I’ve hung around smart people most of my life. In school, I was in honors and AP classes in high school. I went to Georgia Tech where my classmates were intimidatingly brilliant. Now I spend a lot of my days with successful entrepreneurs that have built and sold companies, invented things, invested wisely and generally crushed this whole business thing. I consistently find myself in rooms with people smarter and more successful than I am. But, really, this is no surprise because that’s how it’s always been.
I frequently look around the room and have imposter syndrome. I felt this way in AP Physics when my buddy David had to tutor me the whole way through the class just for me to get a decent grade. I felt that same way in Physics at Georgia Tech when I realized that in two weeks at Tech we covered the material from an entire year of high school AP Physics. In high school, college, business, and the master’s program I worked on, I was never the smartest in the room and frequently felt like an imposter.
According to wikipedia, “Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”
I confess I have imposter syndrome from time to time, feeling like I’m in over my head and hanging with a crowd that is already ten steps ahead of me. While this may sound like a bad thing, I’m not sure it is. First, I think most people have imposter syndrome as we get better and are pushed to go beyond our own limits. Second, I think spending time with people that are ahead of me forces me to become better and to step into the role that doesn’t quite feel like a fit just yet.
When we started 48in48, I had no idea if we could pull it off. Many times along the way I felt the fear of uncertaintly. But, I didn’t embrace that. Instead, I embraced the person I knew I needed to become in order to pull off the event. And, in the end, we did it! I may have felt like an imposter, but I wasn’t. I was able to do more than I thought I could because I was willing to become someone new, a better version of myself that I had not seen before.
I think we all get imposter syndrome. But, I don’t think it has to weigh us down. We can embrace the person we need to become, enabling us to perform at a whole new level.