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Imposter Syndrome, Happiness Trends, & Success Definitions

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” 

– Viktor Frankl

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’re discussing why imposter syndrome is silly, how age-related happiness trends look like a smile, and various definitions of success. 


Imposter Syndrome

Harvard Business Review defines imposter syndrome in the following way:

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? 

You’re not alone. 

One study estimates that about 80% of adults experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. 

What to do, then? 

Ryan Holiday recently shared a video on Facebook giving some advice. Here it is: 

“What about imposter syndrome, this idea that you’re about to be caught, that people are gonna know that you don’t totally have this on lock, that you’re not perfect? 

You know how I know that’s not true? 

Are you thinking about that for anyone else? Are you catching other people that you think are imposters? 

No. You’re busy thinking about yourself… which is exactly what they are doing also. Nobody is trying to catch anyone else. Nobody is worried that somebody else is an imposter. We’re all too obsessed with ourselves. 

So focus on your work. Focus on what you control. Leave everything else alone.”

Happiness Trends

According to data collected from 1.2 million observations in 132 countries, age-related happiness trends look a whole lot like a smile. 

The overall low for the average person’s life satisfaction hits from age 54 to age 58 — after a steady decline from the teenage years. 

But in a person’s 60s, life satisfaction bounces back faster than it declines in any other decade. 

Interesting, eh? 

It might give you a little more perspective on where you’re at in life and help you understand that everyone goes through similar seasons. 

Defining Success

How do you define success? 

Missy Yost offers up 19 possible definitions over on Lifehack, such as “Success is always doing your best” and “success is having a place to call home” — not bad definitions, if you ask us. 

But in his 2016 commencement address to the American University in Beirut, Nassim Nicholas Taleb offered up a different and thought-provoking definition of success. 

What do you think? 

“For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.”

Extra Stuff

Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!

This Week’s Photo


“Ukrainian servicemen get ready to repel an attack in the Lugansk region.” via BBC

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

I’m lighter than what I am made of, and more of me is hidden than is seen. What am I?

This Week’s Question

Answer this question — either privately or by replying to this email. If your answer inspires us, then we’ll ask for permission to include it in a future email!

What’s an area of your life where you struggle with imposter syndrome? 

This Week’s Challenge

Define success for yourself. What does success mean to you? Does it mean having a certain amount of money? A certain amount of freedom? Integrity? Time with family? Try to define success and allow your definition to make you rethink how you’re living your life. 

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: An iceberg.

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