Why You Feel Like an Impostor—and What You Can Do About It

Bonnie Skinner and title text.

Mike (00:02):

I’m freaking out. Full disclosure. I am having an off day and I’m feeling panicked because I don’t want you to think that I’m a total fraud who doesn’t know what he’s doing in front of the microphone. This feeling is all too common and you might know it too. Luckily today’s guest is going to help us deal with imposter syndrome.

Chris (00:20):

It’s Chris Cooper here. Your gym’s programming won’t attract new clients, but it can help you keep your clients longer. Good programming includes benchmarks, novelty, skills, progressions, leaderboards, you know all that stuff. But great programming contains something more: a link between each client’s fitness goals and the workout of the day. Your coaches need to tell your clients more than what they’re doing every day. They need to explain why they’re doing it. Gym’s whose coaches could explain the why connection had a 25% better retention rate during lockdowns. Imagine how that translates into better retention when things are back to normal. Now, I want to solve this problem for gym owners. Programming is the service you deliver to your clients. So I partnered with Brooks DiFiore, who had one of the highest adherence rates in the world for his group classes at his gym to build twobrainprogramming.com. We built this for Two-Brain gyms and we give them free access in our mentorship program. But I’m now making this available to the public. Programming proven to improve retention and cashflow in your gym. Visit Two-Brain programming.com to get it.

Mike (01:28):

Oh, OK. Our producer fixed almost all the mistakes in the intro and I’m feeling a little calmer. I sound like a true pro who has everything—(sneezes)—almost everything together. That’s a perfect time to welcome Bonnie Skinner to the show. She runs B Skinner Coaching and Psychotherapy in Sioux St. Marie, Ontario. She’s a registered psychotherapist and certified Canadian counselor who will be a featured speaker at the Two-Brain Summit on June 19th and 20th. This’ll be an online event with regional in-person options at locations to be announced. Bonnie, thank you so much for joining us today. I feel like I’m going to take a therapy session on behalf of the gym community. Welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Bonnie (02:06):

No problem. Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Mike (02:09):

I’m so excited about this. I know at the Two-Brain summit, you’re going to be speaking on the enemy within and how the subconscious mind can derail us. Today, we’re going to talk about imposter syndrome, which is incredibly common in the gym business. So why does so many of us, even the most competent among us, why do we feel like we’re fooling everyone all the time?

Bonnie (02:26):

That’s a good question. You know what, I think when we look at the imposter syndrome, the struggle that we have is we automatically assume it shouldn’t be. And I think what you have to understand is that typically when we are doing something new or we’re outside of our comfort zone, or we’re in that growth zone that, you know, as entrepreneurs, we love to be in, there is a very natural part of us that says, Hey, this feels super uncomfortable. I don’t know if I’m going to be OK. And that little voice, that tiny little voice inside that can sometimes feel like a massive voice, that’s really what we refer to as the imposter. Right? And so in the beginning it doesn’t sound like, Oh my God, I don’t belong here. In the beginning, it sounds like, Oh, what if this? What if that? And then as we keep moving forward and we get further and further outside of our comfort zone, it kind of ramps things up for us because we’re not necessarily paying attention. And so it goes, you know what? I don’t know if I belong here, maybe I should go. And it starts dealing excuses as to why we need to leave. But in reality, it’s just a self-protection mechanism. It’s part of our subconscious programming.

Mike (03:30):

Tell me more about what is it protecting us from?

Bonnie (03:34):

So our brain really kind of has like one goal. OK. And its goal is survival. And so we have the same threat detection systems that we had, you know, eons ago when we were hunting and gathering. And so when that system gets activated, the biggest concern is that we’re not going to be OK, which to our brain means, you know, maybe we’ll die. Now, you know, starting a business is not the equivalent of walking off a plank somewhere. But when that system is activated, the concern, the threat level becomes the same. So a remnant of that is a lesser version of, Hey, maybe we should pay attention. Right. So if you think of, for example, anxiety as being like the threat detection system, right? Or it’s the alarm system essentially that says, I don’t know about this, this is pretty new.

