Battle imposter syndrome with lifelong learning.

Imposter Syndrome: the More You Learn, the Less You Know

Knowledge is power. 

It will take you far in life, too – it can put you in high seats and place you in the inner circles. It makes you a resource, a valuable commodity, moving you to the front of the line and offering you leverage, one way or the other.  

But as with power, information is also a curse. 

Just because you know something or you’re an expert in this topic or the next, doesn’t mean there’s a guaranteed benefit. Before you get results, first you have to apply that knowledge and put in the work. 

And let’s face it, nobody likes a know-it-all. 

The other hex on data is the more you uncover, the more you realize there is to know. Lifelong learning means just that: it lasts a lifetime. 

That’s one way imposter syndrome finds its opening. You start to feel as though you’ll never know enough to be considered an authority in your field, or like you’re unqualified to lead that presentation or take on larger clients.

Learning and expanding the mind is a lot like opening Pandora’s Box or falling down the rabbit hole – it’s easy to get lost if you don’t focus on your purpose and learn with intent.

Battle imposter syndrome by comparing yourself to yourself instead of others.
Photo by Felix Mittermeier

Don’t compete against others –
compete against yourself

Another invitation to imposter syndrome is comparing yourself to others. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow – seeing somebody climb the ladder quicker, make more money, and gain followers by the fistfull – and the symptoms are detrimental to your productivity and self-improvement.

More so when you’re learning something new and developing your skills; it can lead to throwing in the towel and giving up. 

But if you compare your progress against your former self instead, it’s often an inspiring and enlightening experience – it’s life’s greatest parallel: looking back to move forward

A magical transformation happens when you finally realize how far you’ve come since starting your journey to change (whatever that means to you). Even after a few weeks, you’ll find some advancement to your personal or professional development. 

And it could be anything. 

You want to build a deck in your backyard but have zero home reno experience? 🔨👷

After a few days’ of research, I bet you’ll know exactly what tools you need, what kind of wood to use, and maybe even have a blueprint all ready to go. Hell, you might even have that deck built in less than a week! 

Or maybe you’re learning a new language – it may take awhile to speak Spanish fluently, but after just one day of lessons, you’ll have already learned more words than you knew yesterday. 

What I mean to say is, don’t expect to reach your destination any faster by following another’s footsteps.

Take your own road and compete against the only opponent that matters: yourself.

The benefits of lifelong learning

Exercising the mind is no different than exercising the body – think of your brain as a muscle and learning as endurance training, or a way to condition yourself for life’s marathon.

Similar to fitness, if you stop going to the gym, playing your favourite sport or hitting the yoga mat, the skills fade and your progress is reversed. 

As you age, so does your mind, which eventually results in a slower cognitive process. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. And once you stop flexing your brain power, that degradation only happens faster. 

That in itself is a strong enough argument to pursue lifelong learning, but there’s also plenty of science to back it up if you need more convincing. 

Simply put 👉 if you don’t use it, you lose it. And let’s not forget, unless it’s applied, tested and refined, practice doesn’t automate progress. 

Meaning, if you learn just for the sake of learning, without application, the exercise is next to useless. It seems obvious, but if you don’t put your wisdom to good use, what’s the point?

Plus, the benefits of learning are too numerous to ignore: 

  • it strengthens the muscle memory of the mind, helping you make connections quicker and apply knowledge faster;

  • it helps you improve your emotional balance, providing self-fulfillment in your work and your life; and

  • learning is a proven way to nourish your mental health.

We are fortunate to live in the Age of Information, where we have access to the world’s largest database of knowledge: a digital library with unlimited resources known as the internet – you may have heard of it. 

🙅 Just watch out for deepfakes and other fake news. 🙅

Sure, there’s always something new to learn. And the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn…I think we’ve learned this already…

Here’s the point 👉 in the program of personal growth and professional development, imposter syndrome is necessary.

It’s part of the curriculum; instead of fighting it, accept its role in the journey. Use it to keep yourself honest, to hold yourself accountable for showing up each day, and to stay inspired in the face of adversity (like when you start comparing yourself to others).

Just remember, knowing is half the battle – don’t forget to do the homework. 

Class is in session!

The Diary of Davis Newsletter.
Photo by Aaron Burden

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