Amazing things happen when we change our self-defeating lies into powerful truths. There are all sorts of fake stories we tell ourselves that hold us back without us realizing it. When we let go of those lies, breakthroughs occur. I’ve experienced this firsthand as well as in others.
The first lie is a concept known as impostor syndrome. And at one point, I had it bad. It was when I first started my company, and I had all of these wonderful entrepreneurs in our community and beyond to look up to. I’d hear them interviewed saying brilliant and shocking things, I’d read their deep and insightful blog posts, and see them at events and marvel at how they always knew exactly what to say. They were so self-assured and confident.
My life as a fledgling business owner at that time, however, was a master class in winging it. I spent almost every day handling problems I had never encountered before and had no idea how to solve. I felt like an impostor compared with all of these confident people I admired. But as I got to know them better, that began to change. A funny thing about entrepreneurs is that when we get together and the doors are closed, it’s like group therapy and we let it out. And little by little, in one-on-one conversations, I learned that every single one of the people I admired, the people who were out there doing something different and moving the world forward, was dealing with uncertainty too.
What I realized is that they weren’t confident because they knew all the right answers, but because they knew the right questions. They were working on problems that mattered, and if their first attempt wasn’t right, they’d keep trying until they got there.
Of course it’s not easy. I’ve been in that moment when you’ve been fighting hard for something you really want for a long time. The moment when you’re tired, when you feel like you can’t take one more thing. And then one more thing happens. Something big and overwhelming that you don’t see how to fight.
One of those moments came for me came when I was working for someone else before I started my own company. I had a job that I loved at a company that I loved. I was working crazy hours but I was so all in that I was happy to do it and planned to work there for the rest of my career. But then I got on the wrong side of a very powerful person at that company, and suddenly my future there vanished.
I moped and felt sorry for myself for months. Even when I eventually left and started my own company there was kind of a cloud hanging over me. This little plot twist wasn’t one I was celebrating at the time. It hurt. I felt like everything I had worked for was gone and I was starting over - and I knew exactly who to blame for it. Until one day I realized that I wouldn’t change it. That gnarled, rocky road had led me to something bigger and better than I’d ever imagined when I was working for someone else. It wasn’t a tragedy, but rather my catalyst for change.
That’s why the second lie we need to change is falling in love with our own tragic stories. Now I’m not saying that real and difficult and unjust things don’t happen every day, they absolutely do. I’m saying that by taking on that identity of a martyr, we are accepting a powerlessness that does not serve us, and in fact keeps us stuck in the quicksand of negativity. In fact it’s always been the case for me that the universe starts throwing grenades my way when it’s time to own my power, choose a new path, and level up.
Many of us are, deep down, a little afraid of that leveling up. So the third lie we need to change is self-defeating humility. That’s the little nagging voice that says, “Who am I to think I deserve all of this abundance? Who am I to think I can succeed at something this big?” Iowans love to say “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” I think that’s great advice for doing your taxes, but dangerous as a philosophy for life. I say when your values are on your side, be daring. If the thing you are chasing is something that serves the world by bringing more love, more joy, more peace, more health or more happiness, then not only are you not being greedy by going for it all, it would be selfish to play small. The world needs us all, standing tall in our foibles and imperfections, shining bright to light the way ahead.