Bonnie (04:22):

It’s very normal to have a sense of heightened awareness. But over time, as we keep, like I mentioned, as we keep staying outside of our comfort zone, it takes more and more for that alarm to really get our attention. And that’s when you start to see that ramping up going from, Hey, this is uncomfortable to no, you don’t belong here. You need to go back. You need to stop this. You need to go get a real job. All that kind of inner dialogue. The dialogue is really paired with the increasing alarm inside.

Mike (04:54):

And so I want to ask you, what is the threat? And I’m going to give you a quick story that relates to our mutual friend, Chris Cooper. But I want to know what threat the voice in our heads is trying to protect us from when there’s no saber tooth tiger hunting us or anything like that. And then my story is this very quickly. We, Chris and I were in, Santa Cruz, California, and a mutual friend of ours taught us how to ride a motorcycle. And Chris went first and Chris is kind of fearless about this stuff where he just tried some stuff, made a few mistakes, got the hang of it. It was fine. As I was watching, I was scared because I didn’t want to make a mistake. I didn’t want to, like, I almost didn’t want to try because I didn’t want to be perceived as not being able to do it. Chris took the exact opposite approach and just was not afraid to make any mistakes, made a few mistakes, got corrections, figured it out immediately. So what is our anxiety in situations like that? What is it protecting us from? Or what is it trying to protect us from?

Bonnie (05:48):

That’s a fantastic question. So think about how heavily wired are a species to stay connected to one another. One of the things that you mentioned was, you know, I was afraid like, you know, what if I don’t get it right? And so if you were on my couch in my therapy practice, I would ask you, what does it mean to not get it right? And when you start to dig at that question, typically what you find is that there’s a fear. One of the fears can be for example, of separation, right? It’s funny. Cause I was just having this conversation with Chris yesterday. And you know, when we talk about separation from the group or from the tribe, things like, the feeling of rejection or the feeling of embarrassment, right? The reason that those emotions can be so intense is because we have a very natural inclination to want to remain connected with our social group.

Mike (06:41):

  1. And that’s, you know, that’s fascinating from a gym perspective because, you know, we’re talking more to gym owners here, but the idea of clients want to feel connected to a group. And so when you bring a new client into a tribe or a group or anything like that, wow, can they ever experienced imposter syndrome. Like I’m not supposed to be here. I’m five pounds overweight. And that guy just did 30 pull-ups like, how am I supposed to fit in?

Bonnie (07:02):

Absolutely a hundred percent. I remember having that very same feeling walking into Catalyst here. Right. It’s like, wow, I am clearly out of my league.

Mike (07:10):

That’s despite the fact that catalyst is probably one of the most welcoming places on earth, you know, just like many of the gyms that we work with, we go out of our way to make it welcoming. But it doesn’t feel welcoming to a quote unquote outsider.

Bonnie (07:21):

Yeah. Yeah. Because typically—the struggle with imposter syndrome is that we don’t see it as a projection. OK. And by projection, I mean, if we have a fear or if we have assumptions or biases, what we tend to do is we look at the world and assume that the same things we see would be the same thing that the world sees. So when I walk into, you know, Catalyst for the first time, I was like, Oh my God, I don’t know what those letters on the board mean. I don’t know if I could do that. I don’t know if I can lift that. And I’m automatically assuming that everybody that’s looking at me, standing in the doorway, is thinking what I’m thinking. And that becomes the fear. The fear is, Oh my God, they’re going to reject me because I don’t fit because I’ve told myself I don’t fit.

Mike (08:07):

That’s that enemy within. That’s that voice.

