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3 ways to silence imposter syndrome (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star)

Roughly, Gab & Jam, episode 225. ​​​​Three ways to silence imposter syndrome (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star) (video: and podcast: )

What is "imposter syndrome"?

You’re probably asking the same thing that Bruce did, which is ‘What is “imposter syndrome”?’ Basically, it’s self-doubt on steroids. However, according to Harvard Business Review, it was coined in 1978:

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

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Why does it seem to hit musical artists more?

This seems particularly important to us D.I.Y. Rock Stars, because there is a certain level of vulnerability in building something on your own—especially in the creative realm—so that, as we attain higher heights and check larger goals off the list and receive higher accolades, it is sometimes hard to see that anything has changed—except that we know it has (in terms of subscribers and influence and brand notoriety). This leads to wondering if we “belong” where we are. Similar to doctors and lawyers, there is an assumption by those outside that you know “everything” about whatever it is you are talking about. After all, you are the “expert,” right? And often other folks in your profession will foster that doubt in you, in order to make themselves feel “more qualified,” so it’s not a surprise when it’s hard to tell how much of an authority you are, actually.

South By Southwest 2022 Travel Vlog

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So, it’s pervasive in other professions, like in medicine and law, but in music, it can be even worse. Music is a subjective field, so it is hard to even tell which goals you are “supposed” to meet—since we see folks who “make it” in all kinds of ways and through all kinds of forms—which makes it even more difficult when someone questions your qualifications. There is always someone out there, who is better—who can play better, who has more followers, more record sales, etc.—which is why, according to Harvard Business Review, 78% of folks—including those who are “successful”—have felt this way.

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Here are two things to remember about your abilities and your goals.

1. You know more than you think

Remember, that even if you don’t know anything about what you’re attempting right now, you’re very likely bringing skills and talents from your “other” life as Clark Kent that will help you succeed in this new pursuit, so trust that you are wiser than you think to meet this challenge. Our example is using the skills we bring from our day job—to engage people and to lead projects—to help us at trying to run our own record label/production company, and by extension our Facebook groups, etc. I KNEW that we have been successful doing things for bosses, but never realized that this same know-how could help us work our way through the challenges of doing it on our own, but it has. What often calms me down those feelings of imposter syndrome is that, when we are having the conversations about our topics, we hold our own. —And even in a room full of music business and musicology “professionals” (in places like at South By Southwest, we can carry on a rich conversation, so that helps convince me that we’re right where we SHOULD be.

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2. Nobody knows everything

Because we are all in the constant state of learning, when it comes to our professions. There was a time when Bruce was confident as a bass player—and knew that someone NOT as proficient could NOT teach him anything—when a bass player did just that—hit a lick that Bruce have never done. He said that right then and there, he realized that you are never too wise to learn from someone who we perceive as not as good. Conversely, though, just because you can learn from somebody DOESN’T make you an imposter; it only reminds you that you can always stand to add to your knowledge-base and your skillset, as an exercise in continuing education.

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3. As you walk toward a goal, the universe will line up to help you.

Even if a goal is so much larger than you think, as you name the goal, make a plan, and start working the plan, you will “discover” more about how to do it better and/or you will seemingly “run into” folks that can help you in this particular pursuit. Tony Robbins calls this your “reticular activating system” going to work for you. In short, it’s a bundle of nerves in the brain that helps you, once you narrow in on what you want. In other words, if you say you want, for instance, to curate a kick-ass studio–as Bruce did before I met him–suddenly, you will start to see articles on it and hear friends talking about it, because you have filtered out quite a bit of other material to focus in on that one goal. This is the same when it comes to running a successful record label or becoming a public speaker or walking in your rock star persona. The more you walk toward this goal, the more you will find resources and strategies to help you do it better. This helps remind us to continue “walk the talk,” since the muse can help when she finds you working.

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4. Here’s the problem with “faking it until you make it”…

The problem with this “fake it until you make it” mindset is that you are reminding yourself that you are a fraud. –Actually, the key to NOT feeling like an imposter is running your own race. What that means is that admitting that you are like no other and that this is the best asset that you have. By leaning into your own uniqueness and embracing the power and scarcity of it, the less you will feel like an imposter; the more you will know you are knowledgeable at the important things—your passion and your mission.


Three Ways to silence the feeling of imposter syndrome:

In order to train your brain NOT to succumb to it, you must be deliberate in your plan to squash it, so here is how to do just that. This is a third-fold list of tactics that will help over the feelings when they surface.

1. The first is to have a vision board (where you are clear about what you plan to accomplish

This dove-tails well off of point two above. By knowing what the goal is and establishing a plan to get there, you have something to “fall back on” when faced with thoughts that you are not capable. –The caveat is to be sure that you are making goals and a plan that is tailored to your own distinctive character; and not in the image of some other creative. We’re not saying not to be inspired by others, but be sure that you don’t take on these other folks’ expectations as your own and that you don’t imitate all that others have done. By staying true to you, you will push yourself back on the path of feeling knowledgeable and secure.

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2. Second, is to find some kind of affirmation

This helps you get your head back in the game, since the MAIN problem with impostor syndrome is that it can prevent you from even ATTEMPTING to get moving. So, by having some sort of statement that you can repeat to yourself to motivate you to take the next steps will be a goals-saver as you go, learn, and grow. –For me, I think to myself that “C” people run the world and that, if someone else can do it, so can I! Seriously. This is my “secret sauce.” Those folks don’t overthink things; and simply lean into how they feel. I try to do more of that, because it helps calm me and allows me NOT to get “stuck,” second-guessing myself, and not doing the work that I need to do to make progress. Bruce’s affirmation is ”Am I doing my best?” He tries to give his best effort at the time. He has to be comfortable with the result; no matter what others think about it. That way, he can defend the work and feel good about himself.. Find yours and repeat it when you are in doubt about your abilities to do something. It will get you moving on that next step.

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3. Third, we’ve said this before, but keep a list of your accomplishments–ESPECIALLY in this area.

This is critical to help bolster you when these feelings arise. –And if you have YET to have accomplished anything, pat yourself on the back a little for having a plan and for sticking to it. Even THAT counts.

There are countless other ways to help fight imposter syndrome, but we thought we’d share just a few of the most powerful antidotes.

What about you? What do you do to stop feeling like an imposter? We’ve love to hear about your methods. Leave it in the comments below.

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