Build a positive relationship with imposter syndrome

70% of people report struggling with self-confidence issues at some point in their lives.

For leaders, that number might be even higher.

The more you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, the more likely you are to be put in a situation where you start to wonder if you are capable of reaching the expectations of the role.

  • “I’m not equipped for this” 
  • “My team is dysfunctional”
  • “I’m a fraud and they are going to find out.” 

These thoughts shape our reality. 

If we subscribe to these limiting beliefs, we inadvertently set ourselves and our teams up for failure. But there is a way to flip the script.

“I went from negative to positive and it’s all good.”

This article is dedicated to all the thoughts that creep into my head and try to convince me that I wouldn’t amount to anything.

Enter the wisdom from two of my favorite books: Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way and Susan David’s Emotional Agility.

When these two combine forces they create a powerful force known by scholars and royalty as Obstacle Agility. (Or did I just make that up!)

Let’s look at how each of the three core principles of Holiday’s book:

  • Perception: How you view the obstacle.
  • Action: Your strategy to overcome it.
  • Will: The resilience to forge ahead.

So, what’s the ROI of mastering these three aspects? 

Increased team morale, less turnover, accelerated project timelines, and a considerable bump in revenue. 

Leaders with emotional agility and a constructive approach to problem-solving set themselves and their teams up for success.

Perception: How You Frame the Challenge Matters

Your viewpoint dictates not just your approach to a problem but also its eventual outcome. 

If you’re bogged down by negativity, it’s like entering a boxing ring already defeated. Why risk letting your guard down to throw punches if you are sure you’re going to lose? 

Holiday emphasizes that altering your perception of a challenge is the first step to conquering it. 

Your assignment is to look at every problem as an opportunity for growth, a puzzle to be solved, or a chance to showcase your team’s abilities.

Action: From Thoughts to Reality

Once your perception is tuned for success, action follows. 

But here’s the catch—action isn’t just about moving; it’s about moving right. So, how do you steer your actions toward success? Here, Susan David’s concept of Emotional Agility comes into play. She makes it crystal clear: “Your thoughts are just thoughts.” They are not a life sentence. 

A critical aspect of emotional agility is to recognize these thoughts for what they are and choose actions that align with your values and goals. It is the leader’s responsibility to set the tone for the team. If you think your team can’t achieve a goal, your actions will mirror this belief, manifesting in uninspiring leadership behaviors like micromanagement, lack of feedback, and absence of development opportunities for your team.

This is not what you want! You want to be resilient! 

Imagine if Biggie Smalls looked at posters of Salt N Pepa and Heavy D in their limousine but never took action building his own rap career.

His dreams would have never become a reality. 

Once your perception is tuned for success, action follows. 

But here’s the catch—action isn’t just about moving; it’s about moving right. So, how do you steer your actions toward success? Here, Susan David’s concept of Emotional Agility comes into play. She makes it crystal clear: “Your thoughts are just thoughts.” They are not a life sentence. 

A critical aspect of emotional agility is to recognize these thoughts for what they are and choose actions that align with your values and goals. It is the leader’s responsibility to set the tone for the team. If you think your team can’t achieve a goal, your actions will mirror this belief, manifesting in uninspiring leadership behaviors like micromanagement, lack of feedback, and absence of development opportunities for your team.

This is not what you want! You want to be resilient! 

Imagine if Biggie Smalls looked at posters of Salt N Pepa and Heavy D in their limousine but never took action building his own rap career.

His dreams would have never become a reality. 

Will: The Resilience to See It Through

If perception and action are the vehicles driving you toward overcoming obstacles, ‘Will’ is the fuel that keeps them running. 

Will is your resilience, your grit. It is taking a project across the finish line. 

But willpower isn’t just an innate trait; it can be cultivated. As a leader, you can make it a habit by celebrating small wins and using setbacks as learning experiences. 

Showing resilience doesn’t mean you have all the answers; it means you’re committed to finding them, no matter how challenging the path might be. 

Resilient leaders can:

  • Bounce back from setbacks
  • Remain calm under pressure
  • Adapt to changing circumstances
  • Sustain their energy level under pressure
  • Cope with disruptive changes
  • Keep going in the face of adversity

It is a big deal.

What else?

Leadership isn’t about having all the answers but about asking the right questions. What’s the obstacle? How do you perceive it? What actions will you take, and how resilient are you willing to be?

Once you master this inner game, you’ll find that the external challenges, no matter how daunting, become infinitely more manageable.

Also, huge thanks for all the replies to my emails in the last couple of weeks. Keep them coming! I’m excited to start talking about Conflict Resolution in the next few weeks!

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit JacobEspinoza.com.

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