Imposter Syndrome Part 2: Learning from dinosaurs, being uncomfortable, and why it’s okay to suck

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Last week’s issue was on Imposter Syndrome. As I put it together, I realized there were more ideas I wanted to share with you than I could fit into one issue.

If you missed it, here’s a thread on the high points:

My goal with this newsletter is to keep it to three insights per issue, so it’s easier to digest.

So here are three more ideas to consider when you’re struggling to understand or overcome Imposter Syndrome.

Insight 1: A Buffer Against Fossilization.

Have you ever talked to a dinosaur?

I mean an “industry expert” or college professor who hasn’t updated their ideas in 30 years.

Their thinking has fossilized, and because they never question themselves or update their ideas, they’ve become arrogantly ignorant.

They definitely don’t have Imposter Syndrome. But that’s part of their problem.

Seth Godin says a dash of Imposter Syndrome–questioning ourselves and our abilities–is a good thing.

“It means you care enough to be better than you are.”

In moderation, Imposter Syndrome keeps us honest. It reminds us to question our competence and drives us to evolve.

The best way to keep from fossilizing?

Instead of expecting yourself to have all the answers, focus on being a lifelong learner. Go deeper into your own areas of interest, or branch out to new ones.

If you’re looking for a few book recommendations, here are my top three on how to live a better life.

Insight 2: You’re Supposed to Be Uncomfortable.

In this “day in the life” video Ali Abdaal walks through his day leading up to an interview on Steven Bartlett’s show, The Diary of a CEO.

Ali is a physician with over 2 million YouTube subscribers and reportedly made $1,362,000 across all income streams in 2020.

Steven is an investor and entrepreneur reportedly worth around $100 million.

Both guys have a track record for success and are big names in their respective circles. So you’d think they would be immune to Imposter Syndrome.

They’re not.

After the interview, Ali asks Steven about his perspective on Imposter Syndrome.

“You’re supposed to be uncomfortable…You should live your entire life one step outside of your comfort zone,” said Steven.

Remember those dinosaurs? They spend their entire lives inside their comfort zone. They never grow. They never evolve.

Are you uncomfortable?


It means you’re pushing yourself to grow.

Insight 3: It’s Okay to Suck. It’s Not Okay to Suffer for It.

Most of us experience Imposter Syndrome when we make what psychologists call, upward social comparisons.

Basically, we compare our current selves to someone we believe is somehow “higher” or “better” than us.

Let’s say you’re writing a book. Your first draft will be complete garbage compared to the published works of your favorite author.

But here’s the thing: you’re supposed to suck at first.

In On Writing, Steph King talks about how he hung all his rejection letters on a nail in his room until they were too heavy for the nail to hold up.

His solution?

“I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

If you keep showing up, embrace lifelong learning, and do the work, you’ll eventually suck less.

But sometimes, no matter how little you suck at something, you can’t quite shake feeling like an Imposter.

If that’s you, you’re in luck.

Nick Wignall, a fellow psychologist, has a great article on practical strategies to overcome Imposter Syndrome.

One of my favorite quotes from his article is:

“It’s not feeling like an imposter that’s the problem. It’s feeling bad for feeling like an imposter that keeps you miserable.”

We all want to become the best versions of ourselves and put out our best work.

But when we expect too much of ourselves, we hyper-focus on our flaws and our insecurities run rampant–which prevents us from becoming our best selves or putting out great work.

So when your inner critic gets a little too loud, remember:

A little self-compassion goes a long way.

Question for the Week

Would you rather embrace discomfort and evolve, or stay in your comfort zone and fossilize?

Insights in Action

One of the best ways to clarify your thinking is to write it out.

So if you want to develop your thinking on this question or start applying insights from today’s newsletter, send a tweet to @CoreyWilksPsyD with your thoughts and put #BuildingBlocks at the end so I can find it.

Not ready to “think in public” yet? No problem. You can also reply to this email if you want to share your thoughts with me.

Until next time,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Certified Professional Coach