… are the people who make it.
We all love to talk about ‘imposter syndrome’. In agencies. In consultancies. In studios. In AA meetings. In life.
It’s rampant. Why?
Because we’re all impostors. For most of my career, I wasn’t imaging that I was an impostor. I was one.
Advertising is legalised fibbery. We make it up as we go along.
As Seth Godin points out, everyone who is doing important work is working on something that might not work. And it’s extremely likely that they’re also not the very best qualified person on the planet to be doing that work.
Think about it. How could it be any other way? The odds that a pure meritocracy chose you and you alone to inhabit your spot on the ladder is worthy of Dunning-Kruger status. You’ve been getting lucky breaks for a long time. We all have.
Yes, you’re an imposter. So am I. So is everyone else.
The trick is to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Some people rely on motivation. I prefer discipline. Motivation doesn’t always show up. Discipline, or at least the stimulus for discipline, is always there whether you want it or not… either in the ping of an alarm or a twinge of conscience. For that I need to call on something greater than me.
I think there are two ways we can function in this world. We can navigate using the spirit, or using the mind. The spirit will put us into contact with soul expression and expansion, while the mind will put us into contact with schemes and strategies.
Although most people live their lives from a place of doing, in other words living through the mind, the quality of our life resides in our being, or living through the spirit. Taking it one step further, living through the mind is fear-based while living through the spirit is love-based. That’s where true creativity resides. That’s when we find live in spirit – literally with in-spir-ation. When we conduct our lives from a place of being rather than doing, we walk into uncertainty. We surrender to the outcome. The act of surrender may sound fearful, but in this case it is actually rooted in love and belief. That’s essential. The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.
Isn’t doing your best all you can do? Dropping the narrative of the impostor isn’t arrogant, it’s merely a useful way to get your work done without giving into resistance. Resistance is evil, completely toxic and is the only reason we ever experience true unhappiness. It’s a new way to spell procrastination. Which is a five syllable word for sloth.
The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. The more scared I feel about something, the more sure we can be that I have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of resistance. Therefore the more fear I feel about a specific action, the more certain we can be that that course is important to me and to my growth.
So fear is good. It’s normal; it’s important and necessary. Without it you feel indifferent. The fact that you keep pushing, keep wanting to learn and keep showing up means you are winning the war against your own resistance. The ersatz innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. I used to just call it writer’s block… but it was just plain old fashioned fear.
Time spent fretting about our status as impostors is time away from dancing with our fear, from leading and from doing work that matters. And we all know what fear spells: False Evidence Appearing Real.
Fear is a lie. It keeps us from truth. And truth is the ultimate persuader.
Advertising is persuasion. And persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.