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  • Clive Vanderwagen

Run towards what scares you...

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence (Harvard Business Review).

As part of my quest to have multiple streams of income, I write press releases for a Canadian PR company about prominent American entrepreneurs, coaches, spiritual leaders, and authors. I get to interview super interesting people who have amazing views of the world and have managed to build enormous success in their relevant field of expertise.


Each article teaches me a bit about a world I know nothing about but reminds me how connected we are as humans. Even though they speak from cities far from me, in time zones that force me to interview them in the middle of my night, and from industries that are foreign to me, ultimately they all come from a place of wanting to serve and make the world better. And make money (or become famous) while doing it.

But my biggest takeaway after writing all these articles is the importance of self-belief. Many of them talk about imposter syndrome and coming from a childhood where they felt they weren't enough, but somehow they have had the resilience (or perhaps grit, to use Angela Duckworth's word to describe it) to overcome their past, and beat down the gnawing voice that tells them they're not enough.

I ask them how they do it because Lord knows, I'm the first one to remind myself how shit I am. I have to work hard to wake up in the morning and not believe that today is the day when people discover I know nothing. And what's been amazing is that they feel the same thing, but their gift is being able to push past it and proudly declare to the world that they're amazing. I have also realised that if you say you are good, people will believe it.


You see, getting into articles means you have to tell a writer how amazing you are so they can translate it into an article that a publication will publish. Most of my articles go to esteemed publishing houses like Thrive Global, Forbes and Wealth Insider. In each of these articles, I have to find something to say about this person that will show the reader the person I am interviewing is different, interesting, and most importantly, worth working with. and more often than not, it's easy to do. I end up buying their books or subscribing to their online courses.


Yet so often what comes up when I chat to them is the person's confidence in what they do, and the underlying anxiety that they aren't enough.


You see, success isn't about defeating imposter syndrome. Everyone believes that they're not good enough. (Except Trump.) But success lies in allowing that feeling of 'not enoughness' to drive you rather than cripple you.


Fear has been my script for so long. It's been the hero of my book. I've been scared to be vulnerable, to create a platform, a voice, and to say that I'm really good at my job, because deep down I don't know if I am, and often rely on others to find out if I've made the grade. But it's important that fear is in the script. Because fear is actually the gift – when we choose to use fear to drive us rather than to silence us.


Do you think Mandela wasn't scared while he fought to free us from apartheid? I think he often was. But I believe that fear drove him to make a difference and to rise amongst the masses to have a voice that others followed.

Fear will always be a given. It's what you do with that fear. Do you let it shout you into a corner or do you let it into your mind for a conversation?


I'll show you how I'm overcoming fear right now.


As I write this, my mind is shouting at me that this is crap. That no one will read it. That some might like it just because they feel sorry for you. And that others may leave you crappy comments and troll you.


But fear is good because it means that this article means something to me. If I didn't care about how it would land, it means that there was no heart behind it. So clicking that publish button will be the ultimate victory in my war against imposter syndrome and being my own worst enemy.


Fear is saying that others matter more. Success is saying I'm feeling that others matter more but I'm choosing to use that to fuel me to prove it wrong rather than to let it silence me.


Others write far better articles than me. Doesn't matter. All that matters is that I've been true to myself, allowed my voice to be heard, and hopefully brought some of you along for the ride.


What's holding you back from clicking publish? What's stopping you from proclaiming to the world that you're actually damn good at what you do. What is fear robbing you of, rather than fuelling you to fight for?


Write that blog.


Post that song.


Tell that person you love them.


Start that business.


Wear that dress.


Phone that person.


Work on that dream.


Run towards what scares you.