In this beautiful ballad “That I Would Be Good,” Alanis Morisette masterfully captures something that comes up often in my coaching conversations. I hear it from emerging leaders and established leaders, from men and women, from entrepreneurs, and from employees at all levels of business. And I can certainly relate myself. The narrative goes something like this:
“You’re not good enough.”
“Someone will discover this.”
“You’re not worthy of this success (or the next).”
“You’ll be found out.”
The truth is, the fear of not being good enough or being an imposter is something nearly every man, woman, and child has felt to some extent. This oh-so-human experience of self-doubt is often led by an inner voice that insists, no matter how much success you’ve had to prove otherwise, that you’re not good enough, just got lucky somehow, and are bound to blow it. Even best-selling author and Nobel Poet Laureate Maya Angelou admitted grappling with it when she confessed, “I’ve written 11 books and each time I think, ‘Uh oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
What Can We Do?
Real freedom and success come when we learn to work with feelings of unworthiness. How, you ask? Here are three ways:
1. Don’t Make it Mean Anything
Much like our four-legged friends do, kick some dirt over that SH#T and move on. Try allowing yourself to feel the fear, doubt, or unworthiness and not make it mean that you have to do anything about it. A feeling has one mission: to be felt. Make a conscious choice not to give it any more power. Feel the fear and move forward anyway. That’s the quickest path to showing yourself that fear has no real power.
2. See It For What It Is
Fear and self-doubt are judgments we’re making from the weakest part of ourselves, an “inner bully” that often comes from early childhood. But inside of each one of us is a stronger self, too. That stronger self can be heard when we finally stop giving our power away to negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. I’ve learned a lot about self-judgment from my coach and friend, Dr. Robert Holden. He suggests spending a few minutes each morning contemplating this: What is it like to be me when I’m not judging myself? I’ve found when I stop judging myself, I feel instant relief.
3. Let It Go
You get to pick the thoughts you want to hold onto and allow to run your life. One of my favorite practices, developed by Byron Katie, involves analyzing any situation causing you distress by asking, “Who would I be without this thought?” It’s also important to note that letting go and seeing yourself as good enough does not mean you don’t take action. In fact, when you stop beating yourself up in hopes of creating positive change, your energy can be redirected into choices and behaviors that support you in your highest goals.
We are all so good, so whole, and so enough. The way to access your best self, your best career, and your best life is to accept the truth about yourself; to acknowledge that you are an acorn, with all the makings of the great oak tree already inside you. Your job is to take action that encourages that greatness to be nourished, nurtured, take root, and bloom.
Lyrics – That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morisette
That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
Whether with or without you