Despite the level of their success, everyone suffers through self-doubt from time-to-time.
Recently I caught a few episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If you haven’t seen it yet, the show is just as the title says, comedians talking about their profession and life while drinking coffee and driving around (in amazing vehicles). Last season ended with a two-part episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon. While funny throughout, there was this exchange that caught my attention:
Seinfeld: I opened my eyes this morning and I thought, I can’t do this, I can’t do a show. Do you ever wake up and think, I can’t get in front of these people?
Fallon: Always. Yeah, yeah.
Seinfeld: How close to the curtains opening and, you walking out, have you ever said to yourself, I don’t think I can do this.
Fallon: Right up until the curtain opens.
Seinfeld: But, do you ever just feel like, I don’t belong out there.
Fallon: I think once they are open…this is exactly where I should be.
Seinfeld: Once you walk out. When the light hits you, yes?
Seinfeld: But sometimes, backstage, I think I don’t know why I even picked this business. I don’t have what these people want to see. They want to see a funny guy, and that’s not me.
Given their success and how long they have been in business it seems unfathomable that Jimmy and Jerry have these thoughts, but they’re human, so it makes sense. Anyone who steps forward and takes a risk, at some point, will feel they are in the wrong place — It’s just a matter of time. Continue to take risks and the feelings are bound to return.
I have had these feelings of self-doubt several times in the last twenty years. Moments when I felt I had no business being where I was. Usually around times when I dared to take a leap into the unknown. It’s comforting to know that despite the level of success, everyone suffers through self-doubt from time-to-time.
This is all a good reminder that as long as I keep pushing myself, my job title may change, but the role will remain the same: Imposter.