Overcoming the Imposter syndrome 1% at a time!

Rob O’Donohue

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I have a confession to make! I had never listened to a single podcast until late 2012. Sure, I had heard of a ‘podcast’ but didn’t really know what it was. Isn’t that just the same as radio? I remember thinking! So, I decided to do a bit of digging into what these podcasts were all about. I’m not sure if someone had recommended one to me or if the curiosity got the better of me, but I downloaded the Apple Podcast App (since then it has become a pre-installed app on the iPhone). By luck, not design, I stumbled across a podcast called ‘Stuff You Should Know’. It had me at hello, or maybe at ‘should know’. I remember vividly listening to an episode while out for a 5km run, and I was hooked. Not just by this episode (I recall it was about the Berlin Wall) but more about the possibilities that I had available to me with podcasts. I had the opportunity to learning on the run, literally. I quickly realized that I had a mobile university in my ears and it was, for the most part, free!

Fast forward to late 2016. As I continued to enjoy listening or consuming shows, I was still struck by how many of my friends and people I’d talk with were unaware of the value that podcasts could bring. These folks were missing out! So, with some blind optimism, I started to investigate what I needed to do to create one myself. Switching roles from consumer to producer. With the bold simple vision of creating a podcast that could help others learn, improve, and grow through the stories of others. This was my fledgling idea and was enough to get me started!

While this a very exciting time, figuring out everything and anything I needed to do to pull this off, it was also a period where I felt paralyzed with fear. I remember (and still hear it regularly but much less) the negative self-talk raging. The questions coming up were something like ‘who do you think you are to create a podcast?’, ‘you’re a nobody?’, ‘what do you have to say to share?’, and ‘who’s going to listen to you?’ to name just a few! I’m probably keeping the language extra clean here. My inner gremlin has a colourful turn of phrase.

I’ve since learned that this is commonly known as ‘the Imposter syndrome!’ Well, ironically enough, thanks to the power & insights I gleamed from listening to podcasts that talked about this condition, I pushed through, felt the fear and did it anyway.

Right & Left Brain in action
Over the months that followed, I got it done. Firstly, I spent a lot of time getting clear on my Why. This took a lot of right brain work, getting clear on the purpose, vision and mission. That’s where the 1% Better idea became clear. My aim was, and is, to create a show where every episode has the best content I can put together that consistently provides listeners be with insights, tools, tips to help them get a little bit better. I’m a poor man’s Tim Ferriss if you will, with slightly more hair. (Tim, if you’re reading this, I hope your stoic view of the world will see this as a joke!)

With the why clear, I then focused on the How and the What. I put a detailed plan together. My background is in project management. This helped hugely. Setting a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) can be the easy part. Implementing it is what normally gets in the way. Setting the launch date was key! Telling others about it held me accountable to myself! I recall, as the project gained momentum, and I started to record my first interviews, my confidence grew. I was learning so much. About production, editing, interviewing, and most importantly, myself.

Then in early March 2017, one week ahead of scheduled, after many long hours, definitely lots of sweat, a few tears, (can’t recall if there was any blood spilt other than pricking my finger to check glucose levels) and definitely learning to overcome the embarrassment of the sound of your own voice, I launched my first set of shows. It was out in the public domain. It felt good. Another syndrome, that my boss at work liked to call ‘perfection being the enemy of good enough’ was strong during this time too. But the momentum was fierce and the date was set so it was time to go-live. Waiting for it to be perfect was not an option.

My original goal for the show was to do thirty in 2017. I ended the year with fifty. The journey had lead me to chat with World Champions, World Record Holders, Magicians, Entrepreneurs, a Clairaudience (look it up), a Social Media Strategist, and one of Ireland’s best-known Chef’s (thanks Neven). That’s just to call out a few. With One hundred hours of content released, I had learned so much about topics such as Business, Start-ups, Meditation, Mindfulness, Developing Habits, Morning Routines and even people’s earliest memories. It’s been an awesome experience.

Lessons Learned & Success
I started out this podcast voyage with a few personal goals in mind. Give something back to the podcast world that has helped me learn & keep fit over the last few years. By devouring hours of podcast content, I believe I have developed new habits and practices that have made me more confident and more willing to push through fears and set BHAGs for myself. I’ve confronted the imposter syndrome head on by putting the content out there. What once was a loud voice inside my head, is now hardly audible at all. All this shows that if you set the goal, work out a plan to get there, be resilient and stick the course, you can achieve it. Whatever IT is. It’s a simple enough message to write, much harder to execute but it can be done.

In my performance coaching work, one of the tools I find the simplest yet more powerful is the Action Learning Cycle. Taking Action to set up my own show has continued that Learning cycle for myself and moved things to the next level. In parallel, I’ve made connections with people I would never have otherwise. I’ve also been able to share these stories with thousands of others across the globe, received emails from folks that have benefited from hearing the struggles and victories of others. And maybe in some ways they have become that 1% better as a result.

In one of the episodes, a guest turned the success question I ask back on me. What is success for me? I didn’t have to think too much. In that moment, the conversation I was having with the guest was success. I was taking action and learning simultaneously. It was aligned to my why, how and what.