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The Modern Stoa

Kanye West and the impostor syndrome

Who would have thought that the Chicago-born rapper and producer would have the solution for one of the most controversial personality traits of them all?

I’m talking about impostor syndrome, which has been popularized to death in recent years with the objective of making people feel like their work is mediocre but ‘good enough’. The common literature points out that if you “made it” it’s probably because you were not prepared and thus you should feel a little guilty because you are indeed ill-prepared for this new challenge that has come your way, but it in the end it’s going to be ok because everybody needs to “fake it till you make it”.

I’m done with this whole trend of minimizing our achievements.

The world provides opportunities to the ones who put themselves out there, the ones who provide value and solutions, the ones that act when they are not asked to, the ones who show up every day, the ones who embrace the grind.

People grow not despite of their dedication and commitment, but because of it.

Then why, after all of this effort, we are made to believe that we should feel like we don’t deserve this new role or that shiny promotion?

Kanye West is one of the most outspoken artists when it comes to self confidence, he has compared himself with Warhol, Shakespeare and Picasso. (Very valid comparison if you ask me). And yet people continue to criticize him for being very self-centered while leaving out of discussion his achievements, his art, his music and his influence. But who is the one enjoying a fulfilled life? The media or Kanye?

In his latest documentary, we see footage of him answering a question about his overconfidence after relasing his succesful debut album where he responds the following:

You have to believe it first… And I believed it and willed it. And they say overconfidence like it’s a bad thing, a bad word. How can you be overconfident? You should be overconfident! People should have more confidence in themselves! But, people fade into the gray, people who put their head down and act like “okay”. When we do something really good and people are like “Oh man that song was dope” we answer “Really” “You think so?”. And I’m like “Oh, it’s a great album” “Man, you like that? You got good taste, because I like it too.”

So that’s my thing, I’m willing to beat the negative perception that they try to throw on a confident man, because they haven’t seen that before.

Imma tell you how I feel about me: I am the greatest, and you should feel that way about yourself too!

So, the lesson is very clear. We need to stop hiding our lack of confidence behind the impostor syndrome, we need to start holding more on to our capabilities and leave the insecurities at the door.

  • Are you insecure about your communication skills? Go out and talk to people
  • Are you insecure about your coding skills? Go and build a web product
  • Are you insecure about your ways of working? Go and ask for feedback
  • Are you insecure about your new idea? Go and experiment

“I would say my determination is way higher than my smartness.”

- Kanye West.

So the next time you achieve your next great success, get a big promotion or land your dream job, embrace the moment, pat yourself on the back and say “Congratulations to myself, I worked for this and I deserve it”.

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Essays with open ended questions, findings and small nuances about life, business and personal growth

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Javier Rivero

Javier Rivero

Head of Retail Operations @ Uber

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