Day 1,049 – Thankful for the Upside of Impostor Syndrome; Invoking Interrogative Self-Talk

Have you ever had that feeling that you weren’t good enough to do a certain thing, been a certain group, or coach a specific topic?  What was it about each moment that caused you to feel that way?  How have you responded in that situation?

I’d love to say that my post today is all rosy and full of successes, but it’s really not.  The road to today’s blog is littered with mistakes, missed opportunities, and lost moments.  Each of those missteps are exactly why I’m thankful for Impostor Syndrome today.

Before reading the book Presence by Amy Cuddy I thought I was about the only person in the world who felt like they’d been promoted too fast, trusted with too much responsibility, and were given so much more than was earned.  I’d sometimes count luck as my biggest reason for success and was nervous about being “found out” at some totally inopportune moment.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that it wasn’t just me!

When reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography my jaw dropped when he explained the way a concert performance fell totally flat.  As he described the thought process it was like he’d spent time in my head.  Bruce said (totally paraphrasing here) that he kept thinking about how he didn’t belong in front of the audience, how much he was screwing up, what a poor performance he was doing.  By the end he’d basically worked himself into a meltdown of negativity.  Each sentence hit me right between the eyes as this was how I’ve often felt when giving a presentation, training a group of peers, and so on.  My mind was blown that even The Boss has tangoed with Imposter Syndrome!

So where am I going with all of this?  After I learned about Imposter Syndrome I’ve worked at ways of stopping it.  Some are preventative and some cut it down as it strikes.  For a variety of reasons I’ve had the opportunities to battle it lately, and I’m so thankful for each of them.  In each case it was an opportunity for me to become stronger, to hone my skill, and to practice ways to keep my mind focused in the right direction.

The tool that I use as a defense when something hits my “IS” tripwire is interrogative self-talk.  Daniel Pink brought it to my attention in his wonderful book To Sell Is Human.  This is a great tool to aid my focus.  Instead of saying “I am smart enough” or any other statement that I must force myself to believe I put it into a question.  “Do I belong here at this moment?”

When asking this question my brain is forced to answer.  I don’t like losing so my mind often says “yes.”  But that’s not enough as I’m also smart enough to call BS on myself and smell the false sense of bravado.  Then I have to dig deeper…  “Why do I belong here at this moment?”  That one gets more difficult.  It causes me to think of the hard work I’ve put in.  I’m reminded of the studying and training I’ve been doing.  Past experiences (good and bad) rush into my memory and I can quickly start to see why I belong here.

Imposter Syndrome is like a schoolyard bully.  He seems all bad and tough until you punch him back in the nose.  Once you fight back he leaves you alone.  Instead of throwing punches I throw interrogative self-talk logic bombs at Imposter Syndrome until it runs for the hills.

Sure, sometimes I don’t put up the good fight and I lose.  There are times when I ask if I belong here and the answer is “NO” when I think deeply about it.  Regardless, I’m definitely winning more often than not.

And that’s why I’m thankful for Imposter Syndrome today.  It really sucks until you figure out what it is and how to beat it.  Once I learned to start swinging back by thinking about why I belong there at that moment my overall self-confidence has continued to grow.  IS still helps to keep me humbled, but every opportunity I have to face it is one more time I have the opportunity to get stronger.


It kind of reminds me of a quote by a famous philosopher…

“You can’t win, Impostor Syndrome. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Ben Kenobi



Day 1,048 – Thankful for Snuggle Time On the Couch with Becky

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  They might not always seem blog-worthy as they happen more often or they are so simple they can easily be taken for granted.


The boys are up at my mom’s to hang out for a few days and have some great grandparent time like my little brother and I used to have.  Between them being out of town and Becky and I having gotten everything else for the weekend done we found ourselves snuggled up on the couch watching TV.  Nothing crazy, nothing deep, nothing intellectual.  Just the two of us cuddled up on the couch relaxing.

Moments like this bring a huge smile to my face as it’s time to just relax and enjoy the presence of Becky.  Normally these moments happen when our brains are a little frazzled after a long day of adulting.  To have it be a chill moment of peace is pretty awesome and greatly appreciated!  No stress, no worries, no pressure, just chillin’.


Day 1,047 – Thankful for Places That Feel Like Home

There are a handful of places that have a very special place in my heart.  When I am in each of those places it always feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at that exact moment in time – they each feel like I’m home.  Some of them are pretty straightforward, The Big Island, New Zealand, Iceberg Lake, Copper Harbor, and my home.  Others are much more all encompassing, anywhere with Becky and/or the boys.  Today I was reminded of one that really doesn’t quite fit with the rest.

