How Feeling Like a Fraud Can be a Good Thing | Ep #27

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Your insecurity can represent your progress

As men, we’ve all felt like a fraud at some point but did you know it could actually be a positive thing? I’m not talking about hiding behind false humility or using it as a way to emotionally abuse yourself into “success”.

I’m referring to using the feeling of being a fraud as an indicator that you’re moving through the stages of competency. Once you learn how to identify it within the stages you begin to see how to use it as an encouragement to keep moving forward rather than a catalyst for a self-doubting spiral. 

Stages of competency

Unconscious incompetence
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.[5]

Conscious incompetence
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

Conscious competence
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.[5]

Unconscious competence
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

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Four stages of competency
Impostor Syndrome


Intro Do you have three minutes, then you have enough time to improve your day. Who knows maybe even your life. And if you’ve got five minutes, then I ask that you pause, go ahead and leave a review. They mean the world to me. All right. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s Three Minute Thought.

00:22 Since you clicked on today’s title, I’m guessing that at some point in your life, or maybe even now, you feel like a fraud. And you might be asking yourself, especially if you feel that way, “How in the world can that be a good thing, Josh?” I would be confused if I were you. Now let me first clarify one point. And that is that, I’m not talking about imposter syndrome in the sense of an ongoing internal dialogue in your mind. I think all of us at some point in time have felt like a fraud or experienced imposter syndrome. And it’s one thing to have those thoughts periodically. It’s another to be haunted by those thoughts. And when you don’t realize that it can be a good thing, then it could actually send you into a downward spiral, and hinder your process in whatever it is that you’re pursuing, whether it’s your career, or public speaking, or being a good dad, or husband.

01:19 And so today we’re just going to touch base on how in the world can feeling like a fraud be a positive thing? And that’s directly because of the four stages of competency. Now, if you’re not familiar with what those are, I would suggest looking them up. But really quickly, they are unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. And essentially what it is, without going into detail, it’s the evolution of knowing that you don’t understand something or are not good at it, through to the point where you’re an expert. You just, you can do it without effort or with very little effort because it feels like it comes natural. And feeling like a fraud really comes into play in stages two and stages three. And that’s really when you start to engage with something, you start to pursue it, and you don’t feel like you’ve mastered it yet, but you have started to experience some momentum, or some traction within that. But you’ve done enough of it to understand that you don’t fully know what you’re doing. As in you’ve become aware of how big or broad something is, an industry is.

02:37 Let’s use life consulting as an example. That’s what I do. And I would say that I’m at stage four. But there was a time when I didn’t even value understanding your inner world, or being connected to your heart and your emotions, or any of that. So I was at stage one, I was unconscious and incompetent. But then as I began to pursue life consulting, into get into it. And I reached a point where I knew that I didn’t know much. And that’s really that stage where you can feel like a fraud. But just understand that that is a natural evolution of pursuing something new, or growing in that competence. So regardless of what it may be, if you find yourself in moments feeling like a fraud, just know, “Hey, I’m actually growing in the stages of competency and moving to that highest level. And I need to get past this insecurity or imposter syndrome feeling in this moment and understand that it’s part of the evolution of me becoming a master.”

03:45 And that is how feeling like a fraud can actually be encouraging. When you begin to realize you only feel that way because you understand enough of something to feel that way in the first place. So don’t see feeling like a fraud as a bad thing. Like I said already, I think that we all feel it at times throughout our life. If you feel haunted by it, and you’re really wrestling with imposter syndrome, that’s a completely different topic in the ways that you can confront it, and manage it, and overcome it. But for today, understand if you’re feeling like a fraud, pause, ask yourself, “Am I in one of those stages of competency where I know enough to know that I don’t know a lot?” If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged by it. Be encouraged and understand that you’re on your way to mastering something.

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