Bonnie (08:10):

That’s exactly what it is. Right. And so what we do is is the projection is everybody must be thinking this way. And so then what we do is sometimes because when we have a belief that has a lot of emotion around it, we tend to hold it as true. We don’t even question it. And so that’s why so many people are more likely to just say, OK, well, I’m just not going to, I’ll leave or I’ll find another gym or, Oh, I’ll come back at another time. But what you actually have to do is stay. And if you think about, you know, I know one of the reasons why they called Catalyst the happy gym is because people are so fantastic there. So the first thing is to not listen to that voice. It’s to understand that that voice has a very natural place, right? It’s also the same one that keeps you from playing in traffic. OK. It says, Hey, don’t do things that are uncomfortable. So it has a place, but it doesn’t mean that it always needs to be listened to. And then once you stay, you recognize, OK, well there is no fear of being rejected because people come over and they’re like, Hey, how are you, great that you’re here. Just keep coming. You’ll grow. You know? And those are the kinds of things that keep members.

Mike (09:11):

And that voice, like you said, it definitely helps you stay out of trouble in certain important cases. But in other cases, that voice really speaks with distortions. And I know in psychotherapy, there’s all sorts of thought patterns that you can identify, you know, black and white thinking, something like that, or, you know, misperceptions where your voice in your head says, everyone knows this except for you when in actuality, many people don’t. So there’s all these different, you know, thought patterns that are in place that in some cases protect you from say falling through the ice, but in other cases really don’t do you a service because they’re not correct.

Bonnie (09:45):

That’s right. Absolutely. And it’s funny, you know, because when our inner voice, our subconscious is kind of giving us good information or information that we feel OK about, we call it intuition. We don’t call it an imposter. Right. But it is essentially the same voice, it’s that guiding bit of us that says, Hey, let’s just pay attention to our surroundings and make sure that we kind of have what we need or can access it in case we get into trouble.

Mike (10:08):

So Chris talked about imposter syndrome and one of his cures for it was asking other peers if they’ve suffered from it. And he says he guaranteed 80% of them would admit that they had, and others would probably not admit it, but probably had anyways. So how common is imposter syndrome in the world in general? Is it worse for entrepreneurs specifically, maybe even gym owners?

Bonnie (10:29):

I would be shocked that it wasn’t more around a hundred percent to be honest. Now, if the question is how disruptive is imposter syndrome? That’s a different story, but we all have an inner voice that says, Hey, I don’t think this is a good idea. And if you don’t, there’s, you know, there’s lots of psychological labels that can take care of that because it’s, you know, it’s never to say that, you know, everybody’s going to be stopped by imposter syndrome. Right. I have imposter syndrome all the time. And then it’s just like, OK, yeah, I know what that is. And you move on with your day. But the prevalence of it, I would say is a hundred percent. How disruptive it is, is where you actually get the variation. And it’s a skill to be developed over time, right? Managing that voice, managing the emotions that go with that is the skill that gets developed over time.

Mike (11:17):

So I read a blog on your site, we’re going to link to it in the show notes, and it’s called crushing imposter syndrome: How to sit with giants. And you just alluded to one of the strategies that can help people. And I’m going to ask you to talk a bit more about it. Now, you said you just admit that it’s there and move on. Talk to me about that strategy and how that helps people cope.

Bonnie (11:35):

Absolutely. One of the things that generates anxiety that we don’t realize is that anxiety is really the acknowledgement of a discrepancy. OK. There’s a difference between what I’m doing or what I have outside and what I need inside. OK. So when we have an internal voice that says something, the first thing we want to typically do is argue, right? Oh yeah, no, I belong here. If you ask other people, they’ll say, no, no, you’re great. You’re wonderful. You’re fantastic. But this voice is kind of, it’s got good reasoning. OK. Its job is to protect you. So if you can just understand and say, OK, yes, I see it. Yes. I know the risks. Then you accept that that voice is there and you go, OK. I understand what the worry is, but I’m going to move forward anyways. And it’s in making that decision that you acknowledge the voice to say, yeah, you’re right. I might not belong here, but I’m here anyways. So it’s always an acknowledgement and then a decision, and then you move forward and that frees you from having to avoid the imposter or shut down the imposter or worry that the imposter is going to show up. Right. Because, you know it’s a very natural part of your growth.

