Best of ColoradoBiz: Feel like a fraud?
Fifty, 150, 500? I can’t even count the number of highly successful entrepreneurs, sales professionals and executives who’ve said to me, “I feel like a fraud” (or something similar). I think most of us have had this feeling at one time or another, like this extremely powerful businessman, whom I’ll call Dan.
Dan was a brilliant, well-read, successful entrepreneur and public figure who used to enjoy speaking. However, it now terrified him. The greater his success, the more he felt like a fraud and the more he feared that people would find out he was a fraud. The fear of being found out was the underlying cause of his fear of public speaking.
Everyone who felt like a fraud had a secret. What was Dan’s secret? He’d dropped out of the eighth grade, gotten a GED diploma and never attended college. Now he was in business negotiating multimillion dollar deals with Harvard MBAs, some of the most brilliant business minds in the country. His greatest fear: “What if they find out I’m an eighth grade dropout?”
You’re only as sick as your secrets! Our secrets (our shame) can manifest in all kinds of emotional or even physical symptoms, and they can block success. Dan’s fear of being discovered as a fraud was limiting his success. To overcome this fear, Dan took two courses of action:
1. Speak the truth; it will set you free. Dan revealed his life story, which was published on the front page of the business section in his city’s paper. It was about an incredibly brave, tough, underprivileged, intelligent boy who survived on the streets of the ghetto where many die. To get by, he studied martial arts and became a highly ranked karate fighter. To get off the streets and out of the ghetto, he became a voracious reader and educated himself through amazing desire, self-discipline and free library books. A true high performer!
Dan eventually built several successful businesses and became a master at putting together multimillion dollar deals with some of the country’s most financially savvy businesspeople. His published story created admiration and respect for him throughout the business community, and he no longer had any secrets. By exposing everything in the story, Dan released much of his fear.
2. Transform fear into excitement. In his second course of action, Dan completely reframed his fear from having a negative charge to a positive charge, more like excitement. Here’s how he did it: He was an adrenaline junkie who loved to rock climb, parachute, paraglide – anything physical that scared him. When I realized that, we had this conversation:
TC: “Is public speaking scary?”
Dan: “Yes, it scares the [pee] out of me!”
TC: “Great!” He looked bemused. I continued, “Let’s reframe your thinking so you view public speaking like jumping out of an airplane, something that scares you that you … love to do.”
Dan: “That’s creative – let’s do it!”
After engaging in an in-depth reframing process, he stated his new belief:
Dan: “I love public speaking – what a rush!”
We laughed. It was a unique solution to a common fear, but it worked for him!
Not long after this, Dan was invited to be a guest on Nightline, speaking to millions of people on TV. He handled the interview with grace – he’d turned his fear into strength and was more confident than ever.
Do you have secrets? Do they limit your success? Have the courage to set yourself free. Go here to learn more.