“I am a fraud!” Wow, it feels good to admit that. I do not have it all figured out, and you know what? That’s OK! Sometimes the pressure to perform and look like I know what I’m doing is overwhelming, and the honest truth of it all is this: Most days, I’m just doing the best I know to do. That next step. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately around “Imposter Syndrome”. It is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” While this is something many people legitimately struggle with as a psychosis, I believe that most of us find ourselves in the valley of the Imposter from time to time or there wouldn’t be a million mugs and t-shirts with “fake it til you make it” printed on them. But is being a fraud really such a terrible thing? I don’t think it is, and if you will permit me, dear readers, I’d like to share with you why that is in a blog post entitled: “How to succeed by being a fraud in (3 easy steps!)”
- Embrace your Fraudacity (Nope, that’s not a word, but it should be!)
Everyone who has achieved anything significant started out as an imposter. They were faking their way through, hoping for the best. Does this mean they never planned, or tried, or knew nothing about their field going in? No. What it means is that they pressed on through the self-doubt, the inner and outer voices telling them they cannot do it and the seemingly insurmountable odds to arrive at a place where a fraud is no longer a fraud, but a master. But they would never have gotten there if they had allowed their own inner dialogue and the naysayers to keep them from pressing on… There is something incredible that happens when I accept that I don’t know it all, but am willing to try anyway.
I remember the first time stepping into a gym after I decided to live more healthily. I had no idea what I was doing. I had a little plan I had pieced together from the Internet and to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed. Giant machines being used by superhumans with the grace of a Russian ballerina, and here I was with no idea where to start. Ditto for learning how to eat better. I had noob (“Noob” is short for “newbie”) tattoed on my forehead. I was so self-conscious and clueless, but you know what I realised as I slowly tried? So was almost everybody else there. There’s something incredible that happens when I realise that most of us are simply doing what we think is right and forging our own clumsy path as we do. After a month or two I knew more than most. I researched, I tried different equipment. I googled recipes and most of all, I realised that I didn’t have it all figured out in order to make headway. There’s something freeing about admitting to myself that I don’t know it all, that I don’t know all the facts, and that I’m not going to get it right all the time… It doesn’t free me from trying, asking for help, learning, or doing my best, but it frees me from the crippling fear that I might fail (because I know that I probably will), but that’s OK, as long as I get up and keep going…
- Be a Consistent Fraud
Thomas Edison had 1000 unsuccessful attempts at making a light bulb before he cracked it. To the outside world, he would have looked like a fraud. But what happens to our perspective when we start to embrace each and every failure as a step forward towards our goal? In my 40 years of life, I tried more eating plans, exercise routines and lose weight fast schemes than I would care to mention here. And for some reason, none of them ever took. The only constant is that I never accepted defeat. I kept trying. What is standing between you and your goal? Are you trying to write a novel? Get fitter? Pay off debt? Have you given up? What inner resolve must it have taken for Edison to keep going after attempt 534? Make no mistake, I’m sure he was ridiculed and laughed at, and I’m sure there were times when he had to talk himself off the ledge. It is NOT easy to keep going when all evidence points to the fact that you will never make it. But KEEP GOING! Even if it’s writing one paragraph a day. Or walking around one block. Eating one less unhealthy meal a day. Whatever it looks like for you, keep going, and take one more step forward. And then do it again tomorrow…
- Fraud + (Consistency x Time) + Community = Master
And for those of you going: “I don’t have the strength left for one more try…” or “I don’t think I could survive another disappointment?” Let me tell you, I was there. And the only thing I could do was this: I had to admit that I did not have it in me to do it by myself. For me, my faith is foundational in everything I do, and I had to hit rock bottom and earnestly ask God to give me the strength to do what I had failed at so many times before. And you know what, it’s like a switch flipped in my heart. I found strength and moxie I never had before. (For those of you wondering what moxie is, it describes someone with a fighting spirit, and reveals my age!) I also discovered that something incredible happens when we invite others into our journey. Join a writing group. Work out with someone else. Ask a close friend (or significant other – my wife is incredible at this) to keep you accountable to your commitments and to walk alongside you for a season. Join a healthy eating community like Slimming World (that’s how I started…) But whatever you do, don’t go it alone. Choosing to make God and people a part of my journey has made all of the difference. We are designed for community, and sometimes all that stands between a fraud becoming a master is recognising where my strength will come from and who God has put in my life to walk the journey with me.
So here I am, two years down the line, and no, I would still not call myself a Master, but you know what, I’m no longer a fraud either. I walk into the gym like I own it, and after over 600 workout sessions in the last couple of years, that’s exactly how I feel. I look at food differently. I know its value, and I know what the price is of overindulging, and yes, sometimes I still choose to pay that price, but more often than not, I don’t.
So let me encourage you, one fraud to another (because there are still areas in which I feel like a fraud), that all that stands between you and where you want to be is the ability to recognise that you don’t know everything (which is OK), that true failure only happens when you don’t get up again, and that God and the people around you are waiting to walk the road from Fraud to Master with you.
Let the Fraudacity commence…