Mike (12:42):

That’s a really interesting distinction because there are ways when I’ve talked to some psychotherapists before you can definitely, you know, identify the distortions in your thought patterns, right? So I’ve seen exercises where you write something down and then you identify the five different ways that, you know, it’s incorrect, whether it’s black or white thinking or all or nothing, or any of those things or fortune telling. But then on the other side of it, there’s sort of that mindfulness approach to saying, OK, I don’t necessarily need to fight this thing and counteract it. I just need to acknowledge that it’s there, but not let it limit my actions. Is that kind of what you’re getting at with that strategy?

Bonnie (13:13):

That’s exactly it.

Mike (13:15):

  1. And that’s very different because sometimes it’s so hard to fight that demon. Instead of having to fight it, you just wave to it. Maybe keep going about your business.

Bonnie (13:23):

Exactly. Right. And we don’t want you to do that. Like there will be times remember, there will be times when that questioning voice will have a point, right? Like one of the activities, you know, that we’re going to look at it during the summit is really walking you through what your biggest fears are. And the voice of the imposter is coming from is rooted in the biggest fears that you have. Right. What if I don’t belong? What if this, what if that, and if you take those a level down, it might sound like, what if I fail? What if everybody rejects me? What if I end up broken and destitute or whatever the case may be, but there’s always a level of fear under the fears.

Mike (14:01):

And I think that some of the stuff you just said gets to kind of the heart of it, what it is for gym owners and entrepreneurs, where first of all, you’re dealing with health and fitness. These are hugely important goals for people. And they’re related all kinds of psychological issues. Like it could be, I just want to be stronger, but it also could be something very deep seated. Like I want to have greater self esteem by being able to lift that weight and is rooted to childhood problems and so forth. Like these huge, huge issues. So gym owners are connected, you know, in positions of expertise, in health and fitness nutrition, that whole thing. But then they’ve also got the stress of business and you identified some of the rabbit hole things or daisy chain things. What if I fail? What if I don’t have clients? What if my clients think I’m a fraud? What if my clients won’t come back? Can I pay my lease in? And it becomes this whole just string of terror. So, Chris wrote about a strategy, you know, fake it till you make it is that common one. It’s great advice. But how do you deal with the fear and negative self-talk that appear as you’re quote unquote faking it? Because a lot of people it’s so tough to step up and just go forth with that confidence. Like, how do you address that dialogue?

Bonnie (15:06):

Yeah. If you’re looking at, and this is a very, very common response to the imposter syndrome is fake it till you make it. Here’s the struggle with that. When remember earlier I talked about anxiety being the response to that dissonance or that disharmony inside. Right? So now what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to intentionally pretend something, and that doesn’t fit you. It doesn’t—your own psyche has said like, Hey, I don’t know about this persona. It’s not a good fit for me. So essentially what you do when you try to fake it till you make it is you add another layer of an angst on, because while you’re out there trying to, you know, show the world that you’re this confident, wonderful, awesome human being, you’re trying to have that very same conversation with yourself, but it’s not landing well, right.

Bonnie (15:52):

There is an argument. As long as you ignore the argument, the anxiety will stay there. That’s why I say it’s much better to stand back and just go, you know what? Yeah. Maybe I’m not a million dollar earner, right. Or I’m not 10 years in with, you know, 600,000 in revenue per year, whatever, but I’m here. And I think when we allow ourselves to not need to be somewhere down the road where somebody else is or somewhere where we could be in 10 years, if we just say like, I’m here and I’m going to do the best with wherever I am in the moment, then that is something that our psyche can grab onto because it’s true.

Mike (16:31):

Yeah. And that, it makes so much sense when you lay it out like that, and the fake it till you make it advice that Chris gave really makes sense where you have to, at some point, like, you can’t let these things hold you back, you have to go forward. So you have to tell yourself, like, you know, use all the things that you talked about there and go forward and do some stuff. But I do like what you said there, where if you’re totally trying to trick yourself, like, that’s not what Chris was advising, of course. But if you’re trying to sort of trick yourself, you create this sort of almost web of lies and the example that I’ll give you is, in the past, I’ve been in situations where, you know, you’re in a group or something and someone turns to you and someone’s important.

