Just recently, in a bright pink room filled with flowers, feathers, and disco balls, I ran my very first retreat in New York City alongside my long-time friend Dusti Arab, called Fun Factor.
(If you’re wondering why I’ve been quiet the last couple of weeks — how kind of you to notice! – it’s because I was head down, spreadsheet out, in the final sprint of planning.)
It was the culmination of my 11 years in the industry (during which I’ve known Dusti a full decade), 6 years of teaching, and 10 years of planning parties and living in this magical city called New York — blended into a mix of explorational strategic content, custom dinner menus, professional in-the-room massages, impromptu dive bar adventures, and so much more.
But if I’m being honest, the closer we got to game time, the more we realized: we’d set ourselves an EXTREMELY tall order.
How to Rev up Business Owners Who Are Outta Gas
Our goal was to gather these business owners who’d been feeling a little fried, uninspired, or unclear, and get them revved up and back on the path to planning and marketing whatever’s next…
… All while keeping it light and bright enough that their breakthroughs could come from a place of joy, excitement, and FUN.
(If you’ve ever tried to balance genuinely-useful content with making sure people enjoy themselves and get plenty of smiles and laughter in the bargain?
It’s a complex calculus, to say the least.)
And luckily for us? It. went. wonderfully.
Like, beyond-my-wildest-dreams awesome.
If you were there, thank you. And to my co-host Dusti, I’m so grateful for you.
I’m still processing all the magic we created, and the joy it gave me to see dots connected, new friends made, and doors of possibility opened as the bold-printed wallpaper and kitschy decor stood sigil in colorful approval.
And it reminded me of a realization I had years ago, about what the opposite of imposter syndrome is — because it was gushing out in the room all day Friday and Saturday.
Because sure, joy helps us find our path.
Of course, fun will be the battery that makes the ride worthwhile.
Just what IS the opposite of imposter syndrome?
It’s not necessarily confidence, joy, or fun alone.
At its core, the opposite of icy, spidery fear of imposter syndrome… is love.
Think about it.
Every time you’ve seen an idea you were SO excited by and proud of through to fruition and success, it’s because you’ve likely loved it far more than you were afraid of it.
That’s not to say imposter syndrome, and fear itself, is a bug in our creative system that only love will cure forever.
Au contraire — it will likely always be there. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature designed to keep us safe.
And truly: of course it is.
As professional creatives, we dance on the edges of possibility where many never dare to tread, and we’re in the practice of making things a reality that once only existed in our imaginations.
That’s terrifying work, sometimes.
And so, against the blustering winds of self-doubt, comparison, and worry, there have doubtlessly been moments when the only shield you’ve had available is how much you believe your idea is worthwhile.
Because you’ve thought it through.
Because it fills you with energy to imagine fulfilling.
Because it’s in your bloodstream now, and the thrill of it runs through you like lightning, and you love it more than you’re afraid of being “found out”.
The Benefit of Genuinely Loving Your Offer
And so you kiss it on the mouth and send it out the door even if you’re uncertain of the day it’s going to have, or whether it’ll come home victorious or disappointed, because with love on your heart you know you have to at least try.
You may have also noticed that trying to shout “I AM CONFIDENT or I AM WORTHY” in the face of imposter syndrome might make you feel better for a brief moment.
But it doesn’t necessarily negate the burning desire to give up/hide — and it doesn’t always inspire.
However, when those feelings come up and you ask yourself:
“What do I really, genuinely love about what I offer, and what it can do for people?”
You might find the cork of the champagne bottle of your mind pops off, and the compelling, confident ideas start flowing again.
After all, imposter syndrome says:
No one’s gonna want this. You idiot. There’s already a better one on the market.
While love says:
I can’t wait for just the right people to find this. You’ve put so much hard work into this, great job. Competition shmompetition.
Inspiration > Fear Every. Time.
I’ve seen it work time and again in my coaching, creative direction, and teaching:
(And the way I fall in love with my clients and what they’re offering, too…)
Connecting to yourself LOVE about your product as you’re selling.
And what you LOVE about what it can do.
And what your customers tell you they LOVE about your work.
Is the best source of inspiration and motivation there is — and it’s gonna win the day against your fear every time.
So I couldn’t help but notice in the room this weekend, we weren’t just there to “inspire our participants to action”.
Encouragement alone wasn’t going to shake off the burnout ash of two of the wildest years in living memory (especially for small business owners).
Instead, we wanted our participants to fall head-over-heels for themselves, their own stories, their next chapter, and the vision they hold so dear.
And dare I say it… it worked. Beautifully.
As it does every time.
So maybe next time you’re feeling yourself fall into the dark pit of imposter syndrome, grasping fruitlessly for a confidence ladder to pull yourself out.
Have you considered…
Just for a moment…
… Falling in love?
And figuring out what the warm glow of deep appreciation and gratitude for your own work and vision can offer instead?
I think you deserve to find out.
With love from the pink room,
PS. If you want a taste of what Fun Factor was like, I did some quickie 60-second recaps on IG. Here’s day 1, and day 2. Enjoy — and we hope to see you next year! (You can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know you need a place on the waitlist. ;))