kicking impostor syndrome to the curb

there's a sabotage-inducing riot going on in your head, friend. it's quiet... and not all fun.

Our thoughts play a huge role in whether we’ll experience success or failure — they are the difference between looking forward to a happy hour and NEEDING one. 

Fixating on the wrong thoughts can cloud your vision of success, forcing you to downplay it instead of proudly shouting accomplishments of all sizes from the rooftop. (Ahem… remembering to unmute your mic on Zoom is a huge accomplishment most days.)

I don't need to tell you that the life of a musician is challenging at times, especially when navigating the business side of things. Here’s some good news, though. It is possible to be successful, with the right mindset. You'll likely need to let go of old thought patterns first. A lot of them.

Let me give it to you straight… no chaser. Impostor syndrome is like the date you met up with after a flirty exchange on some app. You believed every word they said until you began to dig a little deeper and realized they were the exact opposite of their profile. No thanks.

Remember how you got rid of them? You stopped believing the lies and moved on.

Why not do the same thing to reject the idea that all your musical talents and accomplishments are the result of some sort of dumb luck? Because they absolutely aren’t.

As we look at six mindset monsters that may be currently taking up space in your head, I hope that you'll consider this a letter of encouragement or swift kick in the pants—whatever it'll take to finally kick them to the curb once and for all.  

Mindset Monster #1: Downplaying Successes

This is classic impostor syndrome behavior, affecting men and women alike. You’ll often experience this when instead of celebrating your achievements, you feel like any moment you’ll be exposed as a fraud. This is not the case. You are not a fraud.

In these situations, remind yourself that the value you provide to your fans is being who you are… in all ways… every day. Even if thousands of other bands play the same exact venues as you, your shows will be completely different. And that is not something anyone else can copy (at least not well).

Your audience decides what’s valuable to them. Don’t take that away by not showing up! Once you accept that your special sauce is exactly what your peeps need, you’ll stop wondering “why you?” and will start saying “Hell yeah… me!”

You are uniquely qualified. Accept it.

Mindset Monster #2: Coveting The Royals, The Bachelor or Reality TV's Next Whatever

Yep, creatives can fall into this “larger than reality” trap too. Often, it's by believing that “making it” means conforming to someone else’s standards; aspiring to do, say or be like a specific mentor or industry leader. That’s bullshit. Don’t fall for it. If you’ve been around this joint for any length of time you know that I firmly believe the best way to dominate in any market is to fully lean into who you are as a uniquely created individual.

So, friend, how about if you make your own path from now on? Because doing the things you see and hear others doing is not a great strategy. It’s also not very motivating… leading you into situations you aren’t equipped to be in nor know how to leave. 

Bottom line: Whenever you believe that you don’t know how to do something and “model” your actions after someone else's, you end up thinking that anything but achieving the same results means you’ve failed. That's simply not true.

Mindset Monster #3: Being Skeptical Sally or Negative Nelly

Have you ever heard the saying “Every party has a pooper that’s why we invited you.”? Yeah… that’s not a compliment. It’s good to slow your roll in certain situations and really think things through. Heck, I’m a huge fan of doing this consistently. That’s called being a boss. My caution to you is not to let skepticism and negativity become barriers to success. Trust yourself. Trust your plan. Trust others to help you get there.

Here are three things you can do right now to stop negative thoughts from getting too comfy:

  • Get physical… even if you don’t feel like it. It’s been proven that you'll feel better once you get away from your screens and out into nature. So, go. Get your heart pumping and use energy in a different way. Focus on every stride, movement, stroke you make while out there.
  • Smile. I know that sounds simple, but have you ever smiled and not felt better afterward? I haven't! Smile at yourself, the people around you and about the things you’re able to do now that you aren’t wasting time on your negative thoughts.
  • Turn up the music. Loudly. This is one of my favorite things to do. I love to crank the tunes and jam out. My iTunes library, which can play for 15 consecutive days without a repeat, has saved my sanity more times than I can remember. 

Mindset Monster #4: Craving Others’ Opinions

Whose project is this… yours or theirs? It’s yours! Stop wasting time wondering what others think. Focus on your own thoughts. If you are happy with the work you’ve produced, then that’s all that matters.

When you do need to ask for feedback from others (promoters, agents, managers), it’s important that you remember one thing: sometimes people just aren’t good at giving it. And if you’re someone who craves others’ opinions this can be hard to handle. You may not be able to hear the good things they’re saying because you don’t believe them yourself. Resist this urge, friend. Take people at their word. And if you’re genuinely unsure, ask for clarification.

Trust your instincts. Go get yourself a celebratory beverage for all you've achieved. You deserve it. Cheers!

Mindset Monster #5: Living In The Land Of Analysis Paralysis

You put a lot on the line with every new song. I get it. But… living in the land of over analysis and evaluating situations every which way doesn’t mean you won’t have a failure or two. We all fail. Sometimes more than we’d like to admit. Don’t let fear stop you from moving forward. It’s an important part of the process. Learn from it.

In fact, I recommend acting as if a goal has already been achieved. I’m not saying “fake it until you make it.” I mean from more of a visualization standpoint. See the outcome and then go through the motions as if it’s already been crushed. Doing that enough times well guarantees that you’ll become more confident in your decisions.

In other words, get excited about doing something (anything) instead of being fearful. For example, if you’re meeting up with a venue owner for the first time, imagine it going well instead of all the things that can go wrong. You’ll end up walking into the meeting looking confident and calm instead of nervous and awkward.

Mindset Monster #6: Forgetting To Believe In Yourself

You can do it. I have faith in you. The key is to put all those childhood memories holding you back to the side and learn to believe in who you are now; push past your discomfort knowing that the other side will reward you with strength, expertise and a launchpad for growth.

Sure, #thecreativelife won’t always be rainbows and unicorns. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Trust me, I’ve likely felt everything you’re feeling. Sharing those feelings with others is one of the best ways to overcome them. Seeing that we aren’t the only one going through something provides great moments of relief—and songs your fans can relate to as well.

No matter what obstacle is in your path, from childhood or last week, know that you can overcome it. Be kind to yourself. And mean it.

Remember, friend, success isn't born from perfection. It comes from action.

Our desire for perfection can often lead us down a slippery slope of procrastination, jealousy and bitterness. Let’s stop listening to those slick ads and outrageous videos that promise to help us achieve perfection. It simply doesn't exist.

I know this might be hard to hear, but sometimes good enough is just that… good enough. It took me a long time to understand what that meant. Here’s where I’ve landed: following your creative dreams is an iterative journey, which means you can always revise and modify something at any time.

It's in your hands

Want to beat your success blockers? Admit they exist! Take a hard look at yourself. Do the work to kick those mindset monsters out of your head, then make a plan to move forward. Get some successes under your belt. The more you know what winning feels like the more you’ll want to experience it.

Here's a great way to start:

Step No. 1 >> Write down every accomplishment you can remember—big and small. Go back as far as you can. This isn’t the time to censor yourself. Everything counts, even your 5th grade science fair project blue ribbon. Own it! By doing this you will see that you have made significant achievements in your life that are worth celebrating. Hopefully, that’ll give you confidence to achieve more in the future.

Step No. 2 >> Decide how to turn some of your most prominent achievements into stories that you can use to attract the right people to you. You never know who you’ll inspire when you do.

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