A couple of days ago I got a call that our lawn mower had been repaired.  When I heard the voicemail I smiled and started looking forward to my upcoming road trip to Brownsville, MN.  All of our small engine repairs (as well as our storage) are done with Al at Al’s Small Engine and Whitesitt Storage.  Ever since we met Al after buying our pontoon he’s our go to person when we have something to store or a small engine repair that’s outside of my comfort zone.


When I loaded up in the car this morning to head to pick up our lawn mower I felt a kind of crazy sensation, I felt like I was going home.  Weird, right?  Who would ever think that driving 20 minutes to a small engine mechanic who is completely unrelated to you would ever feel like going home?  But to me that’s totally what it felt like.

It sank in while driving when I realized I had a huge smile on my face.  I paused for a moment and pondered why I would be so excited to drive this far when I do it all the time for work and it sometimes feels so tiresome.  As I thought about it I caught myself smiling, listening to great music, and it just felt like I was going home.  There’s really no better way to explain it.  Something in my gut felt like I was going exactly where I was supposed to be at that exact moment.  The same way it feels every time I head that way.  It doesn’t matter whether I’m driving solo like I was today or with company as I ave done that past few times.

The beautiful drive along the river seems so natural.  There’s a feeling of getting away from reality and the busy-ness of life to get back to a slower time.  It’s like there’s no agenda, no next steps, to task list.  When I’m on the road there time stops and I’m totally calm.  There is no stress or worry.  Heck, I even catch myself going the speed limit instead of my normal speed!

Once I get to Al’s it’s this weird crossing of realities.  In so many ways when I am talking with Al it seems as if I’m talking to some of my favorite parts of some of my favorite people.  Al has a laid back yet, incredibly positive, happy go lucky nature.  When talking with hime he has the old school style of speech that reminds me of my dad.  When talking with him I feel like he’s interacting the same way as my dad would when we’d run errands on Saturday mornings when my mom was working.  His shop reminds me of my Grandpa Lamping’s workshop and when he talks about projects he’s working on it makes me think of Grandpa.  There’s also a quick and dry sense of humor mixed with old school values that so much reminds me of my Grandma Lamping.  He always seems so happy to spend time with everyone, a trait that reminds me of how welcome I always felt with Grandma Lamping.  Put all these traits together and it feels like I’m heading home when I go to his shop in Brownsville.

Weird and strange, but in a very wonderful way.  I’m so thankful for those moments and places when it feels like I’m going home.  They’re truly joyful moments.


Day 1,046 – Thankful for Sensations of Nature Before the World Wakes Up

This morning I headed out with the girls to enjoy a nice walk to kick off the day. We were out the door shortly after 4:55am while it seemed like most of the world was still sleeping.

Once we got to our normal spot we walked in cool and dewy air under the light of the stars. While the girls ran and smelled I could fee my entire body relax. My senses were surrounded by so many wonderful things as I walked in the stillness of the dark. It seemed as if almost each of my senses got their own special treat (except taste for the obvious reasons).

My eyes enjoyed the stars above and the way the little bit of light reflected off the very still river. As the sky brightened there was a low lying fog that added a bit of surrealism. While looking back to check on the dogs I happened to catch a falling star (& made the requisite wish).

My ears heard so many different birds calling out more and more frequently as the dark slowly dissolved. There was also a sound of relative silence that was so peaceful compared to all of the noise that there would be once everyone else woke up.

My skin loved the feeling of cool air. There were pockets of even cooler air that I’d walk through and the sensation of going into and out of those short spots was amazing. The air had just a little bit of dampness and dew to it, it added to great feeling.

My nose enjoyed so many different smells. The funny thing is that I couldn’t even tell you exactly what they were. That said, I’d describe some as Spring, some as Summer, and some as Fall. As I moved along the road the smells would change and fade almost constantly.

While walking in the stillness of morning it helped me set my mind and attitude to the right channel for the day. A few times my mind wandered back to the calm of that walk and I could feel myself relax. In those moments I would pause and do a short checklist of what each sense picked up from the walk and I get more calm, in control, and on the right track.


Day 1,045 – Thankful for Learning From Past Mistakes and the People Who Remind Me of Them

In one of his books Jim Collins describes what happens when people are rock climbing and they get to a spot where the rock isn’t very stable.  Human nature causes you to grip on even tighter to the handholds you already have.  In doing so you can cause the rock to break loose.  What you should do is loosen your grip a little, pause, observe your surroundings, and choose and alternate path – even if it means going back down a little.

