Early in my career, I stood listening to Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett – some of the biggest stars of the day – as they explained their vision for a new concept band, Gorillaz.
Damon lay across the mixing decks as he spoke and as I stood staring at him, I was gripped with the most intense sense of imposter syndrome I’d ever experienced.
What was I doing there?
What were any of us doing there?
We’d only been in business for a few months and here we were, being asked to create a website and online space for Gorillaz by Damon ‘yes that Damon from Blur’ Albarn.
Imposter syndrome can strike even the most confident of people – and it’s no different for authors.
Here’s the thing: it’s rare your fear is founded in reality.
So how do you overcome imposter syndrome?
I am currently penning a non-fiction book about the challenges of running a business based on my experience of the past 20 years… and my previous experience with Gorillaz is really relevant.
I took a hard look not only at my own expertise and experience. I told myself that whatever I was feeling, they’d come to us for a reason.
I’d worked in the Internet since the very beginning, I had huge amounts of value to add.
I had to separate out how I felt from what was actually true.
The previous line bears re-reading. Separate out how you feel from what is actually true.
The more I think about it, the more I’m sure this is key for everyone, authors included, in overcoming imposter syndrome.
There is an objective truth that isn’t clouded by your own skewed perspective and baggage.
As I listened to them talk, I realised that I wasn’t Daman Albarn or Jamie Hewlett and I didn’t have their talents… but crucially, I realised I didn’t need to. They needed something else from me.
There and then, I changed the script in my head. Everyone starts somewhere, everyone is constantly moving on and progressing, even famous stars. At some point in their lives, Damon and Jamie had struggled to know how to deal with things, too. They’d felt out of their depth and they’d pushed through it.
I took a deep breath and visualised success. I saw myself confidently answering their questions and chatting to them, person to person – and it worked.
As they launched the band, their online presence and website was launched and developed by us.
It was an amazing experience and one I’m incredibly proud of but it also taught me a hugely valuable lesson to trust what other people saw in me, even if I didn’t always see it myself.
It’s come full circle now and I use these lessons in my business life.
Imposter syndrome can strike even the most confident of people.
We often see it rear its head when published and yet-to-be published authors venture onto social media to build their influence.
Even the ones who are excited and gung-ho about building their profiles get a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment when they first start posting on social media.
Who am I to be posting my opinion online?
Look at all of these well-established authors, agents and publishers getting hundreds of likes whenever they post anything… what could I possibly have to offer?
What if I get it wrong?
Here’s my advice. Listen to the ‘voice in your head’ telling you the negative stuff, thank it for its opinion and get on with the business of being successful.
PS: We’re here to offer all the help, advice and tips you need. When the AuthorSpark app launches, you’ll have a daily app, providing daily support and ideas – but the first step has to come from you. Believe you can do it and we’ll help you do the rest.
About The Author
Andrew has been at the forefront of the digital industry for his entire career. His expertise dates back to the birth of the web and he has a keen eye for what’s coming next. He launched We Are Togethr 17 years ago and made the decision to completely pivot from a social media agency to SaaS advocacy platform ahead of the curve. Before We Are Togethr, Andrew was co-founder of award-winning digital consultancy Getfrank, leading projects for Channel 4 and EMI (eg Gorillaz) and a Senior Editor at AOL UK developing online communities before the advent of social media. Andrew has consulted for numerous brands globally in his career including: Haagen Dazs, Air Mauritius China and Saatchi & Saatchi.