Mike (17:06):

And they say, Oh, have you read this book by so-and-so and you haven’t and you say, Oh yes, I have. And then you automatically, your anxiety ramps up because then, you know, the next question would be, what did you think of, you know, chapter three or whatever it was. And you’re like, I’m screwed. You know, I quote unquote, tried to fake it in that sense. Now I’ve created this web of lies and I’m kind of screwed. Right? And it would’ve been better just to say exactly what you said and you know, what it would be in this sense that you’re faking it by just being who you are and saying, no, I haven’t read that. Tell me about it. And that’s such a better response to that. It gives you an opportunity to learn as opposed to sit there in terror, waiting to be found out

Bonnie (17:42):

So much better. And I think the thing is too, you know, like it’s a lot of work. In entrepreneurship and owning your own business, I don’t know how people made their decision on their own business, but really there’s, it’s only ever kind of glamorized, right? It’s the glamour of the hustle and grind and this kind of thing. And they don’t talk about the psychological aspects and they don’t talk about the late nights, the lack sleep, the stress, the overwhelm, the wondering whether or not it’s a good idea, the having to come up against your own internal stuff and your own subconscious cause that’s really what the fear and stress is about. Right? And so without that, business owners start to think there’s something wrong with me, right? This isn’t normal. Why do I feel this way? Others don’t feel this way.

Bonnie (18:24):

Cause nobody talks about it, right? Because it’s not the thing. Everybody’s talking about oh, where are you going to get to or what you’re going to buy? But this is a very natural path to growth. There has to be some distance. There has to be some push. And I think that is really what the impostor lets us know is happening. Right. For, I mean, for mine, one of the things we talk about and we’ll talk within the summit is alignment, right? You become super powerful when you align yourself in multiple different ways so that you are able to recognize when you’re having different responses and what each of those different responses is about. So I know that when I, you know, the imposter comes up, says, Hey, Bonnie, I don’t know about sitting at this table. Like these are some pretty heavy hitters.

Bonnie (19:08):

I just go. Yeah, I know. And I know that there’s a fear and I know there’s a fear I’m going to say something that’s stupid, but I’m not qualified right now to tell myself what other people think. And so I go, I’m going to go in anyway. And it sounds super silly, but I have that conversation sometimes where it’s like, yeah, I get it. I see you. I know it’s scary, but I’m going to do it anyways. So when you make that choice and you have that alignment, then there’s not a continuous discussion. Think if you had your best friend with you at all times, right? And most of us tell our best friends every day, Hey, I want to do this today. I’m going to do that day. Well, what if that best friend was a scaredy-cat right? They loved you. They thought you were fantastic, but they are scared of everything.

Bonnie (19:47):

And so every time we try to do something, they’re like, Hey, listen, I don’t know about that. And so if you can think about it that way, then it’s not something that needs to be fought against. It’s not something that needs to be, you know, ignored. It’s just something that says, Hey, I see you. You want me to do well, but this is a different path for me to do well. So I’m OK with making this discussion and it doesn’t always need to be that drawn out a conversation, but it does need to be that intentional.

Chris (20:10):

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Mike (20:54):

And that’s so interesting. The thing you mentioned a little bit earlier on kind of connecting with other people in the pure idea of things and somewhat like back say 10 years ago, when I was a beginning gym owner, we would go to a regional events or competitions and things like that. And you’d sit in the crowd and inevitably talk to some of the other gym owners at the time and you would say, Oh man, I’m having this problem. And they’d say I did too. And then we’d solve it. Or we talk about, Oh man, I’m so scared about this or that or my lease. And they would have the exact same issues. All of a sudden, you start to find this community and you would realize that some of the people that you really looked up to had the same issues and same problems fast forward, 10 years later Two-Brain has got this incredible mentorship group that now takes the place of all these, you know, happenstance conversations in the stands. Now you’ve got this group of entrepreneurs who can get together in private Facebook groups and working with their mentors who have been in the same roles to talk about this stuff, get their fears out there, understand that they’re not alone, they’re not on an island and then work their way through stuff. Have you seen in say other disciplines outside of entrepreneurship in gyms, have you seen support groups like that just do wonders for people who suffer from like anxiety related to imposter syndrome?

