A nation’s culture resides in the heart and in the soul of its people. Mahatma Gandhi
We live in a society where others’ standards set social and cultural ‘norms’ and expectations.
Size of your home.
Shape of your car.
Balance of your bank account.
Career ladders and pay packets.
With 9–5 jobs the accepted route to strive for these life ‘norms’.
Those Setting These ‘Norms’ Wield Power To Influence.
And this produces positive results. Some that congeal social fabric.
And negative ones witnessed with the rise of dictators, power-hungry leaders, terrorists and home-grown bullies bent on exerting their will.
The Hutus and Tutsis once lived in peace.
Until those wielding power used their influence to create a social and economic hierarchy that decimated families and culture.
All to re-set social norms according to a new oligarchy.
Influence is power.
And living within a society set by cultural norms means our own power can slip without noticing.
Until one senses doubt.
And feels the fear of creating a change in life circumstances without the nod of accepted norms.
Families and culture have a powerful pull.
Fanatical religious communities magnify similarities and denounce difference.
Political agendas divide society.
Social causes can split communities into tribes.
I See It In People With Whom I Work.
People wanting to set out on bold new journeys, yet no longer trust themselves.
People who doubt they’re good enough (when measured against social norms of beauty, wealth and success).
People caught between pushing themselves forward while simultaneously resisting the pull to be the ‘type’ of person who gains success.
In popular writing — it’s called procrastination and/or perfectionism.
Their roots entwined with ‘imposter syndrome’.
It’s the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t mindset of fearing failure while battling the internal nagging voice of: “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!!!”.
The amount written around this phenomenon suggests we have an epidemic.
Yet, it feels normalised.
Articles showing us ‘five steps to overcome procrastination’ abound.
Who doesn’t see a part of themselves there at some stage when a big decision looms?
For many worry and doubt are the new ‘norms’. Searching for the elusive ‘ideal’ keeps them in a looped pattern of existence. Never good enough.
Never were, never will be.
Indecision Monitors a Never-Ending Holding Pattern.
Rigged to fail by never starting or finishing anything. Doing ‘busy work’ that adds nothing to the goal.
Flight pattern on indefinite hold while hoping for the accolades that go hand-in-hand with success.
In Tribal Times, Going Against Group Norms Meant Being Excommunicated.
A virtual death sentence. The group provided safety, food and acceptance where a person’s most basic needs were met.
Maslow’s hierarchy in practice.
The trouble starts with an individual questioning the group’s norms.
Wanting more power and influence — all steps along the way to self-actualisation. To becoming the ultimate version of self.
The everyday person keeps the doubt hidden. Silences the inner heartbeat that wants to soar. Harbours the out-of-control feelings.
You’re Not Alone
Thankfully those who’ve ‘stepped through the door’ have shared their battle and proven the insidious nature of fear and doubt — the terminal ‘imposter syndrome’ all perfectionists and procrastinators relate to — can be overcome.
Maya Angelou, prolific writer, said this:
‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’
Kate Winslett says it this way:
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”
Here’s The Pattern:
“You can have all the confidence in the world and still be reluctant to self-promote out of a steadfast belief that a person’s work should speak for itself. It doesn’t.”
― Valerie Young, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
Valerie Young, writes about this. She created five subgroups of the imposter syndrome: the perfectionist, the superwoman/man, the natural genius, the rugged individualist and the expert.
5 takes on the same trait.
The one who self-sabotages and shies away from the battle of self-versus-exposure that anyone who dares stretch beyond must fight the good fight one day to break free from.
So you doubt yourself.
You feel unworthy, not good enough.
You control your life, avoiding help because ‘you can nut this out yourself’.
You stew about what others think.
You micromanage until hitting overwhelm (then wonder why you feel alone in anything you do).
And then you blame yourself for giving up (easier to blame yourself and name-call — than wait for someone else to do it). You keep learning because ‘obviously’ you don’t know enough (otherwise you’d be successful now). You wait for others to ‘crown’ you so you don’t have to self-promote (what an icky thing to do). You start with joy, hit a tough spot and wonder why it isn’t you finally hurdling the challenge. You get up, you fall. You grind your teeth and smile while your insides just want to give up and go home — pillow-time sounds safe. You look at others getting results and can’t see what’s so different about them. You look at yourself and wonder what’s going on — what universe is working against you?
