Things go wrong.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling something.
Yet, when things go wrong, most of us, especially high achievers, start thinking that there’s something wrong with us. “I’m totally an incompetent fraud.” Impostor Syndrome.
I know someone in the HR world who has worked at some of the biggest and best companies in the world. She told me: “I’m the captain of the Good Ship Impostor Syndrome.”
I think part of it, at least, is that we have what I’m starting to call the “Myth of Permanence.” We think that organizations and processes are sturdy. That they’re permanent. Damn it, we’re an institution!
We are all one heartbeat away from disaster. Nothing is permanent.
Another friend, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, working for the wrong boss, had two employees who were cheating on her watch. Disaster.
Nothing is permanent. Contemplating disaster is too anxiety provoking. We couldn’t live with ourselves. So we create a myth of permanence. If I do the right things, if I set things up right, my business will be robust. My web site traffic will stay high. My customers will never leave.
When did we forget? Why did we forget? We are all (to quote Bill & Ted) “Dust, wind, dude.”
Everything in life is fragile. Your teenager might not come back from his first solo drive, and it might not be his fault. Despite our best efforts, we have learned that no institution is hack-proof.
But the myth of permanence can be useful, because we don’t live in anxiety.
Except, we exchange a lack of constant anxiety for a lack of self worth when things go wrong. Because we believe in the myth, we think we are outliers when bad things happen. We forget that business is fragile, that life is fragile. That nothing is permanent.
We should feel proud when we get ANYTHING accomplished. That one shining moment should be enough. It wasn’t luck. You are just as accomplished as anyone else.
And when things go wrong? You are not an impostor. Because permanence is a myth.