That story really resonates with me as I have really noticed my tendencies to go back to the same behaviors when stressed.  My natural reaction and the correct reaction are not the same things so I am continuing to work on being self aware in those moments.  While still feeling very unnatural I’ve already seen this pause and respond approach help lead me down the right path.

For instance, with a current work situation I would normally hire someone immediately to check it off the list.  As I caught myself wanting to do that again I paused and decided to wait for the right candidate instead.  Even though I so badly wanted to bring someone on earlier the pause caused us to find an awesome new teammate.  It was well worth the wait!

Over the past month or so there have been many moments in which I can feel my natural instinct start to kick in.  While I’ve been able to catch myself on several occasions there have been more times when a teammate has gone out of their comfort zone to help me see I was about to make a mistake again.  How awesome is that?  I am so thankful to have a team who is not afraid of telling their boss that he is wrong or about to make a mistake.  Without their help I would’ve stubbed my toes way more often!  There’s something so calming about knowing that I am surrounded by people who are willing to have a potentially awkward conversation to help our team be more successful.  At every turn these conversations have been respectful, professional, appreciated, accurate, and, quite often, have helped to strengthen our relationships.

I really like being right, being wrong bugs me terribly.  That said, I am thankful for making mistakes, they help me see I am continuing to push outside of my comfort zone.  As long as I learn from them they help me grow.  I’m also so grateful for teammates who help remind me of those mistakes in a positive way to help our team.  They help to make sure I remember the lessons learned.

Why did I choose this picture?  This was when I learned that we should never use metal shovels while making snow forts…  It reminds me to pause and look before taking action.


Day 1,044 – Thankful for a Jam Packed Day

Quite often I catch myself thinking that it would be great if life just slowed down a little bit.  Maybe it’d be nice to not have stuff going on constantly.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have time to just lay down and do nothing.  Perhaps a day with nothing on the calendar.

Today has been quite the opposite.  I woke early to take the dogs for a walk.  Next I was off to work.  The work day was pretty much non-stop except for the 20 minute break to go for a walk.  At home I changed, started some laundry, put up the border in Gavin’s room, picked up Gavin, ate supper, moved much of his stuff back into his room, and am now blogging.  After this I plan on taking a few minutes to read and then crash for the night before waking up early to do it all again tomorrow.

As I started with, I often take days like this and think about how nice it would be to slow down.  Today I think I finally have my head in the right place and I’m just rolling with it.  Instead of getting frustrated I’m appreciating how wonderful it feels to be productive, how excellent it is to be able to help others, and thankful I am to have the opportunity to do so many things I enjoy doing and am able to do.  Long story short, I’m thankful to be alive today and for each moment and connection I shared with others today.

While moving Gavin’s dresser a song popped into my head and I let it repeat a couple of times…  “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” by Travis Tritt.  It just kind of hit the nail on the head.  Any day is a great day to be alive.  Sure, not everything’s gone the way I would like today, but I definitely had more than my fair share of joy and good fortune.



Day 1,043 – Thankful for Hanging Out with My Friend Kathy Having an Enlightening Conversation

Day 1,043 – Thankful for Hanging Out with My Friend Kathy Having an Enlightening Conversation

I’m so thankful for the opportunities to both check something off the To Do list while getting to hang out with friends.  Once every four weeks like clockwork I get to experience one of those very cool “ands.”  This time around was even more excellent than normal.

Every four weeks the boys and I head over to get haircuts from Kathy at her place, Gallery 6 Salon.  Quick plug for her, she always does an awesome job of working with the progressively worse canvas I give her to work with 😉  Kathy takes great care of us, makes sure we get exactly the look we want, and is SUPER flexible which is greatly appreciated! Oh yeah, you also get to have some pretty excellent conversation with her as well.

Tonight it felt more like hanging out than getting a haircut.  Don’t get me wrong, hair was cut, but we had so much fun talking that it felt way more like hanging out than knocking something off the to do list.

Between joking around and giving each other a hard time, catching up on life, and everything else in between we had some pretty deep conversations.  While I disagree on a couple of thoughts she really did help me see some things through a different light.  In some cases it took quite some convincing, but eventually she helped me see where my thoughts were a bit flawed.  I’m so grateful for her willingness to stick to her guns while having a very polite and logical disagreement.  Healthy dialogue, conflict, and back and forth can be so enlightening and be so much fun – I’m thankful for our conversation tonight.



It was also very cool that Dominic was there for much of it.  I’m hoping he took away not only some of the key points from both of us, but more importantly, how a positive conversation with conflict should be held.

Kathy, thank you so much for a great conversation and time hanging out (& an excellent haircut)!