Ever suffer from Impostor Syndrome? This is the feeling that no matter what external results you see, no matter how “expert” you become, you constantly doubt your own authority and ability.
It’s funny, because the people I know who have the worst time with it are often the ones who are the best qualified. (While Impostor Syndrome classically hits more women than men, I have to say that I know an awful lot of smart men who struggle with it as well.)
In small doses, Impostor Syndrome pushes us to keep working on our skills. To keep stretching, to fill in the gaps, and to focus almost obsessively on improving ourselves. In moderation, it keeps us honest and makes us better.
But it quickly goes from being motivating to being a force that keeps people stuck. Stuck in their businesses or careers, stuck accepting their own distorted self-image, while less-qualified people leapfrog past them.
I’ve been there. And it’s just a hideous drag.
I fought Impostor Syndrome for a long time, and I wanted to share the best antidote I’ve found to it.
First, what doesn’t work: In my experience, there’s no amount of self-talk or “I can do it!” self-motivation that will really do much for the problem. You might be able to pump yourself up in the short term, but in the long run, the negativity wins out.
So if you can’t talk yourself out of it with words, what does work?
Showing yourself that you’re qualified — with action and results.
Authority comes from the audience
I’ve said that on this blog and in interviews probably hundreds of times at this point. Your authority comes from your audience, and more specifically, from how you help that audience get something they want.
That’s true for how they perceive you, but it’s also true for how you perceive yourself.
Helping others solve pressing problems gives you more than nice words — it gives you tangible results. And when you’re counteracting the habitually pessimistic voices in your head, tangible results are excellent evidence to shut down the negativity.
My favorite confidence booster
I teach this technique a lot when I get the question (as I often do), “How do I know I’m ready to move forward with my business?”
You’re ready to move forward when you can help a significant number of people. And you can prove that to yourself by teaching.
You might have noticed that we always encourage content marketers to focus on what they can meaningfully teach their audience — while keeping that audience engaged and entertained. (Which, of course, is what all good teachers do.)
You teach with blog content. You teach with what you share on social media. (Even a tweet can teach.)
You might run a free Q&A session, to answer the questions that have your audience hung up. (This is also killer market intelligence for your product development, by the way.)
When you see that you have answers to their thorny questions, you start to realize that, yes — you do “deserve” to be in a position of authority, because your expertise can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.
Probably the most potent way to teach and to give your audience a meaningful change in their own lives is to structure some valuable teaching over time — in other words, to teach a course.
Courses used to be pretty hard to set up
Long ago, I was a freelance copywriter. But my business really became something my family and I could count on when I started teaching.
(It always amuses me that I didn’t go to grad school because I couldn’t picture myself teaching for a living. Oops.)
The first course I taught online was a collection of static HTML pages. There is not enough eye bleach on the Internet to make up for how ugly these pages were. It worked — teaching is so powerful that it can even transcend bad web design. My audience got the transformation they wanted, and my confidence grew. (So did my revenue.)
But that was years ago — before our audiences became spoiled with polished, professional education sites. If I tried that today, I’d burn a lot of good will on the way to helping those folks out.
The second course I taught online was done properly (for those days), in an access-controlled membership site. I won’t tell you the software I used, but I will tell you it was miserable to manage. It cost me quite a lot of money to set up, security was an ongoing game of whack-a-mole, and the site didn’t really have the functionality my students wanted. (I am still grateful to my wonderful developer for getting it as far as she did.)
It was ok. The students loved the teaching. And I loved my students. But none of us loved the experience of being on that site.
The third course I helped teach online was here with Copyblogger. It was robust. It looked amazing. All of the member management was taken care of. And it was custom-built, by us, at a significant cost in talent, development time, and money.
That was the Teaching Sells course (you’ll hear more about that later this year), and the question we probably got more often than any other was:
How can I get a site like this for my business?
So, we did what any smart, audience-focused company would do. We built an answer to that question.
The tools are so much better now …
Just like “easy reading is damned hard writing,” it turns out that “easy user experience is damned hard coding.”
It took a long time. It took a lot of developer hours. But we were fortunate enough to have some amazing developers and designers on board to build the Rainmaker Platform. And we’ve recently added powerful “Pro” features, including the introduction of Learning Management System tools.
In other words: Tools that let you teach online, and deliver amazing transformations to your customers, without killing yourself setting up the website.
What kind of tools? Well, handy things like the ability to create full online courses and easily create modules, embed audio and video lessons, stagger multimedia content access using a drip-delay, and protect file downloads.
All in a well-designed, user-friendly experience for your learners — and an easy-to-set-up interface for you that won’t have you calling your developer in a panic.
Those tools are in place today for the Rainmaker Platform Pro owners, but we’re also still hard at work refining them, making them more robust to create an ever richer, more exceptional experience for your learners.
I realize this is all a little abstract, and it might be hard to see just how you would use a Learning Management System. That’s why Jerod Morris and Copyblogger’s founder Brian Clark are hosting a free webinar class on how these tools (as well as some sweet new marketing automation) would work for your own projects.
The webinar is free, and you can sign up for it here:
Rainmaker Platform Pro webinar
The class will take place on Monday, April 27, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 2:00 p.m. Central, 1:00 p.m. Mountain, 12:00 p.m. Pacific.
These have been long-awaited features, and space in the session is limited, so register right away. (You don’t have to be an existing Rainmaker Platform customer to attend.)
And we’re looking forward to talking more with you on April 27!
Image by jarmoluk via Pixabay.