It’s The Same Pattern. Over And Over Again.
Most give up. The energy takes too great a toll. Time seems against you. Another birthday. Another set of goals ear-marked for next year. Always … next time …
The Eternal Question: When Will It Be ‘Your Time’.
Truth? It’s now.
It’s always been ‘now’.
Even though doubt is bigger than you feel at this point, your time is now.
#1. It’s Time To Leverage ‘Now’ and Be the Person You’re Meant To Be
Opportunities offer two paths: the fast lane and the slow one.
The slow one is safe, sure and steady.
There’ll be no zero-to-hero stories here because this is the training ground of all who aim to influence, to write, to create and to become the person they believe is waiting for them.
This is the apprenticeship.
The 10,000 hours of practice Malcolm Gladwell made famous.
And This is the Sticking Point.
Malcolm Gladwell didn’t come up with the 10,000 hour rule — he caused it go viral because of the platform he writes for — The New Yorker.
The New Yorker is a river — a raging torrent carrying voices of those who’ve mastered their 10,000 hours.
And Medium is the same — a place for writers with voices to share their world, their views, their experiences and in the joining of all this — find meaning.
Today, you may be feeding a shallow creek, which may feel dried out from a long drought. This can change …
In Australia, Drought is a Way of Life.
Generations of rural families work the land and raise cattle knowing that weather cycles could bring them to the point of bankruptcy.
Many wonder why they continue.
Yet they wait. Knowing the rain will come and with it enough abundance to live on for years.
They lean into patterns. Plan for lean times. And in those moments of being swept up in the next big river (or flood) work side-by-side with an unpredictable force: nature.
And here’s the kicker: responding to the river means making changes fast. Crops. Breeds. Land Management.
All evolves and changes over time as human needs morph, as weather patterns change, as time bakes a track in the creek you may be drifting in.
#2: Find Your River
“I like geography best, he said, because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.”
― Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas
Trends are what we watch, monitor and adjust to. The patterns of living. Gearing ourselves in seasonal drape to connect with the changing pace of living.
I had a dream recently.
No, not a Martin Luther King type one. More an image that came to me — as they often do when I’m nutting out a problem (or writing an article).
Of standing on a sandy beach, ready to step into the ocean.
And every time I did, waves rose and dumped me back on shore.
Each time, I ventured out I feared the wave — so much so that I didn’t have the nerve to get past the break and avoid the inevitable sand-in-mouth dump. (Painful memories from childhood.)
It was a force tugging me under. Up felt down. A disorienting scramble for air.
#3. See The Pattern You’ve Been Running For Years
Fear of being dumped stopped me going for what I wanted.
I’d set myself up to avoid the pain. So I didn’t swim with the fast-start energy needed to push past the first set of waves.
The one that would inevitably push me back to shore.
This dream-image changed me.
The energy needed to create movement is gi-normous.
Like a machine left to rust, its gears have a limited range. They need oiling. They need working.
They need to keep going otherwise they’ll grind to a stop again.
Same as a car with a dead battery. It needs a ‘jump start’.
After starting, it can’t be turned off as it’ll go flat again. It needs its motor running to sustain its energy.
Rest is the last thing it needs. But what it most probably wants.
It’s what most of us need at one time: a reality jolt that jump-starts our engines.
#4. Choose The Ultimate Battle: Between What You Need To Do, And What You Want To Do.
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” John Wooden
The hope of achieving success without pain or energy expended.
Yet, if you can resist the temptation and pour your energy into your dream, asking your muscles to fight through the resistance — something natural happens.
Newton’s first law of motion: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Once you push yourself, your boat or your dinghy into the ocean, plan that you’re not going back.
There’ll be no more dumping back on shore for you.
#5. Watch The Tide. Wait For The Right Moment.
“Life is like the sea. Its tides and currents sometimes take a man to distant shores that he never dreamed existed”
― Jocelyn Murray, The English Pirate
And launch yourself. With the energy of a titan. Paddle fast. Swim with a stroke that will sustain you.
And never look back.
Only forward. To the endless sea that moves in rhythm with the moon. Drawing back only to push forward again.
A tidal life.
Use the momentum of the tide to lift you and in this space remember …
… creeks and rivers all reach the ocean, a great lake … the velvet smooth sea of your dreams.
Imposter syndrome is dead. Bury it before hitting the river.
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