Viewing entries tagged

Diminishment and the Impostor Complex

It’s a funny thing.

When people are faced with the different behavioural traits of the Impostor Complex — that is to say: people-pleasing, procrastination, perfectionism, leaky boundaries, comparison and diminishment — it’s DIMINISHMENT that most people come around to eventually. It’s a one-two punch. They may initially identify as a people-pleaser or a perfectionist, but upon further digging, what tends to often be in the way of getting their great work out in the world is diminishment. (If you haven’t ID’d what might be in your way yet, check out this quiz here.)


Diminishment is about hiding out — dimming your light — to make others feel comfortable, and in doing so, convincing yourself that you're not actually worthy of shining anyway. Diminishment is the way in which we dial our brilliance and our message down. Take up less space. Avoid displaying actual confidence at all costs.

I suppose this should come as no surprise to me given the evocative language I use in and around “Stepping into your Starring Role.” It’s INTENDED to be a calling forth of those hiding ever so slightly in the shadows off-stage.

Which is to say...YOU.

Diminishment is a nice and safe way to avoid feeling like an Impostor. No one can call us fraud, charlatan or cast us aside if they can’t see us, right?

To be certain.

And of course, it doesn’t just look like staying off the metaphorical stage.

When you tell me that you were so ‘lucky that the universe sent you the perfect designer,’ I will remind you that YOU made it happen. YOU took the chance and went on a coffee date and were open and willing and transparent. That YOU have built up a reputable business through tenacity and with excellence that anyone would be thrilled to be a part of. That YOU did your due diligence and knew what the market would bear and made the ask, even as you feared rejection. But yeah. Sure. It was the ‘universe.’

When you tell me that you are having a hard time filling up your Yum and Yay folder because “they’re just being nice” with their praise, I will remind you that nobody has time to just be nice like that and if they sent you a lovely thank you card because you helped them find a new way forward with the problem that they have been grappling with that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE you ought to dare to believe them when they tell you how truly remarkable you really are. In fact, MAYBE, JUST MAYBE you ought to take their words and add them to your testimonials page for the world to see truth.

So yes,

Diminishment looks like discounting others’ praise.
Diminishment looks like downplaying our successful decisions and wins.
Diminishment looks like handing over credit where credit isn’t due.
Diminishment looks like hiding behind your clients.
Diminishment looks like minimizing our extraordinary work...because it’s “just what we’s not special.”
Diminishment looks like a crisis of presence.
Diminishment looks like the opposite of sovereignty.

Now, you have good reasons for hiding your glory from us. Of that I am certain.

Maybe you have been burned by loving yourself out loud. (This is particularly acute for folx who are marginalized by the dominant culture.)
Maybe you have seen, far too often, the “good” person corrupted by the limelight.
Maybe you have seen… or have even inadvertently participated in the canonization to demonization of someone.
Maybe you have experienced the pain of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Maybe you have experienced the sting of haters and trolls.
Maybe you have committed the Sin of (Out)Shining.
Maybe your strong and glorious value of humility fears getting it wrong and having to eat humble pie.

And speaking of pies, maybe you’ve been told you’ve already had too much pie. “Be satisfied with what you have, Sugar. It’s greedy to want more.”

There is no quick and easy hack to any of this. Trust me. I know.

But if you want to — really and truly want to — come out from behind the shadows and take the stage with your message, your vocation, your calling, I’m certain it will be worth every moment of tension.


But if you want to — really and truly want to — come out from behind the shadows and take the stage with your message, your vocation, your calling, I’m certain it will be worth every moment of tension.

It will involve you being brave enough to confront the reasons you stay out of action and the resistance that is keeping you from what you say you want.

It will require you to look at all you have done, without the red pen of editorializing and discounting the efforts you’ve made and the outcomes you’ve created.

It will demand that you not go this alone. It will mean you will gather your people, assemble your cast, bring your fans in close and trust in them. But above all, it will demand that YOU trust in YOU.

Like we say in The Academy: More pie please.

Do you diminish? Not sure?

Click here to take the quiz and discover which of the behavioural traits is holding you back the most from having unshakeable confidence.

Tell us about the vanilla beans

Over the weekend, our daughter decided to set-up a lemonade stand. And, as is her tradition, she wanted to donate the money she made to a charity. Previously, she’s raised money for a cat rescue. This year, she had her sights set on charity: water, an organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. I heard the founder Scott Harrison speak last year at WDS and brought his story home to my family. My daughter was inspired. So, we baked chocolate chip cookies and made lemonade, set up the stand and away she went…committed to raising enough money to provide clean water for at least 3 people ($60).

Our strat plan looked a little like this:

Hot day + cute kid + good cause + quality offering = buckets o’ dough

The weather was spotty, so we didn’t see as much foot traffic as we would have liked, but she is pretty damned adorable, and it is an exceptionally good cause so she did manage to raise $70.75. She was pleased.

It was that “quality offering” variable that got my husband thinking later that evening.

Him: I wonder, if we underpriced and undersold the lemonade. Me: How do you mean? Him:  I think for $0.50 people are expecting lemonade from frozen concentrate…not hand squeezed lemons sweetened with a simple syrup infused with vanilla beans and sprinkled with garden-fresh mint, y’know? Me: But that’s just how I do it. That’s just how I make lemonade. Him: How would anyone who hasn’t met you know that about you, T? Me: Ah, crap.

Check out the sign.

Lollys lemonade
Lollys lemonade

He’s right. How would anyone know exactly what care, time, attention and, yeah, I’ll say it…LOVE that went into our pitchers of lemonade, that very symbol of summer’s ease?


Time and time again, we undervalue that which we don’t recognize as special. And the clue often lies in our “just”s. Listen for them, then look into them.

What are you downplaying?I’m willing to bet it’s the very thing that people are often thanking you for…like the care, time, attention and love I put into most of my pursuits…lemonade and beyond (though clearly not the aforementioned sign).

I suspect that buried in that dismissive 4-letter word is a linchpin to the wheel of your very essence. All that is wholly, uniquely and wondrously you. Love it up, Love.

My dear friend and the woman I turn to before every product launch (with lemonade being the notable exception)Tara Gentile has this to say::

"Give yourself credit for what differentiates you (or your product) and why that's important to you. Then consider why what differentiates you is important to others and communicate that value clearly. It doesn't help to fixate on features or process (or degrees, credentials, portfolio pieces, etc...) but it does pay to know what makes you stand out and why that's important to the people you seek to be in service of."

Yeah. In business and in life, tell us about the vanilla beans. Tell us how you do what you do. And why. That’s precisely what makes you and your offerings so entirely delicious to us.