A friend recently shared a Darren Hardy daily video on Impostor Syndrome with me. I respect Darren’s ability to inspire people, especially on this topic, which is a passion of mine. In the video, he referenced quote from Will Smith who said “I doubt myself every day. What many people believe was my confidence, was actually my reaction to fear.” It makes sense. Impostor Syndrome can lead to over-preparation and the pursuit of perfection. What looks like confidence often stems from fear.
Darren Hardy encouraged turning those self-doubt feelings into motivation. He said, “Having impostor syndrome makes you human, it’s normal. It should be embraced. Don’t let it debilitate you. Let it push you instead.” He went on to say that humans are wired to not wallow in boredom or comfort, and we perform best under pressure. “Impostor syndrome,” he says, “is the psychological fuel required to perform at greater heights.”
I agree. And disagree.
I researched boredom. Humans naturally seek stimulation and purpose. Lacking that, we feel bored. Boredom pushes us to find satisfying activities that release dopamine, giving us pleasure and purpose. Boredom triggers curiosity, industry and movement.
Yet, not all curiosity, industry and movement is driven by boredom. A lot is driven by a person’s desire for personal growth, or financial gain, or inherent personality trait. Some people are just naturally industrious.
The key difference lies in motivation. Boredom-driven activities alleviate discomfort, often without a tie to goals or values. Industriousness-driven actions reflect natural diligence, align with interests and values, and are fueled by an internal need for achievement and growth.
Moreover, the brain chemicals released during boredom-driven activities differ from those released during industriousness-driven activities. Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and adrenaline are released in varying amounts in response to diverse triggers, resulting in distinct and problematic reactions. Relief from boredom doesn’t equate to achieving a goal or being relieved from fear.
I’m glad Darren Hardy brought this topic to his tribe. But I caution against implying that Impostor Syndrome is good and unavoidable. It’s not. Left unchallenged, it harms mental health and leads to chronic stress and burnout. Don’t pursue or embrace it. Instead, acknowledge it, then stamp it out. It’s a trigger for change, not a requirement for change. It doesn’t push people to work hard and seek excellence. The opposite is true. Hard workers and excellence-seekers think incorrectly about their track record, and this thinking needs to be corrected.
Instead, I invite you to develop a healthier approach of challenging your thoughts, celebrating your achievements, and learning from your failures. Adopting a better mindset that balances wins and lessons creates a well-rounded lasting way to combat impostor thoughts.