“It’s a small little idea that you found that everyone had stepped over again and again, but you picked up and had a wonder.” – Azul Terronez
If you live uniquely and authentically, you may find that, one day, you don’t fit into other people’s boxes of who they think you should be.
When you come to this realization, what path will you take? Will you diminish yourself to become more like others? Or will you choose to live fully as yourself?
Leslie Ehm grew up in a household that valued uniqueness — with a family that encouraged her to do and be anything she wanted. And this “swagger,” as she calls it, helped bring many magical experiences and opportunities into her life.
On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” Leslie talks about her book, “Swagger: Unleash Everything You Are and Become Everything You Want,” and how she discovered her true purpose.
The Power of Radical Vulnerability
Leslie has been called “better than therapy,” “a rock star,” “ass-kicking,” “a force of nature,” and even a witch.
And she’s here for ALL of it.
Through her award-winning company, Combustion, the television-host-turned-training-guru has transformed technologists into creative forces, bankers into storytellers, and has brought a serious dose of badass-ness to boardrooms everywhere by educating corporate executives around the world.
In her work, she realized they were holding themselves back. Some felt they weren’t good enough, while others doubted they could reveal themselves and still succeed. But once Leslie created an environment where everyone could allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of their coworkers, it created powerful connections and life-changing moments.
How to Beat Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome feeds off the idea that who we are couldn’t possibly be good enough to impress anyone.
During our interview, Leslie recalls a time when she walked into a room and felt like everyone else was smarter and more successful than her. When we do this to ourselves, we think we have nothing to offer.
But after researching “imposter syndrome,” Leslie found that, more likely than not, nearly everyone else in that room with her was thinking the same thing — and she realized that we make that choice to doubt ourselves.
The worst advice she has ever heard is, “Fake it ’til you make it” — because you are faking your own confidence. This not only robs you of the ability to gain true confidence, but also of competence in your area of expertise.
If we’re in the mindset of fake confidence, we feel we can’t ask for help or direction.
The Five ‘Swagger Blockers’
In her book, there are five resistance points that Leslie calls “swagger blockers.” Let’s dive into them:
Persona – You feel you have to talk, walk, or behave a certain way in order to meet societal norms.
Ambition – Striving for success can make you behave in ways that you wouldn’t normally act. When you are looking inward, and not upward, you won’t be distracted by what your peers or followers are doing.
Insecurity – Constantly asking ourselves “What if?” keeps our brains in a worst-case-scenario, negative mind loop.
Fear – The answer to “What if?” Fear says that bad things will happen, and our brains can’t tell the difference between public speaking nerves and a tiger about to eat us.
Pain – If you find yourself stuck in your tracks, it may be because pain tells us that being creative or taking risks is a terrible idea.
These five “swagger blockers” are, collectively, what I call “The Committee.”
These are the voices in our heads that create imposter syndrome and resistance in our lives. We need to understand and tackle these obstacles if we are going to live authentically. Your unique voice is what the world needs to hear.
As you face imposter syndrome while writing your book, keep in mind my three biggest takeaways from my discussion with Leslie:
What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? How does imposter syndrome show up in your life? Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. Get rid of any swagger blockers in your life, and start writing today!
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