There she was in her dreadlocked glory. The truth-telling trobairitz from San Francisco, pissed off at the customs border lineup here in Toronto. (She called it the “punishment line”.)
Riffing with her signature reverence to (and irreverence about) faith, creativity, grace and surrender, Justin Trudeau, what Jesus would think of duct tape (spoiler: she thinks he’d dig it), and doing your anger, doing your grief and doing your life. It was an evening honouring Henri Nouwen, beloved theologian, and writer of deeply respected texts. Namer of the "God-shaped hole" and "twilight of your soul".
She was fabulous. Of course.
She’s Anne Lamott. A name synonymous with fabulous. But what makes her so fabulous? Her unflinching ability to stand in her authority.
Even as she called herself out for feeling like an impostor on occasion. Talking spirituality under the soft and kindly gaze of Nouwen's projected images. With nuns in the audience. Lots of them. She noted that ALL creatives feel like impostors from time to time. Well, you KNOW I couldn’t agree more. Creatives and parents and spiritual teachers and students and leaders and and and.
But you know what else I heard her say?
That she has made peace with her Impostor Complex. Not that she has surrendered to it, nor has her 62 years on the planet made her magically impervious to its sting.
No. I heard that she, whether consciously or not, uses the three strategies I speak to all the time when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex. The three strategies that EVERYBODYtalks about when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex, whether consciously or not.
It's like this. Overcoming the Impostor Complex starts with breaking it down into its three essential elements.
1) Our Impostor Complex tries to set us up for failure – meaning that its goal is to keep us out of action.
We see Anne doing this all the time. On social media. In her writing. She speaks to her process. Her insecurities. She names her pain and opportunities for growth. And finds out what her critics are here to teach her. This is deeply wise.
2) Our Impostor Complex has us question and doubt our capacity.
Show yourself what you CAN do. (You have done so so much.) Bolster your authority thesis. Track your wins. What have you delivered, sold, created, survived, healed, won, finished, saved, fixed?Believe you're a badass.
She is clear about what she has done. She is clear about the places in which she is masterful. She is confident in her authority. Sure, the critics may get her down. She is Anne Lamott, after all. (And YOU…are YOU. Blessed be.)
3) The Impostor Complex likes to keep us alone and isolated. Like no one else could relate to us and our fears and worries.
There they were, in the front row. Her people. Cheering her on. The same people she told us that “prayed on” her when she was in a puddle of tears in the customs line. She told us what I tell you: Ask for help. And ask again. Your people WANT you to succeed.