Bonnie (22:03):

Absolutely. I see them everywhere. I’m a part of multiple different business groups and even groups that just have therapists where the imposter syndrome is everywhere, right? Like it is not a business condition. It’s not a response to being an entrepreneur. It is a human condition. And so you have these mastermind groups or whatever you want to call them. These, you know, common interest groups where people can actually share what their experiences are. And that’s the benefit of our ability to connect socially, right? As we go, Oh, wait a second. You’re experiencing that too. And all of a sudden, now a layer of shame comes off. A layer of fear comes off because when I know it’s a common thing that it’s something everybody is going to experience as long as you’re trying to push your limits, now I could ask, well, what did you do, right?

Bonnie (22:49):

Well, were you scared here too? And all of a sudden it becomes easier. And that’s the power of being able to connect with others. But it’s when, whether it’s because of COVID-19, we’re all working from home or whether we’re just in a, you know, for example, a lot of private practitioners, they’ll start and their work will be on their own. I know as gym owners, when you start a business, you’re on your own, it’s just you. So if you don’t have that network, one of the first things you’ve got to do is find one, right? And that’s the wonderful thing that Two-Brain’s done so very well is they’ve created this place where you don’t have to build alone. Right. And that’s the important part, when I’m working with somebody individually, you know, I’m talking about, OK, well, who’s your network. Who do you have around you? And if the answer is nobody, that’s one of the first things that we start working on.

Mike (23:33):

Yeah. And that makes so much sense because I really struggled when I was a beginning gym owner, because we invested, my wife and I so heavily of our time in the gym, all our friends were at the gym. Our staff members were our best friends, our clients were our friends and you don’t really have anyone to talk to because you can’t, you know, you can’t really open up to your clients about your financial problems or a problem client or all the other stuff. So we were very locked up. We had no outlet for this stuff. And so we didn’t know what to do, and then of course the fears start to overwhelm you because you’re locked in your own little room with your demons, right. So it gets very challenging. But then once we got involved with Two-Brain, obviously we had a talented mentor, a string of mentors actually, cause we worked with worked with a number of them, but they all had the experience and were able to give us perspective.

Mike (24:14):

But even more than that was this incredible network of hundreds of gym owners. So in the private growth Facebook group that we’re apart of now that we’ve been through the ramp up stage, we see people talk about this stuff all the time. And the really cool part is we work with our mentor obviously, but then we step back sometimes just have these back channel Facebook communications with other gym owners, where we have these little, almost private support groups where someone will say, Oh, I read your blog. And I’m dealing with the same thing. How can we talk? And we do. And that’s just such a magnificent way to do that. And that happens at the tinker level with Two-Brain clients at an upper level as well. They have even greater problems than I have, but they can sit around. I believe you’re in that group, are you not?

Bonnie (24:51):

I am, I am. Yeah. And it’s fantastic.

Mike (24:53):

So tinker level problems, which are greater than the problems I have, where you guys can all sit together and then share some stuff. And here’s a question for you, in the tinker group, these are the best gym owners in the world and the best entrepreneurs that are out there, there still is an imposter syndrome. Is that still around?

Bonnie (25:08):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, you know, the wonderful thing is, you know, we’ve got some incredible, incredible personalities in that group that are open to sharing their experiences and opening to letting other people know what they struggled with. And so there’s this openness where you can ask a question, get a question answered or share a worry, or even even say something just to kind of have somebody who cares about your growth support you and keep you accountable. Right? And it’s that openness, it’s that sharing that allows us to look at our fear differently.

Mike (25:40):

I’m going to ask you as we leave and finish this off, I want to ask you for some strategies on dealing with imposter syndrome. But before we do talk to me just a bit about the Two-Brain summit and how is this going to be an interactive thing that you’re going to present and what can people expect and what can they take away from your speech at that summit?

