s All About You
Imposter Syndrome is entirely your fault. Other “experts” on your subject matter of choice aren’t the ones inflicting Imposter Syndrome on you; you are. Hell, most know-it-alls don’t care that you’re talking about what they talk about, and nobody cares if you don’t know as much as they do.
When you get stuck in your thoughts of comparing yourself to someone else who “knows more” than you do, you’re neglecting your audience because they want to hear your hot take, not someone else’s take. Even if it’s the same take, they want to hear the words come out of your mouth.
I could stop talking about fatherhood altogether because I don’t know the first thing about actually being a father, but I’ve been a son all my life. And I’ve got siblings. I’ve experienced first hand what a good father is, and I’ve seen it play out first hand, too.
Does that make me an expert? Hell no. But you aren’t reading this because I’m an expert. You’re reading this because of my take, not someone else’s take.
Here’s another tip: Nobody wants an expert.
I’m taking business advice from my friend who’s failed his first business and turned that experience into three successful ones, not the college professor who’s teaching his students how to write a convincing business plan.
I’m not taking fitness advice from the leading expert on exercise science when he looks like all the junk food he eats; I’m taking it from the Gym Bro, who squats 600 lbs and looks like a Greek God.
Yes, their experience in those fields makes them an expert. But not on paper. They don’t have the credentials of a stereotypical authority (a degree).
Credentials are meaningless if not backed by experience, plain and simple.
You get the idea. People want to hear your unique story because they can relate to it. But not just to relate to you. It’s a matter of trust. The more your people trust you, the more they’ll see you as an expert.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Means Overcoming Yourself
I’ve seen prideful men fold under pressure when asked hard-hitting questions about their topic matter of choice because they want to sound like an expert more than they want to talk about their first-hand experience.
Why is that? Because they aren’t confident in themselves. They assume people turn to them because of what they talk about, not how they talk about a subject matter.
If you want to kill the demon of imposter syndrome, you have to kill the self-doubt you have in yourself. That means leaning into your expertise and not rewording what some other expert has to say about it.
Talk more about how you know something than what you know.
Remember, people, learn more from stories than they do essays. All of the profound lessons I’ve learned from other people I learned because it was a story. The best lessons came from stories that were only intended to be stories. You don’t listen to the story because you want to learn; you listen because you want to learn more about the person telling it.
Think about it. You don’t care about “the moral of the story.” You want to hear their morals in the story.
Let imposter syndrome die by telling stories for the sake of telling them. Nobody can tell your story better than you can. Is that cliche as hell? Absolutely. But if you haven’t leaned into the truth of the cliche, no harm in telling you again.
You were put on this earth by a generous, divine creator for a reason. It doesn’t matter what that reason is, nor does it matter when you finally figure out why you’re here. All that matters is that you share your experiences along the way.
For myself personally, I am here to help other men. I have had that calling on my heart since 2016 (I was yet to graduate high-school). From 2016 until the sunny afternoon, I wrestled with what I could share, and yes, I still do from time to time. However, when told as a story, mixed with natural experience, it positions me as an authority. People gravitate to authenticity like moths to a flame.
The first — and last — step to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is simple, but never easy: Share your story (the real, raw, and uncut story, not the sugar-coated story of triumph; the one where you lose and lose badly, but still press on to do bigger and greater things).
With that, you’ll be hearing from me very, very soon.
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