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Is it Imposter Syndrome, or Content Insecurity?

As a thought leader, you’ve put a lot of thought into your content, pushing strengths and ironing out difficulties. Yet you’re still not ready to release it. Maybe you haven’t gotten a solid content model for the framework, or maybe you keep adding details and embellishments, but whatever the reason – you just can’t seem to let go.

Content insecurity is a problem for a lot of thought leaders.

Unlike imposter syndrome, which makes you question your own abilities, content insecurity happens when the thought leader just can’t stop tweaking their material. Where imposter syndrome asks, “Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? Am I worthy to be in a room with experts who have done amazing things?”, content insecurity asks, “Is my content ready to stand on its own?”

You are an expert in your content; you’ve thought about the ideas in depth, done your research, and written pages and pages about your leadership topic. But, as most experts will tell you, the more you learn about something – the more you realize how much you don’t know! Compared to the ocean of possible knowledge, your bucket only contains a few drops, and that can make you feel uncertain.

Content depth is a good thing.

But realizing how much is left to plumb shouldn’t mean you don’t trust the work you’ve already done. As an expert, you see your content with a wide-angled lens. There’s a huge range of complexity in your topic. You love the nuance and subtleties, and you enjoy exploring the fine-grained details. That’s fantastic. But you’re swimming in the deep end of the pool.

Meanwhile, your target audience—the people who will be interested in your content—are standing on the side of the pool, still debating whether to put their toes into the water. A beginner needs a narrow focus with easy-to-learn basics; a place to start. They want content that’s easy to memorize, easy to apply, and provides swift and tangible results.

Folks with content insecurity hesitate to make the leap, whether that means publishing, taking speaking engagements, solidifying their content model, or opening a single-shingle business. It often happens when a thought leader hasn’t broken their content down and focused on the fundamentals. They’re overwhelmed by the depth of their topic.

To overcome content insecurity, it may help to gather a few smart people that are generally educated in business leadership. Have them review your content, and encourage them to be constructively critical. Ask them, “Do you see gaps? Is anything missing? Does this content make sense to you, and do you find it useful?”

Just because ideas are simple doesn’t mean they’re not deep, and giving your content a narrow focus doesn’t mean it won’t have wide appeal. You already believe in yourself. Now, you just need to believe in your content. Be sure it’s easy to understand, and spend some time thinking about how a beginner will apply it. Then, take a deep breath, and let go!

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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