Bonnie (25:57):

Absolutely going to be interactive. I am so excited about this. This is something I kind of crafted specifically for this group. We’re going to talk about a little bit of a shift away from mental health, more into mental fitness. We’re going to talk about the impact of your subconscious mind. So imagine that you have a competitor who knows everything there is to know about you. They know every move you’ve made. They know every move you want to make. They know everything that scares you. They know every button that shuts you down. Imagine a competitor who has that much power.

Mike (26:28):

You’re making me sweat already.

Bonnie (26:29):

Absolutely. Right. And we’re going to talk about the fact that you had that competitor already and they are incredibly resourced and they have the ability to hijack you. And we’re going to talk about, you know, the impact of your subconscious and how you actually take control of that. Not only to build your sense of self, but to also do what you need to do for your business and your family. And we’re going to talk about the imposter syndrome. We’re going to talk about what it is to face your fears and build confidence. So I’m actually going to take you through an activity where you’re going to face the biggest fears you have and it’s going to be pretty awesome.

Mike (27:03):

That sounds sounds intense, but therapeutic, if I dare say. So guys, if you’re listening and you want to learn more about this, we have a link to get tickets for the Two-Brain summit coming up in June in the show notes. That is going to be online. If you so choose, there will also be regional locations where you can go live if you want to, again, COVID restrictions are up in the air at times, but you can watch this thing online and there will be some in-person options if you can make it to those. Check that link. And you’ll see more of Bonnie. Plus we’ve also got some amazing speakers. Jocko Willink is going to be here, a retired Navy SEAL, and Lisa Nichols among others. And these are great speakers. Bonnie, on the way out here, someone right now out there, I guarantee it is sitting here thinking about imposter syndrome. And probably has something to do later today that is going to be quite stressful and trigger some anxiety. How does this person going forward, take a small step forward right now to start addressing this and succeeding more?

Bonnie (27:59):

First step, take five deep breaths, right? So you’re just going to stop. You’re going to start over. You’re going to ground yourself. And then the second thing, I really want you, this is going to sound counter-intuitive, stop reaching for magnificent, right? The first thing you’re going to allow yourself to do for the next little while is just be average. When we allow ourselves to be average, we stop arguing with the imposter. We open ourselves up to learning whatever we can. And we just go, you know what, today I’m just going to do the best I can in this state. I don’t need to be anything else. Right. And the second piece that, or the third piece that you can look at doing that we’ll also do together in the summit is asking, have a conversation with the imposter. What are you scared of? Right?

Bonnie (28:40):

Like if it ends with, you know, OK, well, what if I fail then? OK. The next question is, what if you fail? What does that look like? What do you do? So you take every single one of those questions out to the end, and then you ask yourself, and what will I do about that? Because the ultimate fear is that you won’t be able to respond. That’s the thing the imposter is trying to keep you away from. So you walk that conversation out to the end and you say, well, if that happens, maybe I’ll go bankrupt and have to work at McDonald’s. But whatever it is, I will be able to do it and it’ll be fine. So I can take this risk. I’m choosing to move forward. And that helps you start to build alignment with the imposter.

Mike (29:17):

I love it. You know, you hit on something that I think might actually give you some insight into, I think maybe why gym owners struggle with this so much. And part of it, I think is because many gym owners are often very fit and very strong and very powerful. And they’ve obviously invested in fitness and so forth. So they’re often type A, driven, competent people. And it’s often in their eyes not OK to be average because they link in terms of the fitness realm. Maybe they probably never have been. And I can’t use myself as an example because I’m not the fittest person in my gym by any means, but I know there are people out there who have, they’re just incredibly fit and strong and powerful, and yet they have to then go to the world of business and maybe say, I don’t have a clue. And it’s really interesting for you to tell someone who is one of these, like, very, like I’m thinking about, say like a former Navy SEAL gym owner who’s just been this hyper competent person for their entire life has to say, it’s OK for me to be average today, to get further ahead in the long term, like, that’s an amazing mind trip. How do you, how does someone get past that?

Bonnie (30:19):

You know what it’s, I think it can be difficult, but what makes it difficult is we choose to hold onto that belief, right? That we’re supposed to be. I mean, in fairness, we get this from like grade school, right? Gotta be the best. You don’t get 97, get a hundred. Like there’s so much pressure that comes from our, you know, our families, our society, the way that we live, that we don’t even sometimes consider the possibility that we can just be average. And that can be magnificent. That can do everything that we want to do for our families. It doesn’t mean that, you know, you stay average, but you know, for your whole life, but it’s like, OK, well, if I just allow myself to be where I am and then identify what is the next place I want to get to? And not over-glorify as this, you know, this quest for, to be in the number one spot. Yes. Number one is important. But if you can’t be where you are right now, how can you be somewhere else later? So it’s really about getting good at learning how to ground yourself, wherever you are, let that be OK. And then decide where you want to go next and do that instead of, Oh, well, I need to catch up with so-and-so or I need to do this. There’s always going to be somebody ahead of you.

Mike (31:30):

What do you think of this as a a tagline for this show. Be average today so you can be magnificent tomorrow.

Bonnie (31:36):

Love it, love it, love it. I think it’s really important, right? Because so many are holding onto the, you know, the fake it till you make it, which listen, like if you’re sitting at a table, board room table about to make a deal like you did, that is not the time for you to be like, Oh wow. Like, I really don’t feel like I belong here. So yeah, that is the place to fake it till you make it, right. But otherwise you just turn around and you make friends with that part of yourself that is afraid, acknowledge that it’s OK. It’s normal to be afraid. That is what the entrepreneurship journey looks like. It looks like afraid. So share your fears, talk about your fears. Stop beating yourself up because you’re afraid, right?

Mike (32:15):

That’s where mentorship comes in, whether it’s in any field, whether it’s in gym business or not, finding a mentor can be a life-changing experience because you realize that you’re not alone and you can actually have someone to talk to, you know, I’ll take it one step further. That’s even where a therapist like you comes in because there’s a lot of people out there that could really use that insight that someone like you has, because, you know, I’ve learned this, a therapist, point out the distortions in your thoughts so quickly, whereas you might struggle with them for five years. So like a mentor and a therapist can be a huge shortcut to be average for a little bit and then be great.

Bonnie (32:49):

Absolutely. It’s such an important thing. And I think, you know, in my work with business owners, I’ve actually just developed a coaching product around this, but it’s really to understand that as much as you have to create processes and be aware of some of the risks and the struggles that you’re going to have in business, you have to do the same thing for your mind, right? Like there are going to be things, the reason we can point out, different distortions or whatever the case may be in your thinking is because we’re not in your brain. And just by the nature of being in our own heads, there are things that we can’t see because our subconscious is always working to protect us from stuff that makes us feel yucky. And so that’s why it might be hard to turn inward sometimes.

Bonnie (33:29):

And so there’s always, you know, yes, have your group, but find an individual, whether it’s an individual coach like myself or therapist so that you can actually get to learn how you think, right? How, what gets in your way, what are your very natural obstacles? These are all important things. And there’s, you know, there’s not the, I can’t say there’s not the support, but there’s not the curriculum out there for business owners. And so that’s why, you know, I’ve added it to my business because I think it’s so very important.

Mike (33:56):

Where can people find this product?

Bonnie (33:58):

They can go to my website at B Skinner coaching and psychotherapy, or they can flip me an email directly. I’m always, always happy to respond to folks. And that’s at bonnie@skinnerpsychotherapy.com.

Mike (34:12):

Thank you so much for walking us through this. I can’t wait to hear you talk about this at the Two-Brain summit. Thank you so much for sharing your time and insight with us.

Bonnie (34:20):

My pleasure, Mike, any time.

Mike (34:22):

That was Bonnie Skinner on Two-Brain Radio, and I feel a whole lot better about myself. I hope you do as well. If you have not done so and if you want some community and some perspective, you need to join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Facebook. Chris regularly post articles, instructional videos, and advice in there. It’s the only public group he’s in. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today. I’ll see you next time on Two-Brain Radio.


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